The fitness industry is full of misconceptions and it can be hard to decipher what is true and what is not. It is always best to consult with a qualified fitness professional if you are unsure. Knowing the difference between fact and fiction will keep you healthy, injury-free and well on your way to achieving your fitness goals.
‘Weight lifting makes women bulky’
Women will not ‘bulk up’ massively from lifting weights unless they are lifting very regularly, have extreme genetics or are doping (often a combination!). Weight training will increase bone strength and muscle mass and women will achieve more toned leaned muscle rather than ‘bulk’. This is because women have far less testosterone than men.
‘Sit-ups are the best way to get six-pack abs’
Sit ups will strengthen and hypertrophy your abdominal muscles, but if they’re beneath a good layer of fat, you won’t see them! When losing weight, fat is lost gradually all over the body (you can’t ‘spot reduce; see below). Overall weight needs to be lost through a calorie deficit and exercise. Doing lots of sit ups won’t just reduce the fat around your middle.
‘You can spot reduce fat’
Your genetics and sex will determine where your body stores fat and everyone’s slightly different. When you’re training certain body parts, this will help burn calories (which indirectly affects the process of losing weight) and build muscle, they don’t affect the fat cells in the target part of the body.
‘Exercise beats a bad diet’
You can’t out-exercise a crappy diet, it’s common for people to overestimate the amount of calories burnt through exercise. Being more mindful about your diet goes hand in hand with exercise to achieve weight loss results. For example if a moderately intensive workout burns 300-400 calories in about an hour. If you decide to eat a couple of donuts after the exercise, in few minutes, you will consume 720 calories.
‘To burn fat you have to exercise for 20 minutes’
You can burn fat in 10 minutes if you work out hard enough! High-intensity interval training can work wonders—after an intense workout, your body needs to take in oxygen at a higher rate to help it return to its natural resting state. This process requires the body to work harder, burning more calories in the process.
‘You will burn more fat if you exercise longer at a lower intensity’
The faster you walk, swim or bike, the more you increase your heart rate, which results in more calories being burned. The other advantage to higher intensity cardio is that the “after-burn’’ after a high intensity workout, you can burn calories for hours after your workout. Lower-intensity exercise can of course help weight loss, you just have to do it longer (a larger proportion of the calories burnt come from fat in this situation). But it’s not necessarily a better way to lose weight than more intense workouts.
‘Running Is Bad For Your Knees’
Many people think running damages your knee. However, the largest study of runners ever completed, concluded that that running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis, even in seasoned runner. Runners even had half the incidence of knee osteoarthritis compared to walkers.
Another study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that, far from increasing the risk of joint problems, running could protect against osteoarthritis by keeping joints and connective tissue strong, mobile and topped up with nutrients.
‘I’m too old to build muscle tone’
While studies do show that ageing may cause muscle loss, this is generally because they stop exercising – not because they are old. If you train correctly (if you’re unsure, see a qualified personal trainer) you will also gain muscle mass. This is a common misconception in the fitness industry. You’re never too old to achieve muscle growth (although progress is a bit slower as you get older).
Proper nutrition and exercise does not only guarantee a loss in weight, but it also affects every aspect of your life- mood, sleep, and even your appearance.