It’s time to decipher fact from fiction and clear up some misconceptions about exercise and weight loss. Here Gideon Remfry, wellness director at KX, debunks five common fitness myths…
Fitness myths debunked
1. Lifting weights makes women bulky
Women often believe that weightlifting will make them bulky. However, if we start with basic physiology, it is harder for women to gain muscle as they produce less of the muscle-building hormones like testosterone. With that said women have the ability to get excellent strength, performance and aesthetic results from weightlifting without creating bulk (or muscle size).
If we flip the argument, regular weight lifting actually creates a far more efficient fat-burning system for women’s bodies. This is because lean muscle uses more energy, both when moving around and at rest. Weightlifting benefits include increased fat burning, metabolism, strength endurance, posture, bone health and blood sugar management. It makes you wonder why it was ever demonised! Top Tip: it is ideal to a) commit to a weightlifting program for at least 3 months and b) to assess the results by testing your body composition every 4 weeks.
2. Muscle turns to fat when you stop working out
It is often thought that muscle turns to fat when you don’t consistently work out. However, fat and muscle are two different tissues and they cannot transform or change into each other. So what may be happening you ask? Remember I mentioned earlier that muscle is highly efficient at increasing your metabolism and your potential to burn more calories, even at rest? Well, if you stop training muscle, you will reduce muscle and all these potential benefits. The other factor to consider is when you wish to increase muscle, you would also have to increase calories (carbs, protein and fats) to support this process. If you then stop resistance training but keep consuming the same calories, you are going to gain weight and body fat because you are not burning as much fuel in the workouts.
3. Muscle soreness is the sign of a good workout
It is often thought that if you have muscle soreness this is a result of a good workout. However, only mild muscle soreness can indicate a good workout. Too much stress overloads the body to a point where we cannot adapt. Most muscle pain or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is created in the lowering part of various lifts (known as the eccentric phase). This is when the muscle is under load while also being stretched – picture the lowering part of a barbell squat or landing from a jump. The more eccentric exercises you include in your workout, the more muscle pain is likely.
4. Crunches will give you abs
All of the crunches and ab workouts in the world won’t give you abs if they are hidden beneath a layer of body fat. It is a bit like having beautiful new windows fitted, but you keep the curtains drawn so no-one can see them! To reduce body fat and reveal your abs you have to follow three principles:
1. Address your diet first because as the saying goes “abs are made in the kitchen”. As an overview, keep protein and healthy food plentiful along with a moderate calorie deficit.
2. Increase all daily movement. Science shows that leaner people simply move more every day.
3. Introduce regular resistance training and include a variety of ab and core exercises.
5. You can spot reduce fat
Unfortunately, we can’t spot reduce body fat. Although there have been some studies looking at if resistance training spot reducing body fat, they are inconclusive, and as such we believe that fat comes off in layers. When we talk about body fat, we are generally referring to the outer layer of fat know as sub-cutaneous fat. However, there are multiple types of fat including visceral fat which sits around our internal vital organs. Internal (visceral) fat tends to reduce fastest with exercise followed by the outer sub-cutaneous layer.
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