I wrote last month about the myth of spot-training, and then I realized that there were a bunch of fitness myths that deserve to be exploded. So here are my Top 5 Fitness Myths De-Bunked. Myth 1: If I stop working out, my muscle will turn into fat. Very, very much untrue. Scientifically impossible, in fact. Muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue. One can no more turn into another than I can turn into, I don't know, a cute, fluffy kitten at will. If you stop training a particular muscle, you will lose muscle mass. That loss can cause your metabolism to slow, thus you are burning fewer calories overall. That can lead to fat gain. But it isn't your muscle transforming.
Myth 2: Crunches are the only way to strengthen my abs. Not only is this not true, but floor crunches aren't even the best way to strengthen your abs, in my opinion. Your abs are designed to engage when you are upright, so there are tons of great standing exercises you can do to strengthen your core, which includes your back muscles, incidentally. Here are a few from PopSugar. It's not a standing exercise, but planks are great for your core too, as are squats. Really, you can and should engage your abs throughout your workout to support your back.
Myth 3: How much I sweat is directly proportional to how many calories I burned. Sweating is the body's cooling system. How much you sweat is dependent upon a number of factors, but the lack of it is not an indicator that you aren't burning calories or vice versa.
Myth 4: If I'm not sore the next day then the workout was too easy. This is closely related to Myth 3. While soreness in the days after a workout indicates you stressed that muscle, the absence of soreness doesn't necessarily mean you didn't. Sometimes your recovery protocol--what you ate, how much sleep you got, how much water you drank--impacts how sore you are later.
Myth 5: No pain, no gain. This one has the most potential to actually physically harm you. Exercising can be uncomfortable. Sometimes your muscles burn. Sometimes they get a little shaky when they're fatigued. You may also experience soreness in the days following your workouts. But, exercise should not be painful. If you are in pain during an exercise, don't push through it. Stop and find an exercise that isn't painful, and possibly go see your doctor depending on the severity of the pain and/or how long it lasts. Pain is your body's way of telling you something isn't right. So, discomfort is okay. Pain is not.
Are there other things you've heard about exercise or health that you want to know whether or not they're true? We're happy to address them, so please submit them as a Comment and maybe you'll see them mentioned in a future post!