Top 5 Exercise Myths that just won’t go away!

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Last week one of my articles was published in a fitness magazine, I have only been writing for a month or so I’m very pleased. It has been a few weeks since my last blog post, having started my masters degree recently I have had my head buried in journals for the last 2 weeks! Today I have found a gap in my schedule to write a little post, here it is…

My Top 5 Exercise Myths that just wont go away!

Myth 1:  Performing abdominal exercises will give you a flat stomach.

Watch late night TV and I’m sure you’ve seen an advertisement for some new ab blasting device that claims to whittle away your gut. Believe it or not, even in 2016 people are still fooled by this?

I don’t know how many times I have said this, the fact is you can’t selectively target fat on any part of your body, including the midsection. The only way to get a flat stomach is to strip away abdominal fat. This is accomplished by having a proper nutritional protocol, performing cardiovascular exercise to help burn calories, and increasing lean muscle to increase metabolism.

Ab training will help to develop the abdominal muscles, but you’ll never see that ‘six pack’ unless the fat in this area is stripped away. The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” holds true!

Myth 2:  If you stop lifting weights, your muscle will turn to fat.

Some people refuse to lift weights for fear that their hard earned muscle will simply turn into fat if they stop training. This is not true! Muscle and fat are two separate and distinct properties that have completely different molecular structures.

As you know muscle is a protein based tissue composed of filaments called actin and myosin. Body fat, on the other hand, consists of stored triglycerides, which are made up of a carbohydrate and three fatty acids. So the possibility of muscle turning into fat is like an apple becoming a banana! There’s just no mechanism for it to happen.

Don’t let the “muscle to fat myth” deter you from lifting weights. The only thing that happens when you stop weight training is that you ultimately lose the muscle that you’d once developed.

Having said this, muscle has ‘memory’ so it’s easier to get back that muscle when you re-start you’re training!

Myth 3:  Using the Stair-master / Stepper will give you a big butt. 

This myth might be funny if so many women (and men) didn’t accept it as fact. Apparently this myth came about after a popular magazine quoted a so called fitness ‘expert’ who stated that stair climbing was the answer to a strong and well developed behind. Anyone who has studied exercise physiology should tell you that it’s virtually impossible to substantially increase muscle mass from stair climbing, or any other aerobic activity for that matter. You must understand that during cardiovascular exercise the primary type of muscle fibres utilized are the slow twitch (endurance related) fibres. These fibres get much of their energy by burning fat for fuel, contracting very slowly but having the ability to endure extended periods of activity.

Slow twitch fibres have only a limited ability to increase in size. It’s the strength related fast twitch fibres that have the capacity to grow sufficiently large. And since fast twitch fibres aren’t recruited to any great extent, the chances of your butt beefing up are just about zero.

If you enjoy using the Stair-master, go ahead and climb away without worrying that your booty will expand to the size of a city bus. If anything, you’ll probably reduce the size of your butt due to its fat-burning effects.

Myth 4:  You should perform cardio in your “fat burning zone.”

Step into any gym and you’ll hear personal trainers preaching that the best way to lose weight is by exercising in your ‘fat burning zone’ While the theory to this is sound, the fat burning zone is actually based on faulty interpretation of research showing activities performed at a low intensity (60 to 80 percent of max heart rate) burn a greater percentage of fat calories than higher intensity training.

The Fact is burning a greater percentage of fat doesn’t equate to burning more total fat calories. High intensity exercise burns more fat calories on an absolute basis than lower intensity activities, making it the preferred choice for those looking to optimise fat loss.

One of the best fat-burning forms of cardio is interval training, where you intersperse periods of high intensity exercise with periods of low intensity exercise. This not only maximises fat burning during the activity, but also increases a phenomenon called excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)  the amount of calories burned once the activity is finished helps keep your metabolism elevated long after you’ve stopped working out.

Myth 5:  Sweat is the best indicator of exercise intensity.

You’ve no doubt heard trainers say, “If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough” Many people adopt this as truth and believe it’s the key to a successful workout. It isn’t!

While sweat tends to be associated with rigorous exercise, it is by no means essential to achieving results. If it was, you’d get big and strong relaxing in a sauna!

Research tells us that sweat is an indicator that your body temperature is rising, not necessarily that you are exercising at an intense level. Your body regulates its temperature by activating your sweat glands, which then pores as a cooling mechanism.

Rather than focusing on how much you sweat, use a heart monitor? Or  monitor exercise intensity by using a rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Although this is a subjective scale, you will have to estimate how difficult an activity is to perform and be honest with your self.

So there we have it, the 5 most common myths / questions that I still hear in the gym even after all of these years. Unfortunately I predict they wont go away for ever and no doubt I will here them again soon.

Happy Training…

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