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October 16, 2017

Going to the gym and working out means that you are also going to hear different opinions about exercise, diet, what works and what doesn’t.

However, not everything you hear (and do) in the gym is beneficial to your physique and health. A lot of training and diet advice circulating around is often too old or just formed on the basis of incomplete information, but a lot of the gym goers are following it and even advising others.

So, let’s distinguish fact from BS and expose the most common training myths:

❌ Spot Reduction

Also known as “lose belly fat”, “lose arm fat”, “lose face fat” etc.

Many people are doing hundreds of abs crunches, bicep curls, or body part specific exercises in the hope that they’ll lose fat from those areas. Well, unfortunately, that is not what is going to happen. Gaining fat is the result of consuming more calories than you use. Fat is stored globally not locally and when you exercise the fat “burns” (used as energy in lack of glycogen) everywhere in the body, not just the specific body part.

Furthermore, fat is unequally deployed throughout the body, depending on your genes, sex, age etc. For example, men tend to store more fat on their bellies, and the belly is the last place where fat will stay when trying to get rid of it. For women this problematic area are usually the thighs. It’s just how nature works.

What about the burn you feel in the part you exercise? That’s just lactic acid build up. So the solution is to have a good balanced workout routine that will work the whole body (not just the part you want to slim down) and combine that routine with a specific weight loss diet.

❌ More exercise = Better results

While more work, more studying could mean better results in life and school, this is not how things go with exercise. More exercise does not necessarily mean better results. Your body needs “down time” to recover from your workouts.

Intense exercise degrades muscle tissue and causes stress on central nervous system. It’s only when you rest that the body builds back up. So if you think you need to be in the gym 7 days a week to look good, then you must be doing something wrong, either with your routine or with your diet.

❌ If you are doing intense exercise, you don’t need to watch your diet

“You can’t out train a bad diet”. During a regular workout you will burn around 400 -800 calories depending on how intense the workout is. Just as a comparison a burger and chips meal can contain around 1200 Cals. Like we mentioned before, gaining fat is the result of consuming more calories than you spend on a daily basis, so you do the maths here.

Some people assume that if you exercise you can even compensate for eating junk food, a ton of sugars daily, drink excess alcohol etc. A well balanced and healthy diet should be the base of your healthy lifestyle as it underpins just about every aspect of your wellbeing.

❌ A split routine will work for everybody

Nowadays almost everybody uses split routines (e.g. chest day, back day, leg day etc.) and a split routine is not necessarily bad. However, they may not work for everybody. Split routines allow the trainee to work longer and use more volume for a trained muscle, but at the same time the large volume is the factor that prevents many trainees to progress with their training and muscle building. Only a small group of trainees, which are genetically gifted, or using anabolic steroids, can build muscle on a high volume/low frequency routine. Most of the trainees would do a lot better on a simple routine like the upper/lower split, a push/pull/legs split or even a full body routine.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still use a high-volume routine from time to time, but your basis should be a simple routine revolving around the compound lifts – at least if you are a natural trainee with average genes.

❌High Reps for Fat Burning/Toning

This myth is closely related to the spot reduction myth. For some reason people believe that if they do high repetition sets, they can “tone” the muscles. This misconception perhaps comes, again, from the burning sensation that lactic acid build up causes. Anyway, high reps (20+ reps) will only be beneficial for muscle endurance and will do very little for “toning” a muscle.

A much better way of toning the muscles is to book in with one of our personal trainers & embark on a progression based training programme relative to your goals.

For the ladies:❌Weight lifting will make you bulky and muscular

This is a particular pet hate of mine!

Yes, weight training can make you muscular and bulky – IF you train in a certain way AND eat a certain way. What this means is you need to lift pretty heavy loads (heavy is a relative term compared to your own weight of course), eat a surplus of calories and protein and maybe get some “anabolic” help. Getting that bodybuilding look doesn’t happen by accident, but rather it’s very hard to achieve it.

❔Machines or free weights?

Almost every gym is equipped with a wide range of machines these days. Machines are good in some cases, but nothing can replace free weights! Every machine will support you and has a pre-defined range of motion which is not suitable for every type of body and does not recruit the supporting muscle groups.

With free weights it’s the absolute opposite situation. Your body determines the range of motion as well as the path of movement, which is a lot better and easier on your joints, and also develops other aspects of your fitness such as balance and coordination. You also use those supporting muscle groups to guide the weights in the right direction.

For any advice or guidance on how to get the best out of your training, drop me a message or grab me in the gym

Rob Sewell
Personal Trainer