One of the biggest problems with the world of fitness is all the myths that surround it. For years people have been regurgitating the bit of training advice they overheard someone in the gym talking about. Here we will discuss and dispel the 10 most popular of these fitness myths.
10. To Lose Fat From A Specific Part Of Your Body, You Must Exercise That Part More
This fitness myth has been going around for years and years. It basically tells you that to drop fat off one particular area of your body, you must work that body part more. So according to the myth, if you want to reduce the fat from your bum, you should do exercises that target your Glutes Want to lose fat from your thighs, then do more leg exercises. Unfortunately though, this simply is not true. It’s been proven time and time again in many scientific studies that spot reduction of fat in the human body just does not happen. When your body burns fat, it burns it from all over at the same time. Now, everyone is different and some will naturally lose more fat from their arms than anywhere else, others will lose it from their legs etc, etc, but this isn’t something that we can control. This is determined by genetics and for all intention purposes you can assume that when burning fat, your body will burn it from all over.
9. Lifting Heavy Weights Will Turn You Into A Bodybuilder
This fitness myth is quite a popular one among women. Most people are scared of doing too much weight lifting due to the fear that they will become a HUGE bodybuilder, women in particular seem scared they’ll turn into something that resembles men. This myth is no doubt kept alive by the pro bodybuilding scene, but you have to keep in mind that the men and women of the pro bodybuilding scene are paid vast amounts of money to train and compete. Given the effort that these people put into their fitness regimes or careers for a better word, it’s no wonder that to some they look freakish and off putting to the point of making people scared of picking up a dumbbell. But there’s no need to fear. The pro bodybuilders that you see in magazines and on stage train very, very, very hard. They dedicate their lives to their sport. They eat food every 2-3 hours and spend a good couple of hours in the gym per day. Plus on top of that, they take a large amount of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids and growth hormones as it is their business to look as big as possible and unless you’re putting that much effort into your fitness, you simply will not get that big. Another way to look at it is like this: If it was that easy to turn into one of these massive bodybuilders, then there would be a lot more people doing it!
Annie Thorisdottir (CrossFit Games 2011 Winner) proving that women who lift weights won’t turn into muscle monsters!
8. BMI Is The Best Way To Measure Health, Fitness & Obesity
BMI (Body Mass Index) is a measure which takes into account a person’s weight and height to make up total body fat in adults. A number is then given (BMI), and this number determines whether or not the individual is at a healthy weight by using a height to weight ratio scale. For example, someone with a BMI of 26 to 27 is about 20 percent overweight, which is normally believed to carry some health risks. A BMI of 30 and higher is considered obese. The problem with this method of measuring health is that it doesn’t take into account lean tissue mass such as muscle. Someone with a higher muscle mass than the average person for their height category would be gauged as overweight using the BMI scale. This is true for the opposite as well such as marathon runners, who are generally very lean, and as such will often show up as being underweight. The reason for this is that muscle tissue is denser that fat and as such weighs more when compared in the same volume. For example a pint glass filled to the top with muscle tissue will weigh more than the same filled with fat.
The fact of the matter is that although for average people the BMI can be effective, when it comes to athletes and people who workout a lot and partake in a fitness regime, it can produce some inaccurate results. A great example of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his prime, back when bodybuilders were very fit and healthy, he stood at 6’2″ and at a weight of 235lbs. Using the BMI we can work out that he has a Body Mass Index of 30, which puts him at the Obese level! Does he look obese in the picture below? Now of course this is an extreme example, however the point is still the same.
Arnold Schwarzenegger with a BMI of 30 and sitting in the obese category!
7. Eating Late At Night Makes You Fat
This is a popular myth among dieters. The theory is that if you eat a meal late at night/just before bed your body will store that meal as fat. The reasoning behind this theory is because when you’re asleep you don’t use many calories, therefore any calories you ingest before sleep won’t be used for anything and as such will be stored as fat. It sounds logical right?! Well despite it sounding logical, it isn’t. The reason is that our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves, and this includes times when you’re sleeping. As long as you you eat the right amount of your daily requirement, in terms of calories, then it won’t cause you to get fat by eating late at night. In fact some studies have shown that eating a high protein, medium fat meal just before bed can be beneficial to athletes and those that follow a fitness regime. The reason for this is that for the 8 hours you’re asleep your body is not receiving any nutrients to help repair muscle tissue. A high protein, medium fat, small meal would allow your body to slowly digest the protein keeping your muscles fed for longer during your sleep (fat slows down the digestion of protein). A testament to this is professional bodybuilders and their requirement to diet like no other athlete. They’re role in fitness is to look as big and lean as possible and yet many eat late at night, some even get up in the middle of the night to have a meal!
The key thing to remember when dieting is to not go over your daily calorific needs. To calculate your daily calorific needs check out my article on the Harris Benedict Equation!
