Are any of these true or just hoary old wives’ tales slash cliches?
No pain, no gain
You wake up a little sore the morning after a gym session? Sure, that’s only natural. But feeling the strain while you’re actually working out? That’s a bad sign. Pain during exercise is the symptom of an injury, or poor technique that will lead to an injury. Don’t ignore it — lower the intensity of what you’re doing, or rest and recover, and see a physio if discomfort continues.
Running ruins your knees
A popular myth among those who dread cardio — but the worst thing for your knees is being overweight, something that running helps address. Jogging actually helps strengthen the cartilage in your knees rather than erode it, and it doesn’t cause arthritis — that condition is genetic, and benefits greatly from physical activity. The theory that treadmills are gentler on your joints than pounding the pavement is also total BS.
You must exercise in the morning
Studies have shown that your metabolism is a little quicker early in the morning, but if you’re not a morning person, don’t lose any sleep over not exercising with the sparrows — a feud with your snooze button isn’t a great way to start the day, and an evening workout might be a great way of burning off the stress of a long day at work. If you do start the day at the gym, have breakfast before you work out — it’s an old wives tale that exercising on an empty stomach forces your body to tap into its fat reserves, and it’s much more productive to train at full capacity after a good feed.
Crunches guarantee a six pack
You’ve been watching too many late-night TV infomercials if you subscribe to this one — crunches do indeed strengthen your abs, but shedding your beer belly is the key to actually seeing that washboard six-pack. And weight loss is a combination of what you do in the kitchen — sticking to a low-carb, high-protein, leafy green diet — as well as the gym. But remember, you can’t target weight loss in one particular area, so a thousand and one crunches aren’t going to burn that belly fat any more effectively than a well-rounded routine. Besides, squats, deadlifts and chin-ups are just as good for toning your abs.
Stretching is sacred
Well, your under-8s footy coach taught you to stretch your calves and hammies before you ran out each Saturday, so I guess that’s what you should still be doing before a work-out? Well, not really — research proves static stretching in fact weakens muscles and increases the risk of injury. Stretching after a work out helps prevent soreness, but warming up with dynamic rather than static movements — like gentle weights or cardio — is a better way of preparing your body for more intense training.