Beef Up Your Brain: Top 5 Workout Myths & Facts

By Matt Alesevich | February 11, 2014


Like “eating right,” “working out right” is a phrase subject to a myriad of contradicting claims that blur the line between fact and opinion; universal truths and case-by-case exceptions —and rightfully so—like no two human bodies are identical, neither are the goals of two routines

Mixed in with the myriad of muscle-building misconceptions, there are, however, unarguable universal truths that apply to every body on every routine. To help set the record straight on commonly disputed workout words of wisdom, let’s go through some oft-overheard “gym-isms” and decipher fact from myth once and for all.

MYTH: Ab crunches will help you lose that stomach.

If you’ve got layers of body fat covering up your abdominal muscles, using your precious exercise time to target your abs as opposed to burning fat with cardio is a prime example of putting the cart before the horse. Like being unable to choose which muscles benefit from the protein you intake, you have no control over which specific parts of your body burn fat. Exercises like running and biking will help decrease your overall body fat content, and yes this includes the area around your midsection.

MYTH: If you’re not in pain, you’re not working hard enough.

No pain no gain, right? Well, sorta. While it’s important to push your limits and feel some strain in your body while exercising, taking “no pain no gain” to the extreme could do more harm than good. There’s a big difference between strain and pain; soreness and sharpness, and if you’re in pain doing an exercise, chances are you’re doing it wrong. Working out harder is no match for working our smarter.

FACT: Exercise can lessen the effects of depression.

When you work out, your brain releases endorphins—pleasure chemicals that reduce your body’s perception of pain and trigger feelings of energizing positivity and wellbeing. Additionally, an increase in self-esteem and a more positive perception of your body accompany being active and in shape. One University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center study even found that just 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week reduced symptoms of depression by a whopping 50% after only four months.

FACT: Exercise increases your energy and reduces fatigue.

Next time you’re looking for a pick-me-up, try replacing that cup of coffee with a workout or, as we like to say, ditching Joe for gym. While you might think that working out decreases your energy levels, exercising actually circulates your blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues, helping them produce energy. When your heart rate goes up, more blood and oxygen is brought to your brain—making you more alert and focused.

MYTH: If you want to get into top shape, you need a gym membership.

Knowing how little time Mudder Nation has for excuses, we won’t insult you by picking apart this mega myth. What we will shine some light on, however, is how Heisman Trophy-winner, 13-year NFL running back and current MMA fighter Herschel Walker trained his entire life. Walker’s daily routine since high school? 750 to 1,500 pushups, 3,000 sit ups, 1,500 pull-ups, 1,000 dips and 1,000 squats. The College Football Hall of Fame inductee says, “My parents didn’t have a lot of money. My high school didn’t have a lot of money, but I didn’t use that as an excuse.”