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Five Men's Exercise Myths: These Common Misconceptions Could Be Derailing Your Workouts

Five Men's Exercise Myths: These Common Misconceptions Could Be Derailing Your Workouts


While women have an abundance of sources for up-to-the-minute workout information, men tend to subsist on half-remembered words of guidance from high-school gym instructors and the dubious anecdotes of well-meaning “weekend warrior” types. While there is no shortage of legitimate exercise information available, men are simply less likely than women to seek out help even when they desperately need it. Even when they’re not achieving the results they’d like, many men stubbornly persist in following outdated or simply incorrect workout advice.

Here we examine five of the most common misconceptions about men's exercise and workout routines. Check them out to make sure you're not tripping yourself up in your quest to get ripped.

Myth #1: No pain, no gain.

Oh, how I used to hate hearing this ubiquitous mantra from gym teachers. Perhaps it's the desire to achieve some sort of hyper-machismo through building huge muscles that leads many men to view intense aching the next day as a sign of a good workout, but it's just not true. Of course, you should push yourself during workouts, but not to the point of pain and exhaustion. In fact, straining your muscles to such an extent could lead to your having to take more time to recover between workouts, thereby preventing you from working out as often as you might like.

Myth #2: Stretching before a workout helps enhance performance and prevent injuries.

Another myth that's been repeated so frequently that it's accepted as fact by an overwhelming number of people is that stretching before exercise will somehow enhance your athletic performance and protect you against workout-related injuries. In fact, some recent studies have shown that pre-workout stretching may actually reduce performance and increase the risk of injuries! The only activities in which stretching beforehand has been shown to have a demonstrably positive effect are those requiring a greater-than-normal range of motion, such as gymnastics and yoga, and most men's workout activities simply do not fall into this category. Stretching afterwards may help build muscles more quickly, though, so save your former warm-up stretching for the cool-down — you just might show more positive gains.

Myth #3: Lifting weights slowly builds large muscles more quickly.

While lifting weights slowly may be advisable for the elderly or people rehabilitating from injury, lifting weights with speed actually activates more muscle fibers, building both strength and power, and is no more likely to cause injury than slow lifting. A faster workout not only takes less time, but is less fatiguing and will produce better long-term results.

Myth #4: You can get six-pack washboard abs using certain workout machines, exercise aids, or exercises.

Getting rid of a protruding gut is a primary workout goal for many men, but the fact of the matter is no matter how many crunches or reps you do with the "Ab Machine" you bought off of late-night TV, you simply can't target a specific area for weight loss. As covered in Women, Weight Loss, and Exercise: Separating Fact from Fiction, spot reduction is one of the most common exercise myths. Sure, doing all those sit-ups will help build abdominal muscle tone, but the only way those abs are ever going to be visible is by reducing the layer of fat hiding them from view, either through liposuction or diet and exercise.

Myth #5: Ogling women's chests gives men an aerobic workout.

When reports appeared claiming that males spending ten minutes gazing at a set of pleasing mammaries were achieving cardiovascular benefits equivalent to a 30 minute aerobic workout, many men were hoping and praying it would turn out to be true - if only to justify their own creepy gym behavior. But as usual, when something sounds too good to be true, it nearly always is. Unfortunately, the source for this “report” was the late, lamented Weekly World News, which also brought us such groundbreaking news stories as "A SPACE ALIEN TRIED TO MATE WITH MY HARLEY!" and "HOW TO TELL IF YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL IS GAY!" So, sad to say, this myth is just as unlikely to be factual. What a shame.

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