We’re not saying that those viral “coregasm” TikToks made us more motivated to hit the gym … but we’re not not saying that, either. This amplified interest in working out made us realize that we have questions. Like, is being sore a legitimate reason to skip the gym? Is working out two days in a row a bad idea? Or are we making excuses because we’d rather go to happy hour and flirt with the hot, emotionally unavailable bartender? Turns out, these are pretty common things people are confused about.
To get some answers, we tapped certified personal trainer Sydney Cummings. Below, she weighs in on five workout misconceptions.
Myth: You should work out even if you’re sore.
“Soreness does come in degrees of severity and is experienced due to pushing past a previous limit and not having the right amount of rest, recovery time, or nutrients. It can happen to beginners all the way to advanced athletes,” Sydney says. In general, she advises that if soreness prevents us from moving in a normal range of motion for each exercise—after warming up—either switch to a different muscle group or take a rest day. This could look like stretching, going for a walk, or refueling so we can get a better workout the next day.
“Pushing through intense soreness increases the likelihood of movement compensation or synergistic muscle dominance, which can both potentially lead to injury,” Sydney says. Basically, it may force our less-sore muscles to pick up the slack for our sore ones, which can cause poor form and injury.
Which brings us to …
Myth: If you're not sore after a workout, you need to work out harder.
“Soreness is not an indicator of a successful or effective workout,” Sydney says. “Soreness can sometimes be the opposite, to where it is more an indicator that you could potentially be exceeding your body’s ability to recover.” As mentioned above, soreness can be caused by a variety of things, and can happen to anyone, regardless of their fitness level. However, it’s not a gauge of how effective your workout was.
Myth: You shouldn’t work out two days in a row.
(Not us trying to find an excuse to skip the gym.) “Yes, you can work out two days in a row,” Sydney says. “My only advice is to not exercise a muscle or muscle group intensely in isolation two days in a row. For example, I wouldn’t do bicep curls to failure two days in a row. But to use a muscle group within a full body workout two days in a row should be OK for most people in most circumstances.”
Myth: You shouldn’t work out on the first day of your period.
“This is different for every woman, as some women experience more intense symptoms around their period,” Sydney says. “Always listen to your body, but also try and see if a bit of movement can help your period symptoms decrease. You don’t have to commit to a workout that is high intensity, but for some women it’s possible that some low-intensity, lighter weight exercises will help your cramping muscles or your low energy!”
Myth: If you want to lose weight, you need to prioritize cardio.
“As a personal trainer with a division 1 athlete background, I tend to train my audience with a strength and conditioning focus—meaning we use challenging weights quite often. I get a lot of questions around needing to add cardio to strength training,” Sydney says. “Many people are under the impression that resistance training means you’re working out to build muscle, not to lose fat, and that adding in cardio is how they will lose weight most effectively.” But cardio isn’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to burning fat. In fact, Sydney says that strength training will give you the best return on your time investment.
“By that, I mean as you develop lean muscle in your body you are actually increasing your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories per day,” she explains. “Cardio is a very manual calorie burner, meaning your calorie burn quickly slows down after completing your cardio, and physically we are only capable of so much cardio at one time.” This is not to hate on cardio—cardio is great for a lot of things, like heart health, stress relief, and endurance—it’s just time to dispense with the notion that it’s more beneficial for weight loss than strength training. “In the long run, more lean muscle on your body is better for your metabolism and your physical definition, and the only sure way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit consistently.”
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