Starvation mode, fast metabolisms, no pain no gain? You’ve probably heard them all before, but which ones are actually true? The fitness industry is full of these myths and all they do is confuse us regular folk. Most of them are just trying to keep you safe, but some are actually quite harmful.
Let’s start with 10 common fitness myths:
10. Abdominal exercises make you lose fat around your stomach:
This is a myth and it’s known as ‘spot reduction’. It’s impossible to lose fat from a targeted part of your body. Fat is removed randomly from all over your body, no matter what exercises you do.The only way to lose fat around your stomach is to eat at a caloric deficit and lose fat from all over your body.
9. Starvation Mode:
This is a myth and it originated from a study where subjects were starved for months. You have no reason to worry about starvation mode; you will continue to lose fat if you stay at a caloric deficit of your choice.
8. Lifting weights makes you less flexible:
Studies have been shown that as long as you do a balanced program your flexibility will actually increase, not decrease. Good examples of this are power lifters and gymnasts.
7. Lifting weights will make me too big:
You will never accidentally become ‘too big’. It takes years of dedication in the gym and eating right to achieve a body builder look. Building muscle also takes time, so if you think you’re getting too big you can always change your program to stop yourself progressing any further in the size department.
6. Women will get big if they start lifting weights:
Women will never get as big as guys due to the lack of testosterone they produce. It also takes a very long time to gain muscle, so if you think you’re getting too big you can stop. In the meantime, why don’t you give it a try?
5. I have a fast / slow metabolism:
People without serious metabolic conditions are all very close to each other in terms of metabolism. We’re all actually within 200 calories of each other. If you count this into your daily intake you’ll find it’s practically negligible. I’m not saying a grown man needs the same calories as a small child, just to clear any confusion. 2 men of the same size height and weight will be very equal. One wont have a slow metabolism and one wont have a fast metabolism.
4. High repetitions make you toned:
High repetitions build muscular endurance and do not make you toned. In order to get the ‘toned’ look, you need to lose body fat so your muscles are visible. ‘Toned’ is literally just losing fat so your muscles are shown more.
3. Squatting is bad for your knees:
Squatting is perfectly fine for you knees, and if it’s done right, it is actually beneficial to them. The only possible way squats can damage your knees, is if your technique is wrong or you’re using too much weight too soon.
2. Lifting weights will stunt my growth:
Providing you use the correct technique when lifting weights, your growth plates will not be harmed. Just make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet, and start slow. Studies have shown lifting weights for youth’s also boosts self-esteem.
1. You cant be permanently ripped:
‘Ripped’ essentially means you have a really low body fat percentage, which makes your muscles pop out and gives you that 6 pack you’re looking for. Obviously you can’t maintain a ridiculously low body fat where you can see every muscle strand, but you can comfortably keep that 6 pack all year round. It isn’t easy though and it’s much harder for women.
Moving onto our top 10 most commonly asked fitness questions:
There are some specific questions that are pretty much always asked when people start out on their healthier lifestyle journey. How do I get a 6 pack? What’s the best diet? What’s all this malarkey about protein? Hopefully in this hand picked top 10 list you’ll find the answers you are looking for!
10. How do I get a 6 pack?
In order to see your abdominal muscles or ‘6 pack’ you need to have enough muscle mass to show them off and you need to remove the fat covering your 6 pack. The hardest part of getting a 6 pack is getting your body fat low enough to show them off. In order to lower your body fat percentage you need to consume less calories than your body needs.
9. Should I carry on working out, even if I’m sore?
It is completely fine, as long as you’re sore and you’re not in pain. What you are experiencing is DOMS, which is “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”. If you carry on exercising frequently, you will find you’ll no longer experience it after a few weeks. It is just a sign that your body did something new and you’re not used to it. If you don’t feel it after a workout the next day, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t beneficial. Your body is simply prepared.
8. Can I lose fat and build muscle at the same time?
No. You can only do one or the other. In order to build muscle you need to eat at a caloric surplus and in order to lose fat you need to eat at a caloric deficit, so it’s impossible. There are however, a few exceptions. For example, over-weight people and people brand new to training can sometimes grow muscle and lose fat.
7. How do repetition ranges affect me and how long should I rest?
Repetition ranges are very important in achieving your goals.
- 1-5 rep(s) are for muscular strength and muscle size. This range has little effect on endurance.
- 5-12 reps are for muscular strength, muscle size, and endurance.
- 12+ reps focus more on endurance, but muscle size and strength increases by a small amount.
The general rules for resting are:
- High Weight + Low Reps = Longer Rest
- Low Weight + High Reps = Shorter Rest
Resting periods should be chosen individually, go at your own pace.
6. Should I bulk or cut?
If you are underweight and you want to gain muscle you need to bulk. If you are overweight and you want to lose fat you need to cut. This relates back to losing fat and building muscle at the same time. You need to have 1 goal, so if you’re in the middle ground you need to decide if you want to gain muscle or lose fat. I personally recommend that you bulk first so you have some nice muscles to show off when you decide to cut.
5. How much fat can I lose without losing muscle?
It’s much better to lose fat slowly rather than quickly, it’s easier that way as well. However if you’re looking to get rid of fat as fast as possible there’s a limit to how much you can lose in a week. You need to run a 1000 calorie deficit to lose 2 pounds a week. Any more than that and you will begin to lose muscle.
4. I’m injured, what should I do?
It all depends on how severe your injury is. If you have experienced pain for a few days, go see a doctor!
If you have injured your muscles, follow RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
If you have a joint injury, for example in your shoulder, start slow, and do some simple circle exercises every morning. Do the circles both clockwise and anticlockwise. If you have an injury in a hinge joint, such as your elbow and knee, don’t do circle exercises as this can make your injury worse.
You should also work out your joint and apply a very light pressure to your affected joints. Just make sure it’s nothing too strenuous.
I can’t emphasize enough that if you are in serious pain, go and see a doctor!
3. Do I need Protein?
Protein is very important; it is extremely beneficial for both fat loss and muscle gain. The amount of protein you should aim for is different for everyone. In general you should aim for at least 0.4g per pound of bodyweight. If you want to lose weight, but keep muscle mass and strength, you should increase your protein intake. If you wish to gain muscle you should also eat more protein.
2. Should I use machines or free weights?
It is entirely your choice, whichever you find more fun and feel safest doing. There are more benefits to free weights; however using machines is still very beneficial. Using free weights uses your stabilizer muscles and strengthens them, where as when using machines, your stabilizer muscles aren’t used.
1. What if I do strength training and cardio training?
Strength training requires more focus, especially on form. So it is better to do strength training first, so you don’t sacrifice form because of tiredness. However it’s up to you, do what you feel most comfortable with!
Bonus Question. Which is the best diet to follow?
There are many different diets out there that you can follow; all of them suit different types of people. The best diet is the diet you can follow. I recommend you try them all, and see which ones suit you best. Just make sure you maintain enough vitamins, protein, minerals, and limit your calories.
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