Fitness Articles

Common Fitness Blunders - Part 2

Even Experienced Exercisers Can Be Guilty of These

Check out Common Fitness Blunders Part 1 for Blunders 1 and 2.

Blunder #3: Believing the Myths

There are too many to count. Fitness myths are created for many reasons, but are mainly the result of people unknowingly spreading inaccurate information. Sometimes they are blatant sales approaches to try to get you to buy the latest book, training sessions, or exercise contraption.

There is no miracle solution. The great thing about exercise, just like life, is that there are many different ways to success. Figure out a way that works for you, but don’t fall into the trap and believe these myths.
  • Myth #1: You will burn more fat if you exercise at a slower intensity. I’m not sure how this started. Maybe the theory behind it believes that exercising at a slow intensity will help you sustain your exercise and create consistency-- which, again, is very important. The problem is you will only condition yourself at a very low level, which won’t help you burn the necessary calories you need to lose weight. Yes, it’s good to start out with this theory in mind so you don’t burn yourself out. But it’s paramount that you increase your intensity over time.
  • Myth #2: Use light weight to tone your muscles. This always seems to imply that you shouldn’t lift more than what you consider "light". Maybe it’s 5, 10, or even 15 pounds, but you shouldn’t necessarily put a limit on what you should lift. Instead you should put a minimum and maximum on how many times you perform an exercise. Weight should always be relative to how many repetitions you can do. If you can only do 4-6 reps with proper form, the weight is too heavy. If you can do 15-20 reps and feel like you could easily do more, even if you are lifting 100 lbs, you are using a weight that is too light. This doesn’t mean you have to push yourself so hard that you don’t want to ever exercise again. But you should push yourself to the point where you couldn’t do another rep without breaking form the majority of the time if you want to achieve a toned body. Of course, beginners are recommended to work your way up to this point.
  • Myth #3: Abdominal exercises will help get rid of the fat around your belly. The key to lowering your body fat is burning calories. The best way to torch calories is through cardio. The core muscles are very important to strengthen but unfortunately you don’t burn many calories by working them. Therefore, spending most of your exercise time each workout on abdominal exercises doesn’t make sense. You will burn many more calories and lose overall body fat in all areas of your body by working your larger muscle groups… quadriceps, upper back, chest, shoulders and hamstring/buttocks. Riding a bike, running on a treadmill, or doing the elliptical works all of these large muscle groups, but it’s also important to add a bit more resistance with strength training exercises.
  • Myth #4: You have to be an athlete to exercise. Exercise has always been linked directly with athletes because it helps them condition themselves to improve their performance. Unfortunately, exercise hasn’t been linked with the improvement of everyday life as much as it should. Every person benefits from exercise. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different ways to exercise… find the right training that links to your lifestyle.
Blunder #4: Not Being Consistent

One of the biggest blunders of an exercise program is the lack of consistency. It’s very similar to climbing a mountain. There may be all sorts of reasons why you want to climb your "mountain"— to lose weight, to gain energy, to improve health, or to fit into your favorite jeans.

You exercise for 2 weeks, then you have to work overtime, so you take a whole week off. You get back to the gym for another week, and you’re feeling great. A couple days later, you have to go to your son’s basketball game, and a few days later, your parents are in town for the weekend. Your exercise quickly falls low on the priority list. Does this sound familiar? You might get over the foothills of your mountain with this approach, but there’s no chance you’ll ever see that beautiful view you have in your mind.

Does that mean you have to exercise every day to be consistent? NO! It means that you need a plan that incorporates fitness into your weekly schedule. This way you continue to climb upwards. The key is not letting yourself tumble back down to the bottom, so even holding steady or just taking one step forward is enough.

Maybe your forward progress starts with 2 days of exercise for 20 minutes until you reach the foothills. Yes, it might take you longer to get over the foothills this way, as opposed to working out 6 days a week for an hour, but it’s a process that allows you to adapt and adjust your current lifestyle to incorporate change for the long haul. When you're ready to tackle that first small mountain, bump it up to 3 days of exercise for 25 minutes. You can actually enjoy the process because it doesn't take everything out of you to get this far, and you find yourself excited to add to your program. This excitement is the motivation that will eventually lead you as far as you want to go. A good view to shoot for is 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.

At some point something will come up in life that knocks you back down a little bit. It’s only natural that your excitement level can plummet when this happens. But if you expect it and are prepared, you can limit the impact it has on your climb. All the successful climbers understand it’s part of the process. They LEARN from whatever knocks them back so it doesn’t hurt them again at another point along the journey.

Learning how to overcome a tumble, slowly building on your plan, and using excitement as motivation are keys to making exercise a part of your lifestyle. This lifestyle will help you climb that mountain and enjoy the view from the top. From there, it’s all about maintenance.

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Member Comments

  • I definitely agree with the part about
    r me. I find that if I skip a couple of days because "I am too busy" then it becomes a habit to skip. I have had to learn that if I can't get work out for a whole hour, then try for ten minutes or twenty minutes. At least then I am doing something instead of nothing, and I haven't gotten off track.
    Ooops.... my apologies, Joe; should have read "he" not she!
    "Myth #1: You will burn more fat if you exercise at a slower intensity".
    You WILL burn more fat if you exercise at a slower intensity; if you are looking at the percentage of calories burned from fat (though your body will turn to recently ingested fat cals before our fat stores :( ). This means you need to go slow for a loooonger amount of time to utilize the same TOTAL number of calories you could burn at a higher intensity. Therefore, she is correct in saying that you will burn MORE (total) calories at a slightly higher intensity due to the effort involved, particularly if you don't want to set out on a hike for the afternoon :).

    "Myth #2: Use light weight to tone your muscles. "
    Recently read that this "myth" might be (slightly?) true. Recent research has now shown that one can yield more strength and nervous system benefit from lifting lighter weight for more repetitions (at least 10x) than heavier weights for fewer reps (less than 8x).

    (source: includes but not limited to "The First 20 Minutes" by Gretchen Reynolds)

    Sometimes the answers are not so clear, especially when looking at something as complicated as the human machine that we are. (No matter what, exercise is so darn important, no matter how old, overweight, achey or out of I guess Nike wins with their infamous slogan: Just Do It!)
  • Been thinking to keep extra workout clothes and jump rope at office, so everytime I have to do overtime, I can sneak out for 10-min workouts. Consistency is important. Once you skip (based on my experience), have to start all over again.
  • #4 is what I'm having a problem with. I'm finding it hard to keep my program consistent. I will do great for a while then I'll slack off.
  • I'm getting an education in fitness being a SPARKER.
  • I am guilty of Blunder #3 I always believed in the fact you will get instant gratification
    This article simply answered the question that I have been pondering over. Everyone has different opinions and that also comes with personal trainers. Article written CLEARLY makes more sense.

    Thank you SP!!

About The Author

Joe Downie Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.