The 7 biggest fitness myths

1. Myth: You can create “long, lean muscles”. This term is often used in dance, barre, pilates, yoga and other disciplines, but it is a marketing slogan, not an actual thing that happens. Muscles have fixed lengths that you cannot change. The workouts that aim to give you a long lean body do improve your posture, which can make you seem taller, but your bicep won’t actually appear longer or leaner.

2. Myth: Crunches give you great abs. Not true. Only a good diet will give you the toned six-pack you’re going for. A 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that after six weeks of ab exercises, there was no reduction in abdominal fat loss. Don’t give them up entirely though: they strengthen your core muscles, but to become visible, you need to get your body fat around 10% for men, and about 20% for women.

3. Myth: You need to replenish electrolytes with every workout. Plain water is fine for most workouts. But if you’re running 10 miles on a hot August day and are sweating pure salt to where you have white streaks on your face or clothes, then you should reach for the Gatorade or other sports drink.

4. Myth: You gotta sweat or you’re not working hard enough. Your muscles heat when you exercise so a tough workout will increase your internal temp, but the temperature you’re exercising in plays a role in your perspiration too. If you’re exercise in 40 degrees, you might not sweat much at all, but you’re still getting a good workout.

5. Myth: Do more cardio to burn fat. If your goal is weight loss, the best approach is to do a mix of high intensity cardio and strength training. By packing on more muscle, you’ll burn more calories at rest, adding to the daily calorie deficit which results in fat loss.

6. Myth: Protein bars are suitable substitutes for a meal. While they can be very convenient, not all of them are good for you, much less worth skipping a meal over. Many of them contain as much sugar as a Snickers bar, and have up to 400 calories!

7. Myth: Cleanses give you a kick-start to good health. In actuality, there is no reason to do any kind of ‘cleanse’. Your body naturally detoxifies every day, particularly if you eat a lot of veggies. Cleanses are a waste of money.

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