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Tag Archives: exercise myths

  • Three Common Exercise Myths

    There are many myths floating around the health and fitness industry. If you've been following this blog this year, you will realise how many references to exercise myths I have published - everything from spot reduction to high repetition crunches to lose belly fat.

    So let's discuss three more common exercise myths that you may or may not be aware of.

    Exercise Myth #1: Weight loss during a workout is primarily fat loss

    Have you ever weighed your body prior to and after a strenuous workout? If you have, you may have noticed a significant body mass decrease. You may lose 1kg in the space of one hour. It is important to note that the vast majority of this weight loss is not fat, but rather fluids.

    This brings me to a good tip when focusing on your level of hydration. If you lose weight after a workout, this will most likely mean that your hydration levels have decreased. It is therefore important to drink more during your workout to ensure that your hydration remains at a healthy level.

    Conversely, if your weight increases after a workout, you are probably drinking too much.

    Exercise Myth #2: Training for a "pump" necessarily maximises muscle development

    A pump is when muscles take up blood to enlarge the total muscle volume. If you are performing higher repetitions, you may notice more of a "pump" than when training at lower repetitions. Following your workout, the "pump" will diminish - typically 20 to 30 minutes after completion.

    When you train for an increased blood supply to a muscle, you are not necessarily training for maximum muscle growth. The enlargement of the muscle is due to the uptake of blood, not:

    1. Because the muscle is growing
    2. Because the muscle is being worked in a way that is necessarily conductive of muscle growth

    You can actually get quite a good pump performing cardiovascular work.

    It may look great in the mirror, but keep in mind that a pump should not be the focus of your training if you are training for muscle development.

    Exercise Myth #3: There is one approach training that is the most effective method

    It is really common to hear someone in the health and fitness industry suggest that by following a specific set of training protocols, you will obtain maximum results for your goals. In other words, a "one-size-fits-all" approach to weight loss or muscle gain.

    Due to the variance between individuals, this is definitely not the case. Individuals respond differently to varying training approaches. There is no single study out there that has been accepted to be "the one and only way to train". Ironically, it is not uncommon for many naive gym attendees to approach other members and preach a particular way of training is "the only way to train".

    This is exactly why the personal training industry is flourishing - because optimal results require individualised attention.

  • Fitness & Exercise Blanket Statement Myths

    A short post this evening to deal with some common fitness and exercise "blanket statement" myths.

    There are many misunderstandings floating around in the health and fitness industry. Many of these come about as a result of an assumption that just because something is true in one particular circumstance, it is therefore true in all other circumstances. Because the human body is so complex, this often leads to old wives tales that are completely misunderstood.

    So, here are some common myths in this industry and a brief explanation on each:

    All sugar is bad

    Why is all sugar bad? Well, most likely because that's the general consencus going around the industry. Often this assumption is made because sugar is associated with a high glycemic index, resulting in a sudden "rush" of carbohydrate being absorbed. But this could not be farther from the truth! Many natural sources of sugar, particularly from fruits, have a low glycemic index! In fact, an apple which is full of sugar has a much lower GI than a potato filled with complex carbohydrates.

    Of course, your diet should not be overly high in sugar. But, to avoid sugar at all costs could cause an unhealthy imbalance.

    All High GI Food is Bad

    High GI foods actually have an important role in health and fitness. Following a very intense workout, a sudden surge of carbohydrate is required to facilitate recovery. Unless you ingest large amounts of a low GI food, it will be very ineffective at providing a high influx of carbohydrate needed post-workout.

    The Fitball is Useless for Muscle and Core Development

    I know I'm going to cop some heat from the bodybuilding community, but a fitball (or Swiss ball) certainly has it's place for many applications. The unstable nature of this ball creates a great environment for persons seeking to increase the awareness of their "core" muscles. It is such a versatile piece of equipment too, as you can use it to work practically all muscle groups!

    Whilst the fitball, in my opinion, isn't the most appropriate piece of "staple" equipment in a bodybuilding regime, it does have it's very effective uses. I think I'll elaborate on this more in later posts.

