Tuesday, 3 April 2012

True or False?.. 10 Gym Myths

April Fools Day may have passed, but that still doesn't seem to stop people passing on joke information in the gym and even in fitness literature!

So... Welcome to "True or False" the gym version. I'll give you a quick clue - the answer to each section is "False". That's right, we're busting gym myths here people! here's 10...

1) "I don't want to lift heavy weights as I'll get bulky" - FALSE
Particularly if you're female, lifting heavy weights will not automatically make you "bulky". In fact, the impact that heavy lifting can have on your heart rate mean that it's a great method for improving cardio strength and burning body fat. Try two "heavy lifts" (5 rep max) as a superset and see what I mean. Watch your heart go nuts!

2) "I don't need to lift weights cos.." (who cares what the rest of the sentence is) - FALSE
EVERYONE should perform resistance work. Usual justification for not lifting weights include, "I don't want to get any bigger." "I'm already toned/in good shape" etc. Aside from vanity purposes, resistance work can improve posture, bone density, motor programing, joint stability and lessen the chance of injury. Pretty useful all round.

3) (Probably from the mouth of a footballer/soccer player if you're American) "I'm better being small and light - I'm built for speed!" - FALSE
Dwayne Chambers, Michael Johnson, Linford Christie... some of the fastest men to have ever lived. look at them... Skinny does not equal quick! Enough said! NEXT!

4) "I need to do cardio to lose some fat, then I'll build muscle after" - FALSE
Wrong for many reasons. Steady duration cardio is the slowest way to burn body fat; resistance work will improve your metabolic rate and allow you to burn more calories all day, every day. Why not incorporate resistance work as part of your training and speed up your metabolism, improve your cardio abilities and maintain a strong physique all at the same time? Weight loss through cardio alone will leave you looking skinny-fat. Bad look!

5) "This sweat suit is brilliant for helping me lose weight" - FALSE
You're dehydrated, not thinner! Some sports require athletes to make a particular weight (boxing, MMA etc) these athletes will use sweat suits in order to make a certain weight for a short period of time. Once they step off the scales they'll immediately consume fluids after achieving their desired weight and quickly gain an easy 14lbs or more. Worse still, a 2% drop in hydration can lead to 10% drop in performance - imagine what this sweat suit is doing to the quality of your workout! Worse STILL, poor hydration is often a root cause of a slowed metabolism and increased eating/calorie intake. So that sweat suit has made your training worse, your metabolism slower and made you eat more - nice one!

6) "I'm too heavy to do pull ups" - FALSE
You're to weak to do pull ups!

7) "My legs have always been pretty big, so I don't need to work on them" - FALSE
Legs are an integral part of all exercise regimes. Whether you're trying to cut some body fat, improve strength or just work on your general fitness levels, a stronger lower body and some resistance work on your legs will help ALL of these goals.

8) "I'm pretty fit, I can run 'X' distance" - FALSE
Fitness is relative. What you mean is, you're good at long distance running - a very specific skill. Intervene your long distance running with some higher intensity intervals or resistance work and you're likely to feel like a gym "newby" again. It's very difficult to have a "rounded fitness" where you're good at everything. And, as @TommyFatFingers likes to say: "You can only sit on one horse!" BUT... it's important to add variety to your training. Don't just do what you're good at. In fact, find what you're worst at and do that the most. Don't take the comfortable/familiar option. Don't be a one trick pony

9) "I'm lucky I can eat what I want - I have a fast metabolism" - FALSE
The second part may be correct, but this doesn't mean you can "eat whatever you want". Heavily processed, heavily saturated and non-"clean" foods are limiting your potential. Potential for exercise output, energy levels and gains experienced from exercising. You may appear "in good shape" but you're not all that you can be. Don't buy a Ferrari, fill it with olive oil and be happy that it still drives

10) "The longer I train the better" - FALSE
LOADS of people seem to feel that a long session = a good one. Not true! I've heard many times young boys boasting in the gym "I've been in here 2 .5 hours bruv!" Well done! Up the intensity, lessen the chit-chat, rest time (when not focusing on low rep/strength work) and reap the benefits. Sessions lasting over 70 minutes or so will seriously compromise your results. It's widely accepted that after an hour of intense exercise muscle catabolism begins - bad! Muscle growth slows and as a result metabolism slows too - lose, lose.

There are lots of myths and false information that you hear branded around gyms. Worse still, there can be a lot published online and on the shelves in highstreet stores. It can be difficult to filter out the nonsense from the science. But remember just that; exercising is a science so if someone gives you information and can't explain the science behind it then research it further. Be wary, common sense doesn't always apply when exercise and diet is concerned. It's not always easy to spot a false information... sorry!

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