There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness, which isn’t that surprising given how different it is for different people. Some people train to compete, while others train to stay healthy. Some people love cardio and some would rather lift weights all day. This variety of perspectives is enough to overwhelm a beginner, so let’s cut through the noise with a list of fitness misconceptions you can safely ignore.
But before we dive in, what does Matter? I would summarize the important things as follows:
That’s all you really need to know to get moving. What follows is a list of things that (in my opinion) beginners worry way too much about. That doesn’t mean this stuff doesn’t matter at allbut she are Things you can largely ignore and still be able to get stronger, fitter, faster, and healthier.
It hardly matters how many repetitions of an exercise you do
You should do eight to twelve repetitions any strength exercise? Or five sets of five?
During Shorter sets are designed to build strength and longer sets are designed to build sizethe truth is that Strength and size go together. As you get stronger, your muscles get bigger and vice versa. As a beginner, you really don’t need to worry about being 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 ten give similar results.
You don’t have to change your body weight right away
People often start exercising when they decide to lose fat or gain muscle. Some exercise programs come with instructions that say you should eat a lot of food and “bulk” while doing them. others assume that your goal is to lose weight and that you want to gain weight calorie deficit.
If you want to resize your body, it’s up to you. But you don’t have to tie that to your fitness goals. You can just start exercising now and decide later if you want to be bigger or smaller or if you are happy with the size you are. (Please make sure you receive enough proteinalthough.)
There’s nothing wrong with taking “walk breaks” while running
One of the first things you need to learn when you start running is how to run slow enough that you don’t exhaust yourself in the first 30 seconds. You also need to understand that your body needs to build the fitness to be able to to run continuously. You might not be ready for a straight half-hour run just yet. That’s the idea behind walk-run approaches like couch up to 5K.
But one Downside of a couch up to 5K is that many see the running parts as “real” running and the walking parts as “breaks” or as somehow failing at the task of running. The thing is, if you can get from the start to finish line of a race (5k or otherwise) at anything other than a full walking pace, you’ve run it. What’s more, you’re still building cardio fitness when you walk fast, and that cardio fitness will eventually allow you to run more, 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 nearly parallel, and you’re injuring yourself, then something is wrong. But if you’re squatting a loaded barbell and it feels good and the weight moves well, you don’t need to compulsively watch videos of yourself looking for subtle signs of “knee cave” or “butt wink.”
Yes, maybe you’re not perfect yet. Nobody is. But if you’re lifting safely and effectively, your form is good enough. You will refine it over time.
You cannot waste your rookie winnings
When you’re new to the sport, it’s easy to make progress. You’ll build more muscle and strength in your first year of strength training than you will in any subsequent year, which is pretty cool.
This is only because, as a beginner, you can collect a lot of low-hanging fruit. It is not because newbie gains are kind of a magic spell with an expiry date. The principle of novice gains simply states that the weaker you are, the more room you have for improvement.
In short, you can’t “waste” or “lose” your rookie gains by taking a break in the first year. And you still have plenty of room to improve even after you get past the noob phase.
No single device is so special
It’s easy to get sucked into the marketing hype booty bands or ankle weights or pelotons, or airbikes, or this weird machine that lets you do an assisted squat.
None of this matters. There are literally hundreds of ways to train your booty without booty bands. Not a single piece of equipment is essential, not even my beloved barbell. as long as you do some kind of cardio and some kind of strength trainingyou will be ok
Your training schedule doesn’t matter
One way to organize your strength training is by body part: chest on Monday, back and biceps on Tuesday for example. You can do a five-day split, or a push-pull legs split, or an upper-lower split, and there are good ones programs who follow each of them.
But the separation self never mind. A split is just organization. Asking for the best split is like saying, “I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Is that good nutrition?”
There is no “best” warm-up routine
Whether we’re talking about cardio or strength, The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare you for the workout ahead. Maybe you have a body part that tends to be stiff; Some stretching exercises for this area can help you relax. You may need to practice correct technique for one of your exercises to make sure you’re doing it right; A few warm-up technique exercises can help you succeed.
That said, there is no “right” warm-up for everyone. If you have no idea what to do when you hit the gym, hop on a cardio machine or do some bodyweight exercises (lungs, push-ups, rows) and then start your workout for the day. If your body needs something more specific, it will let you know.
You don’t have to worry about your heart rate (at first).
All gadgets these days can measure your heart rate and tell you if you’re in the right “zone” for the type of workout you intend to do. But they all use a formula based on your maximum heart rate, and they’re probably wrong. There are formulas that can do that guess your maximum heart rate, everyone is differentand your gadget doesn’t really know your maximum heart rate unless you’re at maximum effort (which you probably never are as a beginner).
Instead, know that most cardio exercise should be done in “Zone 2,” which is the exertion level where you breathe a little heavier than when you’re resting, but you can still hold a conversation easily and don’t feel out of breath. The other zones are higher, with zones 4 and 5 (in most systems) being an effort level you can sustain for less than a minute. First, orient yourself to these perceived exertion levels and simply notice what your heart rate is when you are in it. If a heart rate of 135 feels hot and sweaty but not killer, that’s probably in your Zone 2, no matter what your watch says.
You don’t have to worry about the mind-muscle connection
Can you feel this muscle works? It’s okay if you can’t. Some people have trouble feeling certain muscles working; some of us don’t pay attention at all, and we still get stronger.
There’s no way you can do a pull-up or pull-down without engaging your lats. There’s no way to do a bicep curl without involving your biceps. There’s no way to bench press without engaging your chest and triceps. When you do the exercise, the muscle works whether you feel it or not.
Your strength will vary from day to day
We’re not at our best every day. You know this from everyday life: You don’t expect to be optimally concentrated at work every day or to be patient with your children every second of every hour. So why are we so surprised when we did five pull-ups on Monday but only three today?
The truth is that myriad factors affect our performance in the gym, not the least of which is fatigue from our previous workouts. That’s not a bad thing; feeling tired is part of the same process that ultimately makes us stronger. We have a guide to when to expect to break personal records at the gymand understand this: the answer is not “literally every day”.
You don’t have to know what you’re doing on day one
If you’re new to the gym, you probably assume everyone there knows what they’re doing and you’ll be the underdog. But the truth is, a lot of people in there don’t know what they’re doing. That’s not a bad thing; We all find life out somehow as we move on. It can be useful to think of training as “growing up”—something many of us feel intimidated about but somehow manages to do.
Don’t worry if you’re the weakest or most untrained person out there; Going to the gym is how you fix it. And if someone tells you that you’re doing something wrong, don’t second-guess all of your life choices up to that point. Just read our guide to dealing with unsolicited gym advice.