    Weight Training Builds Muscle Only, Cardio Burns Fat Only

    This has absolutely no scientific backing, but plagues the industry. Resistance training can have some very profound benefits for fat loss - in fact, it is far more effective to perform a combination of cardio and weight training for weight loss, than cardio in isolation.

    Meanwhile, cardio can actually enhance your muscle development results. You may be interested in reading an article I wrote, "Cardio & Bodybuilding - Good for Muscle Growth?"

  • Top Five Exercise Myths

    Let's discuss five exercise myths. These five exercise myths have got to be the most common questions I receive from clients, visitors and friends. So, why not make a list!

    Exercise Myth #1: You can focus on losing fat from a specific area through exercise.

    I know I blogged about this yesterday, but this topic is a hot one. You cannot perform a specific exercise in order to reduce fat tissue from a particular area. This myth is known as "spot reduction".

    The body breaks down fat tissue in order to provide muscles with energy for force generation and recovery. The sites at which the fat is broken down from is left completely up to your genetic makeup and not the type of exercise you are performing. For example, you may be running, yet you may lose more fat from your stomach than your thighs.

    A common implication of this myth is on many television commercials. Have you seen an ad that suggests to perform a crunching motion to flatten your stomach? Or have you seen an infomercial that advises to use a particular leg machine in order to tighten up your thighs? Now you are aware that a specific exercise does not target a specific site for fat loss.

    Exercise Myth #2: You can convert fat into muscle

    This is a big misconception. If you look at fat cells and muscle cells under a microscope, you will realise that they are completely different in structure. The properties of fat cells include energy storage and insulation, whilst muscle fibres generate force and provide mobility. Of course, there are many other functions of fat and muscle cells.

    With regards to fat and muscle mass, there are only two processes that can occur with each individually:

    • An increase in total mass
    • A decrease in total mass

    So, you can gain or lose muscle mass. You can also gain or lose fat mass. However, you cannot convert fat into muscle mass. If this were true, it would be an interesting world where personal trainers would firstly advise to gain significant fat tissue and then convert it into muscle!

    Exercise Myth #3: You can convert muscle into fat

    As above, muscle cells and fat cells are completely different.

    A classic example that I often hear is of the typical athlete who stops training and all of a sudden, all their muscle is perceived to turn into fat. Not quite - so let's analyse what is really going on here.

    An athlete is extremely active and therefore expends a high degree of calories each day. In order to fuel his/her body, they need to eat a lot of food, relative to the average person. When he/she stops training, it is not uncommon to remain on a similar diet. Because their energy expenditure is far less, yet their calorie intake is similar, they will now gain a substantial amount of fat tissue.

    With regards to muscle mass, the phrase "use it or lose it" sums up what is happening here. Muscle tissue is a burden on the body because it requires a high amount of daily energy just to sustain itself. If the athlete is no longer training and thus no longer require the same degree of muscle mass, they will experience a loss of muscle tissue.

    Exercise Myth #4: You can change the shape of a muscle

    Your muscles are the shape that they are due to your genetic make-up. There is no exercise that you can perform to change the shape of your muscles. You can increase or decrease the size of your muscles, yet you cannot change their physical shape.

    Think of your muscles as a balloon. You can inflate or deflate that balloon, yet they are going to remain the same shape.

    I have been asked a number of times if guys can change the shape of their pec muscles by changing up between dumbbell or barbell work. This isn't possible at all.

    Exercise Myth #5: Cardio is for fat loss, weights are for muscle gain

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Weight training can significantly enhance fat loss by:

    • Placing your body in a state of recovery and thus increasing calorie expenditure and fat oxidation (or breakdown)
    • Increasing the degree of muscle mass and thus increasing your daily calorie expenditure (remember, muscles burn lots of calories!)
    • Increasing your daily calorie output by the actual exercise performed

    Cardiovascular exercise can actually have some very positive effects upon muscle gain. If you are concerned about cardio impacting muscle growth, I strongly recommend that you have a read of my article, "Cardio & Bodybuilding - Good for Muscle Growth?"

    They have got to be five of the top exercise myths that I am asked regularly. I hope they provided some enlightenment!

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