Pop quiz: With new fitness and weight-loss crazes popping up all the time, what's the best source for questions related to fitness and the gym? No, it's not Google. Ask a personal trainer.
With so much information in front of us on the internet and on social media, it can be hard to distinguish what's real and what's bogus. Personal trainers hold degrees in fitness-related fields, including exercise science and kinesiology, plus years of experience training clients to reach their fitness goals. Here are five fitness myths busted by a personal trainer.
MYTH #1: You need to be in the 'fat-burning zone' to burn fat.
You might have heard about the 'fat burning zone' and how you need to run for long durations in this zone to burn fat. Though there is truth to this, the same desired outcome can be achieved through a style of training called high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T). It can include a combination of cardio and strength exercises. Benefits from H.I.I.T. workouts involve developing and maintaining muscle mass, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering heart-rate and blood pressure, plus you burn fat and carbohydrates! People will often get bored from doing long, even-paced cardio workouts and are more likely to stop coming to the gym. H.I.I.T. combats boredom on the gym floor, bringing different challenges to each workout. As a result, you're more likely to stick to your programme and make progress.
MYTH #2: Sit-ups will give you abs.
Another common misconception is that a lot of core exercises equal a six-pack. False! The term used for toning-up a specific area is called "spot reduction," but this doesn't help to burn belly fat. You see, when your body loses fat, it sheds fatmore or less evenly throughout your body. Increased core exercises will create stronger abdominal muscles; however, many people won't see results unless their overall body fat percentage is lowered. As the saying goes: "Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym." A well-balanced diet with a mixture of aerobic exercise and weight training will assist in dropping body fat and toning-up. Booking a consultation with a Habit Dietician will provide you with professional advice tailored to your specific goals.
MYTH #3: If I lift weights, I'll look like the Hulk.
Many women who come to me for training state that they don't want to lift weights because they don't want to get bulky or develop big muscles. This misconception is frustrating, and a poor portrayal of what lifting weights actually does. Firstly, women have higher oestrogen levels and lower testosterone levels in their body than men. This difference in hormones makes it a lot harder for females to increase muscle mass. Weight training is a great way to increase your resting metabolism. An increase in lean muscle mass allows your metabolism to work more efficiently, allowing you to continue burning calories even after you've finished your session. Other benefits to weight training include decreased risk of osteoporosis; weight training helps to increase bone density. Further, lifting weights reduces your overall body fat and can be a great way to relieve stress. (Mayo Clinic.)
MYTH #4: No pain, no gain.
"No pain, no gain" is one of those classic quotes that has been used on the sports field and in the gym for many, many years. This quote can be potentially harmful to those who believe in it. While having some DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) a couple of days after a workout is considered normal, pain during a workout isn't always a good thing. A common reason for pain while exercising can include incorrect technique which can lead to injury or pain from a past injury. There is no issue in pushing yourself, you just need to know when discomfort and pain are crossing over. If you push yourself too far and are unable to move for a week after your session, it doesn't benefit your goals or your health. (ucihealth.org)
MYTH #5: Machines are better than free weights
Some people believe that machines in the gym are just better and choose to use them exclusively, instead of free weights. Exercise machines can be incredibly useful pieces of equipment. They are safe because they lower the risk of injuries for beginner gym members, allowing them to learn the proper technique. They are also useful for rehabilitation exercises or isolating muscles, but there are many more benefits for using free weights.
Free weights are versatile. They also simulate real-life lifting situations and promote whole-body stabilisation. Free weights are generally safe when used with proper technique. However, it may take some practice to get used to lifting with free weights, and it's essential to use the correct form. Free weights can be used for unilateral exercises, helping to improve strength in the less dominant side of your body. In turn, this also helps to balance your strength and burns more energy than machine-based exercises.
These are just some of the many bits of information that are out there. If you need any advice or want to review your current training routine is not doing you more harm than good, book an appointment with a Habit Personal Trainer at reception.
Aaron Telfer is a Personal Trainer at Habit Platinum in Wellington.