Welcome to the second chapter of my list of false statements about fitness. I hope you will enjoy it. :-)
IT’S POSSIBLE TO LOSE FAT JUST IN ONE AREA. The biggest myth of all. If this were possible I would be so rich I’d have to hire people to help me spend my money. There is no scientific evidence people can burn fat only in the areas they choose. Ultimately, our genetic pool will decide where that lost fat will come from. Thousands of crunches will not change our percentage of body fat around our waist, and lots of legs of arms exercises will not get rid of the adipose tissue stored in excess around our limbs. Exercise does increase muscle tone, and helps our muscles become more noticeable. Nevertheless, body fat can only be decreased by consuming fewer calories and/or expending more calories. We can only hope our genes will help us.
IF I DON’T SWEAT, IT MEANS I’M NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH. Sweating depends on the relationship between body temperature and the environment. In cold weather we usually don’t sweat much, even when the intensity of our training session is high. This might make us feel like we are not getting a good workout. On the contrary, we are actually training harder than at a higher temperature, because we also have to burn more calories to keep our core temperature up. Measuring heart rate during a workout is a much more reliable tool to assess the level of intensity of our training session, and should be taken in consideration no matter the temperature of the environment. It goes without saying that people who don’t put enough effort during their training regimen won’t sweat much. This has nothing to do with cold temperature. If their muscles are not working hard, very little heat will be produced, and there won’t be any need of their thermoregulatory system to lower the core temperature by initiating substantial sweating.
SIT-UPS AND CRUNCHES ARE THE BEST ABS EXERCISES. These exercises have been at the center of a debate for years. There are significant doubts about their safety and effectiveness, and we should consider a few issues before including them in our training programs. Some experts are raising concerns about the possibility of traumatizing our lumbar spine through its repeated forward flexions happening during sit-ups and crunches. Although more research is needed to confirm this belief, there are studies showing that the integrity of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs may be compromised with the repeated execution of sit-ups and crunches. As far as I’m concerned, if there is even a small possibility that an exercise may be harmful, I think twice before including it in my training routine, especially when there are plenty of others that can do even a better job. Sit-ups and crunches are examples of obsolete exercises in which the risk of getting hurt may be higher than the benefit they provide. They can easily be replaced by curl-ups and limited-R.O.M. reverse crunches, which don’t demand a significant spinal flexion. In my opinion the best “abs” exercises are those that train our core as a global unit. Planks and bridges provide a fantastic opportunity to functionally train our core, and can be safely progressed in countless ways. In addition, they strengthen our midsection more than any other exercise, doing us a much better service when we need to stabilize it during daily and recreational activities. In terms of muscle recruitment, they seem to engage our rectus abdominis – the “6-pack” muscle – as much as curl-ups and reverse crunches, discrediting those individuals who want to develop it just by doing sit-ups and crunches. When people perform hundreds of those for cosmetic reasons, they might not know that it may be counterproductive: like any other muscle in our body, when overly stimulated, the rectus abdominis will grow, causing our midsection to become larger instead of thinner.
See you on my Part 3! :-)
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