Getting your hands on solid, reliable information on exercise and fitness can be a tricky process. The exercise industry is a multi-billion dollar business, built partially on selling gadgets and supplements to people desperate to lose weight or look attractive. Meanwhile, good workout plans and simple truths sit in the background with little attention placed on them. All of this results in loads of misinformation about exercise.
Now, in the past, we’ve chatted about food myths, brain myths, and even body myths. This time, we’re taking a look at the biggest, most established exercise myths out there. For this, we sought out the help of Dr Brian Parr, Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
Check out our biggest learnings below:
Myth 1: No Pain, No Gain
While it’s absolutely true that you should push yourself and try to extend the limits of your endurance when you exercise, it’s not true at all that the best workouts are the ones that leave you feeling horrible, sore and beat up the next day. Discomfort is natural, but pain? No way.
“The idea that exercise should hurt is simply wrong — muscle pain during or following exercise usually suggests an injury,” Dr Parr explains.
“However, some muscle soreness is unavoidable, especially if you are new to exercise.”
This myth has been debunked by doctors, physical therapists, and researchers of all stripes, but it still persists because most people conflate the idea of pushing themselves to work out harder with pain. This myth is so persistent that even MythBusters tackled it. It’s important to remember that your workouts should still be challenging, but if you’re experiencing pain, you should stop. In fact, if your workouts hurt, you probably won’t be as motivated to continue them, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
Myth 2: Soreness After Exercise Is Caused By Lactic Acid Building Up In Your Muscles
So, what is that soreness you get a day or two after working out? It’s called DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness,) and the belief that it’s caused by lactic acid building up in your muscles while you exercise is false. Dr Parr explains that this isn’t the case:
“A common belief is that lactic acid build-up in the muscle causes muscle soreness. This is based on the fact that during intense exercise like weight training the muscles make energy for contraction anaerobically (without oxygen), which leads to lactic acid production. This is in contrast to aerobic exercises like walking or jogging that produce energy using oxygen, with little lactic acid build-up. This belief that lactic acid causes DOMS has been shown to be false since any lactic acid that is produced during exercise is cleared shortly after you finish, long before muscle soreness begins.”
Instead, that soreness is actually caused by tears in your muscle that occur as you exercise — especially if you’re just starting an…