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A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Updated: Feb 14

I recently came across this infographic -

Anyone in the health and fitness industry who confidently asserts that something is ‘false’ or ‘fact’ is either ignorant or omniscient. The latter is highly unlikely so I’m going with the former. Bold assertions only serve to confuse people and prevent them from understanding the complexity and nuances of health and fitness.

This looks like it has been written by someone who weight trains but doesn’t have much experience with aerobic training. Weight training is enjoyable and very important component of any fitness program but so is aerobic training and I think that this infographic is misleading.

In my opinion, heart rate monitors are an excellent way of monitoring aerobic intensity in conjunction with a common sense ‘perceived exertion’ approach. If you are a recreational road cyclist for example, I would highly recommend using a heart rate monitor to help train in appropriate ‘zones’. Power meters are definitely superior, but we can’t all afford them. If some people prefer to monitor intensity by ‘feel’, good for them! Other people, like me, get great benefits from using heart rate monitors.

Low intensity exercise does burn more fat as a proportion of the metabolised fuel sources. Higher intensity exercise will more total fat in a given time frame. Both styles of training are appropriate for burning fat and I personally think both have a role in weight loss strategies. Let’s not discount slow and steady training just because HIIT is in vogue!

The human body is more than capable of training on an empty stomach for long periods of time. Endurance athletes often deliberately train in the morning to train their bodies to metabolise fat efficiently as a source of fuel. Most people struggle to train for long periods on an empty stomach because they aren’t used to it, not because it isn’t possible. There was a great presentation at FILEX this year by a very well-qualified fitness professional who referenced studies that have indicated that slow and steady aerobic work in the morning on an empty stomach is great for stripping fat whilst maintaining muscle mass.

Some health and fitness professionals should take a more humble and open approach to their learning. None of us know everything and so we should be very careful about using words like ‘false’ and ‘fact’.

“The more you know, the more you know you don't know.” Aristotle.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.” Alexander Pope.

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