Are there reasons you don’t want to lift weights? Maybe you do 100 crunches a day to get rid of that muffin top… It is not uncommon for the myths below to be taken as fact.
1. Spot reducing fat
Ahhh the most famous of them all is the one that goes along the following lines: If you want to remove fat from your inner thigh head over to the adductor machine, do some crunches and you will lose that fat around your middle. You know the ones, someone wants to remove fat from a certain area and so they only exercise that area. It would be great if it were true but it’s not. In fact what can happen is you can make the problem area look worse, as you start exercising that specific area that you want to shrink you actually start working the muscle, which gets more firmer and this in return causes the area to look bigger as you still have a layer of fat over the top of it. You cannot spot reduce fat but what you can do is balanced work out programme and then watch it go from all over your body.
2. Girls doing weights get all big and muscular and look more manly
This myth is one of the main reasons you don’t see many women in the free weight section, and a proportion of those you do head straight for the smallest lightest weights there. This myth is a long running one and for some reason it takes a lot of convincing to get women to think any other way. Women seem to base this on seeing images of female bodybuilders, a few points to point out here, err maybe I should reword that… nah. OK so to the points:
- First point – Women don’t get huge muscles from lifting weights, not because they aren’t lifting heavy enough but because they have less testosterone than men (women have approx 10% of the amount men have), simple nothing much else to it. I am sure some guys out there will tell you how hard it is for them to put on a lot of muscle mass so to think that women can lift a few heavy weights and suddenly they have huge bulging muscles is just not true, it‘s not going to happen.
- Second point – Steroids, yes that is how many of those female bodybuilders get to the size they are. So if you are not taking steroids or following a bodybuilding programme specifically designed for this then you are not going to get that big.
The truth is that if you do resistance training you will burn more calories faster than doing cardio alone, not only that but your body will change shape, in a good way, and as you lose fat you will be left with lean, toned and firm muscles and be stronger than you were before.
3. Muscle weighs more than fat
This is an easy one. They both weigh the same – 1lb of fat will weigh the same as 1lb of muscle, the difference is in the size, 1lb of fat will take up more room in the body than 1lb of muscle. So using this logic, if you lost 1lb of fat and put on 1lb of muscle you will look different, your body shape will change, your measurements will change. This is why it is recommended that you take measurements if you are trying to lose weight as the scale may not always be a true indicator of how well you are doing. Especially if you are combining Resistance training with your cardio and you will be increasing your muscle mass, a good thing as you want to be lean and toned once you have lost that extra fat.
4. For fat loss I should only do cardio
So this one goes along the lines of, if you want to lose fat you must just do cardio and lots of it. Yes cardio is the best form of exercise to burn fat but if you only do cardio you will not just be losing fat but lean muscle as well (lean muscle will be used as fuel if you do prolonged periods of cardio) and this will slow your metabolism down.
Another thing I touched on in a point above is resistance training will help you burn more calories. This is because the more muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism will be, so when you are sitting down or even sleeping you will be burning more calories. To lose fat faster you should do a combination of cardio and resistance training. This will ensure you keep your lean muscle mass and your body will be lean, toned and firmer.
5. Sit ups will give me a 6 pack
Firstly sit ups are not the best ab exercise out there, if you do them with your feet braced, i.e. someone holding them down or tucked under the bed etc then you will be working your hip flexors more than your abs. Back to that 6 pack, no matter how many ab exercises you do you will not see that 6 pack if it is covered by a layer of fat. Work your whole body and core muscles, lose the fat (as mentioned in number 1. you cannot spot reduce fat) and voila 6 pack abs, everyone has them you just need to reveal them. In order to see muscle definition men will need to be approx 10% or less body fat and women approx 20% or less. If you want to know the best exercises for your abs click here.
6. If I stop eating I will lose weight
It would seem that people believe in order to lose weight the easiest way is to just drastically cut the amount of calories they are eating. By severely restricting your calorie intake you will be causing yourself more problems, your body needs a certain amount of calories for it to function properly, your body burns off calories throughout the day, your digestion process burns calories. If you stop eating or reduce your calories too much your body goes into starvation mode, it will hang on to everything you eat and it will store it to be used as fuel. You will slow down your metabolism and your body will not function properly. This is not a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight.
If you do lose weight this way I can guarantee you that as soon as you start eating properly again your body will gain the weight back very quickly, this is why a combination of exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
Another point, if you only diet to lose weight you will not necessarily be left with a lean toned looking body, and I am sure that’s one of the things you do want once you have lost weight, this is because you need to build your muscles so that they are firm enough and big enough to show under your skin, another reason to add some weights into your routine.
7. If I train everyday I will reach my goal faster
This is called over training and will have a negative impact on reaching your goals. Your body needs time to recover. If you are working to build muscle then you need to allow your muscles time to recover as this is when they repair themselves and the repair process is when your muscles increase in size and strength. If you over train you will be more at risk of injury, you will experience reduced strength, speed, endurance and you could also start losing lean muscle (I touched on this under number 4). Make sure you programme in recovery days to get the best results from your work outs and to reach your goal faster.
8. A high BMI means you are overweight
BMI or Body Mass Index is a familiar term and is often used as a way of determining if someone is underweight, overweight etc and is worked out by using your height and weight. Once you have your number you can compare it to the numbers given in a set table and you can see if you are underweight, normal, overweight etc.
Now the reason BMI is not a good indicator of whether you are overweight is because it does not take into consideration your body composition, measurements etc. So using the BMI you could have someone who has a high body fat % and they come out in the overweight category and this would be true for them but on the other hand you have a person who is the exact same height and weight but they are an athlete and they are also put in the overweight category (which it is clear to anyone who is looking at them that they are not). BMI is not to be relied on, a more accurate way to assess someone is to measure their body fat percentage.
There are many more myths out there so feel free to leave any you have heard in the comments below and I will happily look in to each of them and include them in a future post.