There are so many contradictory opinions and ‘evidence‘ regarding weight loss, muscle gain and about fitness in general. One expert says this, but your toned friend swears that they get results by doing the exact opposite, then you read a magazine that throws a third theory into the mix. The FACT is, in fitness and exercise there is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’. You can lose weight by running hundreds of miles OR by doing short and sharp hill sprints. You can pack on mass by doing a few reps with bigger weight or more reps with lighter weight. There is no blueprint for every body type to achieve the same goals. It’s about learning, then doing and seeing what works best for YOU through trial and error.
To help you wade through some of the mis-information that’s flying around in many gym locker rooms here is a list of the 10 biggest lies your likely to hear in the gym.
1. ‘You Will Get A 6 Pack By Doing 1000′s Of Crunches A Week!!’
This is a classic for many newcomers who want to get a ripped six pack as soon as possible. They think by just doing sit ups or crunches they can get a rock solid 8 pack in a few weeks, as long as they do ‘enough’ stomach exercises. The truth is the abdominals and obliques (the muscles left and right of the six pack) are a muscle just like all the others on your body. They react the same way and should be trained in a similar way. Weight trained 2 or 3 times a week with controlled, stable movements until some new muscle has been added, then strip away the fat covering them by a combination of good nutrition and cardiovascular exercise. Simple.
2. ‘If Your Not In Pain After A Tough Session, You Need To Try Harder’
If you are not aching after a hard session, this is more down to the fact that your body is used to the routine and thus knows what to expect. It can then become more efficient and only give out as much power required to complete the workout effectively. If this happens you know that your body is adapting well to the stress and that mixing up your routine can help your body and fitness reach that next level.
3. ‘All Injuries Happen When Your Form Is Bad’
It would be brilliant if this one was true, then all you would have to do to avoid injury is use perfect form on all exercises and there would never be any problems. Using bad form is definitely one way to increase your chances of strain and injury but a more common reason is over use and general wear of joints and muscles which can eventually degrade to a point where injury is inevitable. This is why a split routine is used by many weightlifters as it means muscle groups have a chance to fully recover before being worked again.
4. ‘You Won’t Build Muscle If Your Not On A Protein Powder Supplement’
I think this one was probably started by the supplement companies. While there is nothing wrong with using powdered supplements (in fact there are many benefits) there is nothing to suggest you can’t make exactly the same gains, getting protein from unprocessed, natural, whole sources. They are called ‘supplements’ for a reason, as they are meant to supplement your diet, which should consist of high quality proteins like you can get from meat, chicken, fish, eggs and nuts. Plenty to help you achieve your bulking up goals.
5. ‘Stay In The ‘Fat Burning Zone’ To Lose Weight’
While it is true that you will lose weight by staying in the ‘fat burning’ zone, this is usually the kind of heart rate that will lead you to spending hours on the treadmill or bicycle. It can be much more beneficial to do what people now call ‘High Intensity Interval Training‘ or HIIT, which basically means short, sharp bursts of cardio where you are constantly changing the intensity and speed of the movement. Doing this can help you burn fat more efficiently and improve your cardiovascular strength in a shorter time period.
6. ‘If Your New To The Gym, Stick To The Machines First’
This can be a tempting idea for many new gym goers, especially for women and men who aren’t throwing around 300lbs. The gym (especially the free weight area) can be an intimidating place, but everyone there is out to change their bodies for the better and will be focused on themselves rather than what you are doing. Lifting weights from the start helps train the smaller stabilizing muscles at the same time as the bigger muscles so they grow together and help prevent injury and problems further down the line. It can be argued the BEST time to lifts weight is when you are first starting out.
7. ‘Only Do Long Distance Runs When You’re Training For A Marathon’
It’s important when training for a marathon to incorporate a wide range of different training methods. Long distance running is obviously very important, but so is fast, sharp bursts of running to help improve your overall fitness and also weight training so your muscles will be used to the wear and tear of running the streets for hours on end.
8. ‘Dont Weight Lift If You Play Sports, You’ll Tighten Up And Lose Agility’
Unless your planning on gaining 100lbs then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Lifting weights can give you extra strength, power and explosiveness, all of which are vitally important for almost all sports (especially physical, contact sports like football, basketball, rugby etc.) Weights also help your body’s composition meaning you will carry more muscle, plus it can help with agility, core strength and balance. What athlete doesn’t want more of these things?
9. ‘If Women Lift Weights They’ll Take On A ‘Manly’ Appearance’
It seems many women think that if they even lay their hands on a dumbbell they’ll turn into a 200lb hulk looking monster but females generally don’t have the testosterone levels to put on a ‘substantial’ amount of muscle. Obviously there are exceptions in the case of professional female bodybuilders, however the average female gym-goer will benefit greatly from weight training, in that they will lose weight faster, tone up and gain strength. So don’t be afraid to head for that squat rack.
10. ‘Lifting Light Weight For More Reps Will ‘Tone’ My Muscles’
‘Tone’ has more to do with your diet than the amount of reps you are doing. This vascular look that most people are looking for is down to a calorific deficit, cardio and having enough muscle mass to look impressive at a lower body fat. It has actually been discovered that lifting heavier weights for lower reps will actually burn fat faster and increase your muscle mass more than lifting lighter weights for fewer reps.