Have you ever tried to take an inventory of all of the fitness advice you’ve heard in your life? We don’t recommend it. Sorting out the valuable tips from the outdated and inaccurate ones is no small task, so to help you out, we collected the eight worst workout tips ever. Read on to find out which misguided pieces of advice you need to avoid!
The reality: The best time to work out is whenever you feel most like exercising, or whenever you have the time to fit in an effective workout. Some people swear morning workouts give them an energy boost, while others claim they get a better workout in the evening. Neither person is wrong, but there are few points about timing to remember. Avoid high-intensity workouts later in the evening because this type of training releases chemicals in the brain that can interrupt your natural circadian rhythms and make it difficult to fall asleep. Also avoid exercising on an empty stomach and on a full stomach. Whether you work out in the morning or after work, have a little something in your stomach. Eat a small snack of carbs and protein to keep yourself going, while keeping digestion to minimum.
The reality: If you have no idea what you would do with free weights, weight machines may seem like the safe choice, but they’re not really your best bet. Strength-training machines use lever systems, which have to be designed for a specific body type, and generally that body type is male. Using these machines can throw your alignment out of whack and harm your joints, plus they don’t require you to engage your stabilization muscles. Pick free weights to control your range motion and get the added benefits of working your core and improving your balance.
The reality: Increasing the temperature of the room you’re exercising in doesn’t increase the number of calories you’ll burn. Calorie expenditure is dictated by the energy generated in moving your body weight against gravity. And since the resistance from gravity doesn’t change, working out in a heated room doesn’t increase your calorie burn. But what about hot yoga, you ask? The idea behind that workout is that your muscles warm up faster in a heated room, allowing for greater range of motion. But it’s also easier to overexert yourself in extreme heat, so take things slow and be mindful of your body’s limits.
The reality: While it’s true your muscles do need recovery time, if you’re alternating the days you do any sort of strength training, you’ve already got that recovery period covered. The truth is your body works as one component, so splitting up the body parts you train not only doesn’t make much sense, but it also robs you of the benefit of a full-body workout. If you do squats, you strengthen your lower body and work your some of your core. If you do squats with a shoulder press at the top, you hit your lower body, your entire core, your shoulders and your back. Full-body workouts are simply more effective.
The reality: No, you shouldn’t start with the weight you can barely lift, but if you’re aiming to really change your muscles, challenge them. Lifting heavier loads for fewer reps helps burn fat and create definition. This is because the amount of effort it takes to lift a weight you can move 12 times is less than the effort it takes to lift a weight you can only move three times. If you normally do three sets of 12 reps, try doing six sets of six reps instead. As long as you are able to keep proper form, you’ll be making your muscles work harder.
The reality: As with all types of exercise, form is important. The vast majority of the time, the proper form for your chosen exercise won’t be one that requires you to lean or slouch. Leaning forward on the stair climber or elliptical won’t kick your glutes into high gear, but could strain your lower back and also put too much pressure on your toes, which can cause your feet to go numb. Instead, stand up straight, which engages your core (this is true whether you’re working out or not), and sit your weight back into your heels to work your larger muscle groups. For even more of a workout, let go of the rails altogether and pump your arms. Using your upper body engages more muscles (including those needed for balance), increasing your calorie burn.
The reality: The notion of “long, lean muscles” sounds nice, but once you reach your adult height, their length is set for life. The idea that certain types of workouts can change that is simply incorrect. However, Pilates, yoga, and ballet-inspired workouts do emphasize posture. Learning how to stand tall with your upper body lifted and your spine lengthened, while conditioning your muscles, could contribute to a more elongated appearance. And no, lifting weights doesn’t mean you’ll develop bulky, masculine muscles. The truth is without an abnormally high protein intake and the presence of male hormones, the likelihood of any type of exercise causing you to develop a masculine physique is very unlikely.
The reality: There’s a wealth of workout tips out there pertaining to the amount of time you need to spend sweating to see results. Your body is burning calories and fat at all times whether you’re exercising or not, so the amount of gym time needed to change body composition varies from person to person. Yes, cardio is a great way to torch calories, but it’s not the only way. In fact, it’s not even the most effective way. Research shows that 20 minutes of interval training is more effective for fat loss than 40 minutes mid-level intensity cardio. If your aim is fat loss, trade long cardio sessions for shorter, more intense interval sessions.
Have you been following any of these misguided workout tips?