Certain fitness truisms have been preached for so long, it’s hard to accept that they might not be entirely accurate. Whether it’s bodyweight, running or weight training, fitness fake news is everywhere you look. But not for much longer. Here are five fitness myths busted once and for all.
Myth #1: Longer is better
Studies have proven that three 27-minute HIIT sessions a week (totalling 81 minutes) have the same anaerobic and aerobic benefits as five 60 minute aerobic cardio sessions a week (300 minutes). These benefits include a boost in metabolism, more calories burned and increased muscular endurance.
Myth #2: Bodyweight exercises don't build muscle.
Using your own body as resistance is an overloading stimulus for your muscles to not only gain strength, but also functional mass. Muscle is built through a combination of putting greater stress on the muscle than it is used to and resting the muscle so that it can adapt to the greater load. It doesn't matter how this resistance is achieved and actually, your shoulders won’t know the difference between Weighted Shoulder Shrugs and Pullups. So if someone tries to tell you this, don’t listen: with proper resistance, nutrition and rest, you can gain muscle through bodyweight workouts.
Myth #3: Strength training doesn’t benefit running performance
Strength training can enhance neural drive, which leads to performance gains through an increase in the rate of force development (RFD). RFD refers to how fast muscular force can be produced. The amount of force that can be produced during the start of a muscle contraction can have a major impact on performance.
For instance, during a 100m sprint, elite sprinters at top speed spend less time in contact with the ground on each foot strike than sub-elite sprinters. Yet the elite runners are more powerful and produce greater ground reaction forces with each foot strike. The high RFD of elite runners allows them to generate a lot of force rapidly, propelling them forward more quickly, meaning that they run faster. RFD and neural drive can both be improved by consistent strength training.
Myth #4: Running is all about the legs
Your core muscles are your stabilizing force when you run. They play a big role in keeping you upright and stable during runs and sprints. And the better your core muscles function, the longer you’ll be able to maintain an optimal running style. Dedicating time during your training week to working on your core will undoubtedly lead to an increase in running performance and efficiency.
And there’s more! Despite what you might think, running really does engage your arms and shoulders. To better understand how vital the arms are for balance while running, try running with your hands clasped behind your back. The faster you try to run without using your arms, the more obvious the lack of a stabilizing effect will be. These muscles are only actually trained to a small degree when running (they’re engaged but not necessarily challenged against resistance), so don’t expect to see huge any visual changes here.
Myth #5: Situps = six packs
Believe it or not, you actually already have a six pack. How? Well, the abdominal muscles are already segmented, but are usually hidden under a layer of body fat. The key to having a visible six pack is therefore having a low body fat percentage, not necessarily a super strong core. Just strengthening your abs with traditional core exercises isn’t enough - you also have to be lean enough for your abs to become visible.
On top of this, your core musculature is composed of the muscles around the spine, shoulder blades, lower back and stomach, forming a complex system of slings across your body. Traditional core exercises like Situps and Crunches only target a limited selection of these muscles; you should look further afield for a more rounded core strengthening experience that will give you muscular definition across the abdominals.
When it comes to fitness, it’s worth taking bold claims with a pinch of salt. A quick look into training science can easily show that not everything you hear is entirely true.