The biggest fitness fallacies

Christiane Fux studied journalism and psychology in Hamburg. Since 2001, the experienced medical editor has been writing magazine articles, news and non-fiction texts on all conceivable health topics. In addition to her work for NetDoktor, Christiane Fux is also a prose writer. In 2012, her first crime novel was published, and she also writes, designs and publishes her own crime novels.

Sore muscles are good, fitness drinks make you fit, fat pads can be specifically trained off – is that true?? Around sports& Fitness entwine many persistent myths. Learn here what to do about biggest fitness mistakes is really true.

Fitness fallacy no. 1: Sore muscles are caused by "acid" Muscles

If you feel every muscle the day after a workout, you haven’t just put in enough effort, you’ve simply overtaxed your body. Hard, aching muscles are a sign of tiny injuries to the muscle fibers. They occur when muscle cells are overstressed by unaccustomed strain. They fatigue as a result and can then no longer adequately cushion especially rapid deceleration movements – microtraumas occur.

Sore muscles have nothing to do with an excess of lactic acid (lactate), as was previously assumed. Lactate is actually formed in the muscles during exertion. But this is decomposed within a few hours. The actual pain is probably caused by inflammatory processes in the maltreated area. The debris of the injured cells is dissolved and removed, which makes the muscle swell up.

Sore muscles should therefore not be trained against the pain in order to break down the supposed lactic acid. It only makes things worse. Instead, gentle movements that promote blood circulation and thus accelerate the regeneration processes, as well as warmth from the sauna or bathtub, are helpful.

Fitness fallacy no. 2: Stretching protects against muscle soreness

The idea dates back to the 1960s, when researchers believed that sore muscles were caused by cramped muscles. In the meantime, however, microscopic injuries to muscle cells have been established as the cause of pain after exercise. The theory that stretching prevents muscle soreness is therefore invalid. Why should the torn fibers also heal better if you tug on them?

The opposite is more likely to be the case. Scientists at the University of Sydney have compiled the meager data on this topic and evaluated ten studies that examined the connection between stretching and muscle soreness. The result: neither before nor after training do stretching exercises prevent muscle soreness. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that stretching protects against injury.

Nevertheless, stretching the muscles can make sense: Because if you’re stiff and immobile, you’re more likely to get injured. In addition: Movement is created by the interaction of two muscles that act as opponents – one stretches, the other contracts at the same time. Only if the muscle is sufficiently stretchable, it can develop its full strength.

Fitness misconception no. 3: Muscle growth needs protein powder

Muscle mass consists primarily of protein. So if you want to have more muscles, you need sufficient building material – so far so good. However, the hope of making muscles grow just by diligently swallowing protein supplements is a fallacy: Only muscles that also work, grow and thrive.

Protein powders or drinks are not even necessary for that. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), adults under 65 should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. For example, if you weigh 70 kg, you should eat 56 grams of protein per day.

This amount is quickly achieved: A piece of cooked pork (150 g) already provides 42 grams of protein. A serving of peas (150 g) adds another 10.5 grams of protein to the mix. If the concerning eats on the same day for example still another cooked egg, a small yogurt and two slices Emmentaler, make that again more than 30 gram protein out.

With a balanced mixed food the daily protein need can be covered thus problem-free. In fact, on average, we consume a little more protein each day than we actually need. Our body receives as sufficient protein – for everyday life as well as for sports and muscle building.

The additional intake of protein powders is not only unnecessary, but sometimes even dangerous: Too much protein can cause kidney problems. The quality of the products – at least the cheap ones – often leaves a lot to be desired: Many preparations consist of collagen protein, which is extracted from cartilage, rinds and other animal waste.

Fitness fallacy no. 4: Fitness drinks make you fit

For sporting activities lasting less than an hour, water is completely sufficient as a thirst quencher. But most fitness drinks promise even more: power, energy and performance. Added nutrient salts are supposed to replace the electrolytes excreted through sweating, magnesium is supposed to prevent cramps, caffeine is supposed to increase performance, and sugar is supposed to replenish energy reserves. However, many of the added ingredients are completely superfluous. Only sodium and carbohydrates can be useful for prolonged endurance sports.

