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7 of the Biggest Fitness Myths, Debunked

Fitness myths crop up all the time, and they can lead us down the wrong path.

You’re a well-informed workout buff—so when science suggests that one of your trusty training rules might actually be ineffective, it can send your head spinning.

By Alexandra Baackes, Men's Journal

We know: We read fitness science all the time, and that steady churn of “study says” stories has stirred up plenty of controversy in gyms and training studios around the world.
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But don’t worry—we’re here to set you straight. We’ve cleared up seven of the top fitness myths circulating your gym, so you never feel compelled to buy into these oft-repeated-but-never-true bits of “wisdom” you need to stop believing now.

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Myth 1: You can crunch your way to great abs

Fact: You’ve probably been doing crunches since “gym” was something slotted between lunch and recess, but they’re an ineffective way to get a true six-pack. Instead, experts say toned abs come from a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs effectively, getting adequate sleep, keeping your stress levels low, and of course, selecting the right training moves. “If you look at big bodybuilders with block abs, they’re not getting those from crunches,” says personal trainer and strength coach Eric Allen. “They’re getting them from squats, deadlifts, and chinups.”

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Myth 2: Cardio comes first

Fact: Stand at the door of your gym and watch the next 10 people walk in. You’ll likely be observing a traffic jam at the treadmills. Yet the most effective way to organize your workout is to strength train first, and hit cardio second. “Running or doing other cardio first will reduce glycogen levels, which can prevent you from training as hard as you need to,” Allen explains. “On the other hand, weight training first will increase levels of testosterone and cortisol, both of which are beneficial to your workout.”

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Myth 3: Don't squat past your toes

Fact: “The No. 1 fitness myth that I come across with my clients is that they shouldn’t squat below 90 degrees,” Allen confides. His trainees quickly learn that squatting with knees over toes is a healthy, biomechanically safe move to do. In fact, we do it every day. “Squatting knees over the toes, butt to the floor, hamstrings covering calves, chest up is the most effective way to squat,” he assures. “Look at someone picking up something they’ve dropped off the ground-it’s a natural movement.”

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Myth 4: You need electrolytes after every workout

Fact: While sports drink commercials will work overtime to prove otherwise, good ‘ol water can get you through many workouts. Electrolyte-pumped sports drinks are really only necessary for gym sessions or intense cardio workouts that last an hour or more. Extra sugar in sports drinks can impede the fat-burning process, so they should be reserved for those times when they’re truly necessary.

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Myth 5: Static stretching is sacred

Fact: While it’s often repeated that static stretching is a must before workouts or athletic events, recent studies have proven that’s a myth. In fact, “static stretching done pre-workout can reduce performance and power,” Allen says. So what’s the solution? While static stretching should still be a part of your post-workout routine, dynamic stretching should be your focus at the start of a workout. Try this warmup before training.

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Myth 6: If you're not sweating, you're not working hard

Fact: In reality, it depends on the focus of your workout, explains Allen. “An Olympic lifter training for pure strength will incorporate several minutes of recovery between lifts in order to let his nervous system recover for peak performance.” He may not be sweating, but he sure as hell is working hard. Before your start fretting about your sweating, zero in on whether endurance or strength is the focus of your training.

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Myth 7: You can run off the pounds

Fact: “People are hung up on the idea of cardio,” Allen says. Yet when it comes to shedding inches, focused weight training is a more effective way to drop pounds than banking hours on the treadmill. “Interval and weight training is a better way to reduce fat,” he adds. Of course, keep in mind that while you can burn away calories, no amount of time at the gym can compensate for an out-of-control diet.

See more at: Men's Journal

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Men's Magazine: 7 of the Biggest Fitness Myths, Debunked
7 of the Biggest Fitness Myths, Debunked
Fitness myths crop up all the time, and they can lead us down the wrong path.
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