There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness, which isn’t all that surprising when you think about how it means different things to different people. Some people train for competitions, while others exercise to stay healthy. Some people love cardio and others prefer to lift weights all day. This variety of perspectives is enough to overwhelm a beginner, so let’s break the noise with a list of fitness misconceptions you can safely ignore.
But before we dive in, what does matter? I would boil down the important things to the following:
That’s all you really need to know to get moving. What follows is a list of things that (in my opinion) beginners spend too much time worrying about. That doesn’t mean these things don’t matter absolutelybut they are things you can mostly ignore and still be able to get stronger, fitter, faster and healthier.
It hardly matters how many repetitions of an exercise you do
Should you do eight to 12? repetitions of each strength exercise? Or five sets of five?
While Shorter sets are supposed to increase strength and longer sets are supposed to increase size.The truth is that strength and size go together. When you get stronger, your muscles get bigger and vice versa. As a beginner, you really don’t need to worry about whether you’re in the “optimal” rep range for your goals, as long as each set feels like hard work. Heavier weight sets of five and lighter weight sets of 10 will give similar results.
You don’t need to change your body weight right away
People often start exercising at the same time they decide they would like to lose fat or gain muscle. Some exercise programs come with instructions that say you should eat a ton of food and “bulk up” while you run them; others assume that your goal will be to lose weight and that you will want to create a calorie deficit.
If you want to change your body size, it’s up to you. But you don’t need to connect that with your fitness goals. You can just start exercising now and decide later if you want to be bigger or smaller or if you’re okay with the size you are. (Please make sure you get enough proteinalthough.)
It’s not bad to take “walk breaks” when you run
One of the first things you should learn when you start running is how to run slow enough Don’t get exhausted in the first 30 seconds. You must also understand that your body needs to develop the physical condition to be can to run continuously. You may not be ready for a continuous half-hour run just yet. That’s the idea behind the walk and run approaches as Couch to 5K.
But one disadvantage of a couch at 5k is that many think that the running parts are “real” runs and the walking parts are “rests” or failures in some way in the running task. The thing is, if you get from the start to the finish line of a race (5K or more) at any pace other than walking, you’ve done it. What’s more, you’re still developing cardiovascular fitness when you walk fast, and that cardiovascular fitness is what will eventually allow you to run faster and faster.
You don’t need “perfect” form in your exercises
Perfect form is overrated. You need a form that is good enough. If your squat is a complete mess, your knees are touching, your thighs aren’t anywhere near parallel, and it hurts when you squat, then yes, something is wrong. But if you’re squatting with a loaded barbell and it feels good and the weight moves well, you don’t need to obsessively watch videos of yourself again for subtle signs of “knee cave” or “butt wink.”
Yeah, maybe you’re not perfect yet. Nobody is. But if you’re lifting weights safely and effectively, your form is good enough. You will refine it as you go.
You can’t waste your rookie earnings
When you’re new to exercise, it’s easy to progress. You will gain more muscle and strength in your first year of lifting than in any following year, which is great.
This is just because there are a lot of fruits that you can collect as a beginner. It is not because rookie earnings are some kind of magic spell with an expiration date. The principle of rookie gains simply states that the weaker you are, the more room you have to improve.
Bottom line: You can’t “waste” or “lose” your rookie earnings if you take a break during your first year. And he’ll still have plenty of room to improve even after he’s out of the rookie stage.
No team is that special
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype that surrounds swag bands either ankle weights Or platoons or airbikes or that weird machine that lets you do an assisted squat.
None of this is important. There are literally hundreds of ways to exercise your booty without booty bands. No equipment is essential, not even my beloved bar. while you’re doing some type of cardio and some type of strength trainingyou’ll be fine.
Your training split doesn’t matter
One way to organize your strength training is by body parts: chest on Monday, back and biceps on Tuesday, for example. You can do a five-day split, or a push-pull-leg split, or an upper-lower split, and there are good programs that follow each of them.
But the division itself does not matter. A division is just organization. Asking about the best split is like saying, “I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Is that a good diet?
There is no “best” warm-up routine.
Whether we’re talking about cardio or strength, the goal of a warm-up is to prepare you for the workout ahead. Maybe you have a body part that tends to be stiff; a few stretches for that area can help you get in shape. Maybe you need to practice proper technique for one of your exercises to make sure you get it right; Some technique exercises in the warm-up can help set you up for success.
That means there is no “right” warm-up for everyone. If you have no idea what to do when walking in the gym, hop on a cardio machine or do some bodyweight exercises (strides, push-ups, rows) and then start your workout for the day. If your body needs something more specific than that, it will let you know.
You don’t need to worry about your heart rate (at first)
All devices these days can measure your heart rate and tell you if you’re in the right “zone” for the type of training you intend to do. But everyone uses a formula based on your maximum heart rate and they are probably wrong. Although there are formulas that can guess your maximum heart rate, every body is differentand your device doesn’t really know his max heart rate unless you’ve maxed out (which, as a beginner, you probably never have).
Instead, know that most cardio should be done in “zone 2,” which is the level of exertion where you’re breathing a little harder than at rest, but you can still carry on a conversation easily and not feel breathless. The other zones are higher, with zones 4 and 5 (on most systems) being a level of effort you can sustain for less than a minute. Follow these levels of perceived exertion at first and just watch what your heart rate is when you’re at them. If a heart rate of 135 feels hot and sweaty but not deadly, you’re probably in your zone 2, no matter what your watch says.
You don’t need to worry about the mind-muscle connection
May feel that muscle working? It’s okay if you can’t. Some people have trouble feeling how specific muscles work; some of us never pay attention to it at all, and yet we grow stronger.
There is no way to do a lat pullup or pulldown without using the lats. There is no way to do a bicep curl without engaging your biceps. There is no way to bench press without engaging your chest and triceps. If you’re doing the exercise, the muscle is working, whether you feel it or not.
Your strength will fluctuate from day to day.
We are not at our best every day. You know that about everyday life: You don’t expect to be optimally focused at work every day or equally patient with your kids every second of every hour. So why are we so surprised if we did five pull-ups on Monday but only three today?
The truth is that countless factors affect our performance in the gym, including fatigue from our previous workouts. That’s not a bad thing; feeling fatigued is part of the same process that ultimately makes us stronger. We have a guide to when you can expect to break personal records in the gymand understand this: the answer is not “literally every day”.
You don’t need to know what you’re doing on the first day.
If you’re new to the gym, you probably assume everyone knows what they’re doing, and you’ll be the outsider. But the truth is that a lot of people in there don’t know what they’re doing. That’s not a bad thing; we all realize life as we go. It might make sense to think of exercise as “growing up,” something that many of us are intimidated by, but somehow manage to do anyway.
Don’t worry if you are the weakest person or out of shape; going to the gym is the way to fix that. And if someone tells you he’s doing something wrong, don’t question all of your life choices up to that point. I just read our guide to dealing with unsolicited gym advice.