However, the energy kick from the bottle is decidedly counterproductive for people who want to use training to slim down: just a few sips are enough to replace the energy (calories) consumed after half an hour of sweating.

Fitness fallacy no. 5: Fat burning starts after 30 minutes

According to a persistent myth, fat burning does not start until 30 minutes after the start of training. In reality, however, the body burns both glucose and fat from the very first step.

However, there is a grain of truth in the myth: Since the glucose stores become emptier and emptier in the course of training, fat burning increases as compensation – and after 20 to 30 minutes it runs at full speed.

Fitness misconception no. 6: If you exert yourself too much, you burn less fat

Another rumor: people who work out too hard burn less fat than those who take it easy. It is true that the percentage of fat burned is particularly high during light endurance training: those who train in the aerobic zone get 80 percent of the energy they need from their fat reserves, the remaining 20 percent from carbohydrates. This is supposed to be the case at a pulse rate of about 130 ("Fat-Burner"-area), although there are individual differences here.

If the load (and thus the pulse) is higher, this ratio changes: Then up to 80 percent of the energy comes from burned carbohydrates and only 20 percent from fat. Since the higher load also devours much more energy, the total amount of fat consumed can still be significantly higher than with light training in the fat burner area.

If you want to lose weight, the fat burner area is of secondary importance anyway. More important here is the negative balance of ingested to consumed energy, which means: For the pounds to tumble, the body must consume more calories than it absorbs from food.

For endurance athletes like marathon runners, on the other hand, the fat-burner area does play a role: Only those who train their bodies to tap into fat reserves effectively can last a marathon. This requires much more training than the average recreational athlete can do.

Fitness fallacy no. 7: Targeted fat burning in problem areas is possible

Especially for women, the so-called problem zone gymnastics for abdomen, legs and buttocks goes down well. It is true: Tight muscles in the critical areas also tighten the figure – a muscular abdomen, for example, sags less and is therefore flatter.

However, targeted fat loss in the problem zones can hardly be achieved even with certain exercises. Although the training can boost the metabolism at the hips or belly. The lion’s share of the required energy is not taken from the local fat depots, but from stores where it is available more quickly – this is the case, for example, in the face and on the decollete. However, fat is particularly stubborn on the hips and thighs, which is why problem zones develop here in the first place.

Fitness fallacy no. 8: Strength training makes you fit

If you have a lot of muscles, you look fit. Nevertheless, many a strongman quickly runs out of breath. Because with the Stemmen of dumbbells and Co. it depends on a large, but only short use of force. And this hardly demands the cardiovascular system.

However, weight training is an important supplement to endurance training. It specifically builds up muscles that support the spine, for example, which prevents bad postures that are prone to wear and tear.

Fitness fallacy no. 9: Swimming is good for the back

This is only partially true: Swimming does strengthen the back muscles, which can relieve painful tension and prevent poor posture.

People who already have problems with their spine, however, can even be harmed by water sports. In particular, untrained swimmers who stretch their necks wide to keep their mouths and noses above the water place enormous strain on their cervical vertebrae and muscles. Cramps and tensions are the possible consequences.

On the other hand, crawling and backstroke are optimal for the back: When practiced correctly, the body lies horizontally in the water.

Fitness mistake no. 10: Nordic walking is only for grannies

Admittedly: What many people do, shuffling through the countryside armed with sticks, has little to do with endurance sports. However, the situation is completely different if Nordic Walking is practiced correctly – i.e. using about 70 percent of the entire musculature.

The calorie consumption is not quite as high as with sweaty jogging, but nevertheless considerable. However, the right technique requires some practice. After all, Nordic Walking was originally developed for the training of top athletes. The best way to learn the sport is with the help of a trainer, who corrects incorrect movement patterns before they become a habit.

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