1. Deep squats are bad for your back and knees
Granted deep squats are not suitable for everyone (especially those with orthopaedic or structural balance issues) but for a majority of us getting range and depth with squats is the best and safest way to train. It is true with most exercises that increasing the range of movement will heighten muscle activation. Deep range squats also activate the VMO muscle of the inner thigh, a typically weak muscle for most people that is a common cause for knee pain.
Anatomically the knees are in a well supported position at the bottom of the squat, and as long as the lumbar and thoracic spine remain in extension, the back is also well placed. So don’t shirk it next time you’re squatting. Get that arse to the floor! (n.b If you have flexibility issues with the traditional back squat, then try body squats, dumbbell squats, heel raise squats and also high block steps ups as a starting point.)
2. Doing lots of crunches will burn fat around the middle
Although this would be nice if it were true, it simply isn’t the case. Spot reducing through exercise is a myth, and although obviously you can build muscle in an area, you cannot burn fat by working that area. Each person will burn fat according to their genetic and hormonal profile, so the best way to get rid of those unwanted wobbles is to do an all round exercise routine that uses the most energy and increases metabolism. Certain supplements can also aid your hormonal profile, which in turn can help fat metabolism.
3. Cardio training burns more calories than strength training
Although cardio training has become very popular, and the floor space in most gyms is dominated by CV machines, the science backing the benefits of this type of training is very thin. One thing for certain is that CV training plateaus very quickly, so most people will fail to see results after an initial 6 week period. Strength training offers more variety in terms of training the different energy systems, and it also increases metabolism for up to 72 hours after training, something sorely lacking from CV training. For increased energy consumption, supersets, tri sets, giant sets and circuits are a much more efficient way to burn calories.
4. Machine weights target muscles more than free weights.
In the battle for gym floor space, CV machines may be top dog, but machine weights are closing in fast. The major limiting factor for machine weights, as opposed to free weights, is that the plane of movement is completely fixed, meaning the smaller stabiliser muscles that usually work through all movements do not have to be switched on for the movement to occur. In essence, the machine largely stabilises the movement for you. With free weights, the extra stability required to move the weight gives you a higher level of muscle activation and increases motor unit activity.
5. You need to train for more than 60 minutes to get the most out of your workout.
This could not be further from the truth. Most people will peak at around 20-25 minutes into their workout. After 45 minutes testosterone begins to drop, whilst cortisol begins to rise. Cortisol is a hormone that works in break down mode, so training whilst hormonally you are breaking down muscle is counterproductive. If you have the time and want fast results, it is much more effective to do 2 separate training sessions per day, leaving 6 hours between sessions to maximise results.