The fitness industry is one that can be a bit of a mystery, and even people who go to the gym regularly might be guilty of believing some of these myths. Whether it's because of misleading ads, or just a lack of research, many damaging theories still manage to stick around. The good news is, it's easy to learn more and start doing things the right way. Here are some of the biggest health and fitness myths - after reading this, you will have no excuse.
Doing a Particular Exercise Will Burn Fat in That Area
This is one of the most prevalent fitness myths, but it's understandable that many people might think it's true. After all, people are often encouraged to do these exercises without having the effects properly explained to them. For example, you may think that doing sit-ups will help you get rid of abdominal fat and give you that toned torso. Actually, you can't choose which parts of your body will lose that fat. It's largely down to genetics where you store excess fat, and the best way to get rid of it is to do exercise that burn the most calories, couples with a healthy diet. Sit-ups on their own won't burn that many calories comparatively, so believe it or not, doing an intense set of heavy squats will help you get those abs a lot more quickly.
You Can 'Tone' a Muscle
This is another one that many people fall for, but the fitness industry is largely to blame for this. Advertisements on TV, people at the gym or even less educated personal trainers might tell you that a set of bicep curls with a low weight will be great for toning. Muscles can't be toned though - they can only grow or shrink. In fact, being 'toned' is a combination of having good muscle growth combined with, most importantly, low body fat. Having a lower body fat percentage makes you muscles stand out a lot more, giving the illusion that you've gained muscle.
If you're actually trying to build muscles you're going to struggle to do so without gaining a little bit of fat as well, unless you're a beginner. Unfortunately, that's the way the body works - trying to lose weight and gain muscle is going to be an uphill task. That's why it's important to have a clear goal at the start of you training and stick to it.
Diet is Secondary
While time training in the gym is obviously well-spent, it's what you do outside the gym that will have the greatest effect on you results. The main part of this is diet. First, you've got to have a clear plan regarding your goals. trying to lose fat? Build muscle? Your diet is going to vary based on your individual needs. For building muscle, you need to give your body more energy that you're losing (a calorific surplus). For losing weight, it's the opposite - taking in less energy that you're burning off (calorific deficit). You can work your heart out for an hour at the gym, but if you stuff yourself with pizza afterwards you're going to undo all the good work. In moderation, though, you can eat almost anything, as long as you're keeping your calorie intake where it needs to be. Try an online calorie calculator to see how many calories you should be consuming in you diet based on your age, gender and lifestyle.
It's Easy to Build Muscle
People look at pictures of professional bodybuilders and get a false idea of what's possible within a short space of time. Of course, many of these figures will be promoting certain supplements such as protein powder, creatine, and much more. The trouble is, these supplements are almost certainly not solely responsible. And I’m not talking performance-enhancing drugs, although that guy on Instagram just might be taking something. The real fact is that building muscle takes time. Those that are HUGE, yet natural have dedicating hundreds, if not thousands of hours in the gym, they understand how important diet is and count their macros, supplements help, but soooo much has gone into looking like a Greek god. It takes years of dedication that not everyone can stick to.
The key thing is to measure up against yourself. Stop comparing to others. As long as your physique is improving month by month, you shouldn't worry about what others look like. Every small improvement you make will add up.
Weights Make you 'Bulky'
On the flip side, maybe you're scared you'll build too much muscle? Some people seem to be concerned about being too 'bulky' if they lift weights. If you're just trying to look lean and fit, then lifting weights is going to be a great option. It takes a lot of hard work to build a decent amount of muscle. One set of bicep curls won't turn you into the hulk, a rule of thumb is higher reps in the 12+ rep range helps build muscle but also burns more calories, shifting from anaerobic to an aerobic exercise. Heavy lifting requires more energy and thus burns more calories. So, in fact, weight training is key to looking lean. It may be so that strength training and eating a high-calorie diet with no cardio may result in appearing bulky, however, to say weight training alone causes bulkiness is a myth.