6. Fat Makes You Fat
According to many, all types of fat are bad for you, and the sole reason why people get fat. Many healthy foods are advertised as LOW FAT and there’s just no need for it. The harsh reality is that it’s not fat that makes you fat, but an excessive amount of calories in your diet. You can still get fat eating just grilled chicken and vegetables, if you eat more than your body requires. The only type of fat that is recommended to stay away from is man made Trans Fat. Apart from that all other forms of fat are good in the right doses.For example saturated fat (from things like Beef) has been shown to be good for your liver function and stroke prevention. Diet’s such as the Paleo diet have shown that low carbohydrate, high fat and high protein diets can be very effective at fat loss and increasing health and fitness. A top tip, don’t fear fat!!
5. You Need To Train For 1 Hour To Get Any Benefits
This one has probably been around since the dawn of weightlifting and fitness. People seem to think that unless you train for 1 hour, then it’s not a workout. This is just plain wrong. There have been numerous studies and research carried out over the past 10 years that show that you can in fact get a very good workout from a very short intense period. Training methods like H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) rely on short intense bursts of energy followed by periods of rest to complete the workout, and have been shown to be very effective at burning fat and increasing cardiovascular fitness.
4. Being In A Lot Of Pain After A Workout Is A Good Sign
Muscle soreness after a workout is a normal thing, but not to the extent that some believe. Phrases such as “No Pain, No Gain” are popular among fitness circles but some take this belief too far. Not being able to bend your arm for a week after a biceps workout, or walking like a chimpanzee for a week after a leg workout are a probable sign that you’ve over done it. As previously said, muscle soreness at times will happen, but it shouldn’t be excruciating pain, and should only last a few days, if at all. This is also a common myth shared by people who are against the H.I.I.T training styles as, although this type of training can leave you in a heap on the floor, you rarely push your body beyond it’s physical limits in terms of strength.
3. Supplements Are A Waste Of Money And Will Make You Either Fat Or Huge
This one that is shared by those who don’t understand what supplements are there for (the hint is in the name!). Many seem to think that supplements are only there for bodybuilders or professional athletes. Wrong. Supplements are just what they say they are. They are there to supplement your diet. Used the right way they will not make you fat but can be a great tool for someone who has a busy life and doesn’t have the time to eat real food all the time. Of course if you add a supplement to your current daily intake of food, and that supplement then takes you over your daily calorific requirements then yes you will put fat on, but this is the same for any food. As for the myth of them making you huge, well yes, partly true, but only if you train very hard, eat the right food and do so over a few years. Remember bodybuilders didn’t turn into massive hulks of men/women over night. It takes years and years of dedication and good diet to get a massive physique. It will not happen from just adding in some supplements to your diet.
Don’t fear supplements. Adding a protein supplement, multivitamin, fat supplements such as fish oil or even a whole meal replacement supplement can greatly improve your diet. Of course whole, natural foods are definitely better, but don’t be afraid to utilise supplements to fit in with your diet and make life easier.
Supplements can be a great tool for a busy person to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they require.
2. 3 Sets Of 10 Reps Is The Best Way To Build Muscle
This is another one that has probably almost been around since the dawn of fitness, along with the “if I do his workout, I’ll look like him” mentality. The fact of the matter is that while 3 sets of 10 may be ideal for some, it is not ideal for everyone. You see, every person is different, everyone’s body’s react differently to different types of training. For some 3 set’s of 10 maybe the perfect ratio, for other’s it just won’t work nearly as well. That is why you’ll see different fitness experts advocating different types of training protocols. As said, everyone is different, so just because a specific workout has worked very well for one individual, doesn’t mean that same workout will also work for you.
1. To Get A Flat Stomach Do Lot’s and Lot’s of Sit-ups
This has got to be the most popular myth of all. So many times you hear of new revolutionary products that help you to tone and slim down your waist. Phrases like “Perform this exercise just three times a week and see your fat stomach disappear and replaced with washboard abs” don’t do any favours to dispel this fitness myth, and it is simply just not true. In fact, performing 100’s of sit-ups can actually increase your waist size. Sounds wrong I know, but here’s why. You’re abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle on your body. They grow just the same as your biceps on your arm, or your quadriceps on your legs do. And what do you do if you want to increase your biceps size? Yep, you guessed it, you train them. It’s the same with the abdominal region. Training them can, and will likely, increase the size of those muscles which can cause your waist line to actually increase. The best way to see those wash board abs is through a clean and healthy diet, and reducing your body fat to a low enough level. Of course that’s not to say that you should negate stomach exercises all together, on the contrary, a solid body core is a must for a fit individual. Just don’t expect stomach exercises alone to reduce that belly!
Any more myths or common statements that you hear that you’d like answers to? Comment and ask away!!