We have everything at our fingertips.
The information available to us from books, magazines and TV, is just astounding. There is so much information out there, especially on the internet.
The thing is a lot of the things on the internet come from people’s educated or not so educated opinion. For every article which says something is positive, I will bet you there are plenty which will say the opposite, much of this is down to the fact its just a matter of opinion.
Over time some of these opinions are vindicated and there appears to be a strong body of evidence to prove something. Conversely some things are not proved correct over time.
That’s when some of these good initial opinions are proved to have no substance and become mythical.
Day in day out I see people training the wrong way and having false misconceptions about how to exercise.
A lot of this can be down to:
- The internet
- The Health Authority
- What someone else is doing
There are some very popular myths in the exercise world that many people have heard and will take it as gospel.
These things aren’t necessarily completely wrong or bad for you but they can be misleading, (the majority of the fitness industry is misleading if you ask me), and there is definitely a better way of doing things.
So today I am going to expose 5 exercise myths and to help you give you 5 tips which will really help you reach your fitness goals.
1. Continuous Training is Best for Fat Loss – This shouldn’t even still be a discussion yet the majority of people, aiming for FAT LOSS, stick to long, continuous cardio training over high intensity interval training. (The best way to lose fat as we all know 😉 is through your food).
Certain period people believe that they just need to sit or stand on a machine and keep going for this period of time. Just by upping the intensity and trying different training techniques you can get your workout done in a fraction of the time and get much better results. Slow cardio IS still good for STRESS RELIEF.
Solution: For best FAT LOSS results vary your training stimulus. Mix the speed at which you do your cardio to improve results.
2. The Fat Burning Zone – Probably the longest standing myth which needs to be busted. This is another reason why people choose to do long steady continuous cardio training.
People aim to get their heart rate between 60-70 % of maximum and they aim for this heart rate as it is the ‘fat burning zone’, where the body is most efficient at burning fat, WHILST YOU EXERCISE.
The second you step off your machine after a long cardio session you stop burning as many calories.
In contrast, when you step (sometimes crawl) off your machine after an interval session(intervals are just 10-60 second “bursts” of higher effort) you would have burned more energy during the session and you continue to burn more energy for the next 24-48 hours, due to the massive metabolic boost the workout has given you.
This effect is called excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or “After Burn”.
Solution: For best fat loss increase the intensity of your exercise as your body and fitness improves to induce more AFTER BURN. Please note high intensity training is not suitable for beginners.
3. Weight Training Makes You Bigger – Probably the top myth for females.
The top excuse from women is they don’t want to get big muscles. This frustrates me as they are missing out on so much.
You will not be able to get a complete all round great physique if you don’t lift weights – that goes for males and females.
The benefits of heavy weight training are massive, and similar to high intensity training you continue to burn calories long after a weights session is finished.
Females don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to build muscle. Regular strength training can be very beneficial to females; it will dramatically improve their body shape, slow down the onset of aging and make their day to day tasks a lot easier due to the increase in strength.
Warning if you eat poorly and lift heavy weights – in the long term – you may well put on some bulk. Why? because insulin (released by eating too much carbohydrate) is a GROWTH hormone. For example, if I am trying to put on muscle, which I often am, I will eat more carbohydrate and fat in my diet, whilst training with heavy weights, making sure I induce muscle soreness, this will mean I will grow bigger.
Solution: Women – Lift heavy weights and eat clean. Do squats, shoulder press and pull downs with heavy weights, 3 sets of 10 reps is fine. Please note that heavy weights are not suitable for beginners. Please get help in the first few months until you feel more confident.
4. Spot Reduction – Many people still believe that the best way to get a flatter tummy would be to do sit ups and to get less fat on your bum, do more squats.
This is called spot reduction and has been proven to be impossible.
I always use this example – Research has shown that a professional, right handed tennis player, does not have any less fat on their right arm than their left, even though they work it a lot more than the left. The muscles on the right would be bigger, more toned and stronger but the fat levels would be the same.
In order to reduce abdominal fat or any other troublesome area (via exercise strategies) you should aim to do whole body exercises not small specific ones. For example I would do a lat pull down or a pull up and I would NEVER do a bicep curl, as they are a waste of time in my opinion.
Think of how many muscles you use in a pull up compared to a bicep curl.
Other examples of “big multi-joint movements” – squats – squat and shoulder press – burpees – star jumps – jumping jacks.
Solution: Train your whole body and use big movements. Don’t try to sculpt little bits such as your bum, tummy or arms with small isolated movements unless you are a body builder or know what you are doing.
5. Do enough Exercise You Can Eat What You Want – Some people like to believe this one. I see so many people ‘treating’ themselves to rubbish food as a reward for exercising.
It seems like its five days in the gym from Monday to Friday, accompanied by clean eating and then… party time.
Come Friday night – the flood gates open – people will eat what they want, for the whole or part of the weekend.
This book (and its cover) looks funny (by Steve Graham, available on amazon!), but it makes the point 😉
Your nutritional habits can account for about 75% of your results. There is no getting away from this, sorry. If you eat poorly you will never be able to get anywhere near to the body that you desire.
I used to have a treat day(cheat day) myself, it was an all out binge, from a cooked breakfast in the morning to a couple of Gregg’s pasties for lunch and a dominos pizza for tea, and I would still be eating chocolate just before bed. Looking back it was ridiculous.
Solution: If you are trying to lose weight eat one or two treat meals per week maximum, (6-8 units of alcohol counts as two treats in my book).
Not sure if you noticed, but a running theme throughout these five myths is that the emphasis has been incorrectly placed on exercise as being the stimulus to get you what you want.
I hear so often people say that a certain exercise can do this, and exercise can do that, I agree exercise is an essential component…BUT exercise is not the magic bullet everyone is looking for.
Remember this point – nutrition plays a MAJOR role in shaping your body and exercise plays a MINOR role, I would place about 75% of the time working on NUTRITION and only 25% of your time on exercise strategies.
I enjoyed writing this article and I really hope that it can help a few of you out.