Exercise MythBusters

Published Wednesday, 24 October 2012
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Out of all of the weird and wonderful fitness myths I hear, these have got to be the top five...

  • Spot reduce fat

Spot reduction is the belief that you can reduce fat from a specific body area only. If only this was true. But unfortunately we can't. Our bodies will change shape during weight loss in any way it chooses, with some areas losing more than others first. So if you only want fat to come off the backs off your arms or off your belly, I'm afraid that only concentrating on training those areas won't make the fat disappear from there any quicker. What you will have to do, is burn a lot of calories by cardio training as well as compound muscle strengthening exercises such as squats, to maximise results.

  • Exercising for long periods at a steady state burns more fat

This myth is still alive and kicking. It is true that you will burn a higher percentage of fat to provide you with energy when your heart rate is at a lower intensity, such as a steady jog. However if you train at a higher intensity, your body will burn a greater amount of calories overall, both during and after your workout. So if you are after fat reduction, you may want to try high intensity interval training (HIIT), by training as hard as you can for certain amounts of time, with rest periods in between, rather than long slow steady cardio training.

  • To get a flat stomach I need to do hundreds of crunches every morning

Nope! Despite popular belief, doing hundreds of crunches won't give you a washboard stomach. In fact, crunches only involve a relatively small range of muscle, so if you want a defined stomach, you need to primarily work on reducing the layer of fat that lies over the muscle. But remember, you can't spot reduce fat, so get training with a mixture of high intensity cardio interval training along with overall muscle strengthening work, to reduce your body fat percentage, so those abs show through. And it's extremely beneficial to dedicate more time to core stability work, rather than just abdominals, to help flatten and strengthen your stomach and improve your overall posture.

  • If I exercise I can eat anything I like and still lose weight and be healthy

Wrong! Exercise is only one part of the jigsaw. It is important that you continually fuel your body with the optimum nutrition. Trying to train on fuel that isn't providing you with the key nutrients needed, will be inefficient and will not be maximising the time you spend training your body. To put it simply, eating the wrong foods can prevent maximum fat reduction and muscle growth. You need to take an holistic approach to ensure safe and effective fat reduction, muscle growth and optimal health.

  • No pain no gain

Jane Fonda has a lot to answer for. Her motivational quotes may have spurred you on to 'feel the burn' in your sexy green lycra one-piece, however this statement isn't exactly true. Although there may be some level of discomfort during or after a training session, due to the muscle fibres slightly tearing, (which allows for stronger growth and development), you should not have pain.

Training to the point of being in severe pain is not beneficial and could actually prevent progression, not to mention increasing the risk of injury. So remember this the next time you finish a workout and can still walk without help - it's ok - it doesn't mean it isn't working just because you don't need help up the stairs!

There are many health and fitness myths out there, so be careful and ensure you know why you are including something in to your fitness regime, before you reach for that green lycra.

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Nichola Jarvis
Nichola Jarvis

Nichola is a sports studies graduate who has lived and breathed fitness for over 12 years.

She started her own fit club called Tribal Fitness to combine her two passions - nature's gym (i.e. the great outdoors) and having FUN when exercising!

Be it her Babes or Pramtastic Bootcamp to help mums with their tums, Nichola knows how to make keeping fit feel fun!

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