6 Myths About Low-Intensity Training
When it comes to fitness, there are quite a few myths, wrong ideas, and marketing schemes.
Sadly, the fitness sphere has become so oversaturated that you can easily find ten opinions on even the simplest of questions.
Low-intensity training, in particular, has been subjected to numerous claims and speculations, and folks either praise it as the best exercise modality in the world or as nothing more than a waste of time.
To that end, we've put together this guide for you. In it, we'll go over the six biggest myths about low-intensity training, and, more importantly, what you should know instead.
1. You Should Run/Cycle/Row Every Single Day
If there is one incredibly counterproductive myth in the world of fitness, it has to be this one:
More is better.
Well, it isn't. The fact is, your body needs time to recover. Once you've finished a demanding workout (be it jogging, rowing, cycling, or something else), you need to give your body time to recover.
Your muscles, joints, connective tissues, nervous system, hormones, and every system you can imagine will need some time to get back to normal. And if you don't respect your body and keep piling stress on top of stress, you'll soon find yourself aching all over, fatigued, irritable, and demotivated. The state is also known as overtraining.
So, remember that more is not always better. If you're new to exercising, start with three or four weekly workouts and give yourself at least a day of recovery in-between. It might sound counterproductive, but it's infinitely more sustainable and will deliver better results in the long-term.
2. You Need Low-Intensity, High-Repetition Work to Get Lean
When most folks decide that they want to get lean, they immediately jump on the high-rep ‘burn' training. It usually consists of using light weights and performing tons of repetitions and sets.
This myth came from the idea that we could spot reduce body fat. In other words, if you hammer a given muscle group (for example, your arms), you can make it lean and toned. This is further shoved into the heads of many folks through the typical ‘burn belly fat' or ‘get toned shoulders' type of workouts.
The fact is, while doing some high-repetition training might be beneficial for fat loss (primarily thanks to the caloric burn), it's not the end-all, be-all.
To lose fat and maintain your muscle mass (i.e., develop a lean and ‘toned' body), you need to do some heavy resistance training. But why?
Well, heavyweights provide mechanical tension to your muscles, which sends a strong signal that the active tissue is valuable and should not be burned off for energy. In other words, you are telling your body, “Hey, our muscle mass is valuable, and we need it for this type of physical activity. Don't burn it off for energy!”
The best part is, you don't need to do a lot of training to send that signal. In fact, as little as three weekly sessions of 45 minutes will be more than enough to help you get stronger and leaner.
3. Low-Intensity Training
Is The Best Way to Burn Fat
This is quite a common myth. If you were to ask twenty average people, “What do you think is the most important thing for fat loss?”, there is a good chance that at least half of them will point our low-intensity training.
Indeed, we've been conditioned to believe that cardio is the best way to go about losing fat, but that simply isn't the case.
Sure, it can be a tool to help you burn a few hundred extra calories and eat a bit more food while losing fat, but it certainly isn't the best option. What's more, as we covered in the previous myth, if you don't cause sufficient stimulus to your muscles through strength training, you will lose a lot of muscle alongside the fat – this commonly leads to the ‘skinny-fat' look.
4. Not Feeling Sore? You've Wasted Your Time.
Ah, the myth about muscle soreness. Have you ever heard someone tell you that you have to feel sore after working out? And that, if you don't, then you've wasted your time? I certainly have. And what's worse, I believed it for a long time.
Here's the truth:
No, you most certainly don't need to be sore after training for it to have a positive effect on you. Muscle soreness isn't an indicator of progress; it only indicates that you've caused muscle damage and cellular disruptions to your muscles.
What's more, soreness can often hinder your performance in subsequent workouts, so it's actually in your best interest to feel as little soreness as possible.
5. You Should Not Stop Training Until You're Completely Exhausted
More is better, right? No pain, no gain. To be sure, these beliefs mostly live in the bodybuilding world, but you can come across them no matter what your physical activities are.
The fact is, you should stop training before you're completely exhausted. You need to leave some fuel in the tank, and you most certainly don't have to feel like you've been hit by a train after every workout.
The goal is to stimulate, not annihilate. A moderate approach with a reasonable level of exertion will deliver much better results in the long-run. This is because change happens slowly. You can't force your body to change at an incredibly fast rate by doing more because there is a speed limit. At some point, doing more doesn't deliver better results; it only serves to overtrain and injure you.
6. Sweating More Means You've Achieved Better Results
“Cardio is better than weight training for fat loss because it makes you sweat more.”
This is one of those myths that make sense at first, but then, once you stop and think about it, realize just how dumb it is.
Sweating is nothing more than your body's way of cooling itself and preventing overheating. It's not an indicator of a good workout. It's not an indicator of fat loss. It's not an indicator of muscle gain. It's merely a side-effect of raising your core body temperature.
Do yourself a favor and remember this:
Sweating will have zero impact on your fitness progress or lack thereof. If that were the case, then the people who sweat the most would be the leanest. But that certainly isn't the case.
Focus on making consistent progress, eat better, do some strength training, and you will reap much better results than continually thinking, “Did I sweat enough today?”