Exercise is filled with misconceptions.
Everyone out there seems to have ideas in their heads about what works and what doesn’t, which is why the best thing you can do is turn to the actual science of how your body works for answers.
Recently, we chatted with Rutgers exercise scientist Shawn Arent and asked him what the two biggest misconceptions are about exercise.
What he pointed to was very interesting: People have the wrong idea about both weight lifting and cardio. Almost everyone benefits from mixing it up and doing both, and if people understood the truth, that healthy mix might become the norm.
“I think one [misconception] is if you lift weights you’ll get big and bulky. It’s just not true; you get so many health benefits from it. Women in particular tend to say ‘oh I don’t want to get that big.’ You don’t have the hormones to support getting that big. And especially if you’re doing a lot of aerobic exercise, it’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get that big and bulky …
“It (cardiovascular exercise) actually cuts into the protein synthesis recovery that you see following resistance training. And one of the things that resistance training does is that it creates selective hypertrophy or growth in Type 2 muscle fibers, your fast twitch muscle fibers. Aerobic exercise favors type 1 muscle fibers. And so what happens is the difference in where your hypertrophy is favored and the difference in the biochemical environments support that.
“It doesn’t mean that you can’t gain muscle that way, it just means that you wouldn’t gain as much as if you had [only] been lifting …
“Another misconception that’s been circulating quite a bit is that you don’t need to do cardio, that cardio’s bad … the whole idea that you lose muscle mass, and so now if you regain weight what you’re really putting on is body fat.
“It’s almost like cardio has become the carbs of the fitness world … like it was ‘don’t eat carbs they’re bad for you,’ and all the sudden it’s like ‘don’t do cardio.’ Cardio is good for you! And this is coming from somebody who doesn’t like to do cardio. I’m more on the power and strength side — bodybuilding and stuff, that’s me. But cardio’s important, and cardio has a lot of health benefits; you don’t have to shy away from it. But the flip to that is — don’t just do cardio either. The resistance training is a critical part of any good workout program.”