With so much fitness advice online and from other people it’s easy to fall prey to myths and half-truths. So let’s bust some fitness myths which may be stopping you from getting the best out of your workout.
TRUTH: Stretching before exercise is a ritual for some people. But research shows that aggressive stretching before a workout can actually be counter-productive. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Conditioning Research, people who stretched intensively before lifting weights actually felt weaker.
The key is to do the right sort of stretching. Before a workout you need to do dynamic stretches, as opposed to static stretching. Use these other tips on stretching to get the most from your workout.
TRUTH: While it’s true that some muscle “burn” may occur during exercise, real pain is not required for a successful workout and is a sign you should stop or change what you’re doing.
So is any pain ok? When performing new exercises you may experience ‘unaccustomed effort’ by using muscles you seldom used before, which can be challenging, but never painful. You should also expect some soreness 12-48 hours after workouts due to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
TRUTH: Sweating is for cooling the body and regulating internal temperature and is no indication of how hard you’re working or how many calories you’re burning. Many people are able to work at a high intensity with minimal sweating.
Remember that vigorous exercise may have many health benefits, this doesn’t have to entail profuse sweating. In fact, if you’re sweating a lot and it’s a hot environment you may be overdoing it, which can lead to serious problems.
TRUTH: One of the most hated aspects of playing team sports has been the dreaded post-match ice bath. For years cold exposure is believed to aid recovery and heal muscles by reducing inflammation and flushing out toxins. But new research from The University of Queensland pours cold water on this theory.
So what should you do rather than taking the cold plunge? You can try contrast showers - alternating hot and cold temperatures, and traditional recovery techniques such as foam rolling, stretching and good post- workout nutrition.
TRUTH: Many athletes swear by compression clothing. Often made from stretchy spandex and nylon, the garments are engineered to apply pressure to the body part they’re covering, helping to support underlying tissue. But this 2010 study found no physiological benefits to athletes wearing the clothing.
However, the belief that your garments are helping you may give a psychological benefit . They also appear to benefit recovery when worn on the lower body and may improve the circulation of people with low blood pressure.
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