Five fallacies about fitness

Vinny Vasquez

1. Crunches are the best way to work your abs. Our everyday life has us sitting most of the day in front of a computer or in a classroom/office with our backs hunched over. Everybody wants to improve their posture and core strength, yet I ALWAYS see people do endless crunches. A crunch or sit-up involves pulling the sternum towards the pelvis, worsening any signs of possible kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine) that may be present. Remember, the main function of the “core” muscles as a whole, is not to flex the trunk like in a crunch/sit-up, but instead to prevent rotational forces, transfer power from the lower to the upper body and provide stability. Also, you can work your abs until the cows come home, but unless you have a low body fat percentage, you will never get to see them.2. Running is the best way to lose fat.A timeless classic. First of all, you can’t run to get in shape. You have to be in shape to run and, most importantly, to remain injury free. Doing something is better than doing nothing. That’s simple, but pick something that you will stick to. There is cardiovascular activity using cardio machines, which, I hate to tell you, grossly overestimates calories burned during exercise (up to 33 percent sometimes). But don’t ignore other options like lifting weights, playing sports or walking the dog; whatever gets you moving. 3. Lifting will stunt childrens’ growth. Kids jump all over the place and sprint all the time. A supervised and properly designed strength training program, using both body weight exercises and sub-maximal lifting, can greatly enhance bone density and strengthen their joints, two of the reasons why resistance training is also recommended for older people. The benefits of strength training, such as improved athletic performance and injury prevention, clearly outweigh the possible risks.   4. Women shouldn’t lift weights.The biggest fear for any female new to working out is getting “bulky,” or looking manly, as result of lifting weights. However, women are not naturally predisposed to packing on lean mass as they lack the necessary testosterone levels. Quite possibly the most perpetuated myth in fitness history. If you ask any woman who strength trains on a regular basis, chances are she will tell you lifting weights was a turning point on her quest to obtaining (or getting closer to) that desired physique. If you are new to working out, or if you are a lost “Cardio Queen,” seriously consider adding resistance training to your program. And while I’m at it: 5. Lifting light weights for high reps will “tone” muscles.Sure! And you can also do Pilates to “elongate” your muscles. Complete and utter nonsense.Whether you look “bulky” or “toned” will depend on the amount of body fat you carry around those muscles. Keep in mind, no amount of repetitions on the sitting abduction/adduction machine will magically lean out your legs. You simply cannot out-train a poor diet.  ? With so many informational resources during this day and age, there’s no excuses to keep falling for these myths. Next time, I’ll take a hard look at the lies surrounding the nutritional aspect of fitness.