Here are a few of the biggest myths that are in the fitness industry. I hope these help to dispell a few of them.
Myth 1 – When it comes to your body, the bathroom scales aren’t as important as the mirror
It’s natural to look for proof of progress when you start a new fitness regime or start to work with a Personal Trainer but leaping on the scales every morning is the wrong way to approach it, please trust me this will not help you at all. For starters, the body mass index (BMI) system used by many governments worldwide is a poor indicator of health once you start putting on muscle. It makes no distinction between fat and muscle, so a 170cm-tall man who weighs 77kg will be diagnosed as overweight whether he has 8% or 18% body fat. A better indication is the mirror – it doesn’t lie.
Building as much lean tissue as possible should always be the aim, because it also creates the perfect environment for your body to lose weight effectively and keep it off. To do so, reduce your carbs and cardio, increase your intake of protein and healthy fats – especially at breakfast – and eat plenty of green veg. Finally, lift some weights. A well-structured weights programme, including plenty of big lower-body work, will help to build muscle and create the leaner look you’re after. Trust me it works!
Myth 1 – Want to shed kilos? Think short, sharp shocks, not the long and winding road
It’s easy to think of a gentle run as a fat-burner – it makes you sweaty and it feels like a workout. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, it’s far from the most efficient way to lose fat. You may have heard the myth of the fat-burning zone, but don’t be tricked: although it’s technically true that your body uses a higher percentage of fat as fuel during low-intensity exercise, the minuscule amount of total calories burned makes it almost pointless. Running is fine if you want to get fit, but not for fat loss. Don’t rule out running altogether as it is a great way to free your mind from the stresses in your life and for your mental health.
Here is the secret….The best way to lose fat is to lift weights and eat right. Lifting weights builds lean mass, raises metabolic rate and stimulates anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, which promote fat loss. Even when you’re not training, you burn more calories thanks to the metabolic demands of increased muscle. Running burns some calories but it lacks the anabolic effect of weight training, so it isn’t as efficient for fat loss. You can’t out-run a bad diet either. Eat meals high in protein and fats but low in sugar to avoid storing excess calories as fat.
Myth 3 – If you train enough, diet doesn’t matter
The real truth is that there is no amount of training that will offset a bad diet. “Of course I can have another packet of crisps,’ you say to yourself. ‘I’ll just work it off tomorrow.’ Consider this, though: every delicious pint costs you about 20 minutes’ moderate-intensity rowing, if you’re taking this seriously. Then consider that the beer reduces your chance of completing the workout, since it’s hardly the perfect fuel. Finally, remember that eating properly will make results come faster and help you to stick to your plan.
Diet should be your primary tool for hitting ideal body-fat levels – you simply cannot out-train a bad diet, you really cant!. Just look at the average competitor in the a Marathon, not the elite guys. Many are overweight despite pounding out the miles for months. Every magazine cover model has nutrition at the heart of their six-pack plan. And when it comes to muscle gain, you can undo all your work in the gym by not giving your body the foods it needs to maximise muscle growth. Focus on protein, quality fats and greens.’ Obviously you are allowed to have your treats, but everything in moderation is the key to your diet.
Myth 4 – Sit-ups build a six-pack
Are you doing hundreds of sit-ups and crunches daily in the pursuit of a six-pack? You’re wasting your time – and, according to spine structure experts, increasing your chances of lower back problems in later life. The best place to work on your six-pack is the kitchen, by watching your food intake. And if you’re relatively new to training, big moves such as the squat and deadlift will strengthen your core on their own. If you want to take it up a notch and train your abs directly, there are far more effective moves than sit-ups.
If you want a six-pack you need to train using the principles of hypertrophy, or going heavy for eight to 12 repetitions with around 60-90sec rest. It’s highly unlikely that sit-ups will overload your abs enough to let you reach failure you within that rep range. Instead, I’d suggest doing tougher moves such as hanging leg raises, weighted if they’re too easy, cable Russian twists and dumbbell pull-overs, going for two to three sets of each twice a week.
Myth 5 – You need weights to train
Want proof that you don’t need to touch a barbell to get in awe-inspiring shape? Look at Olympic gymnasts. Some never touch a weight but they’re all in impressive physical condition – and brutally strong. The key with bodyweight moves is to keep making them tougher and even that doesn’t take much kit.
My Opinion Getting in shape doesn’t have to mean hitting the dumbbell rack, look at Joe Wicks and Gymnasts. It’s a common misconception that the only way to get fit is in a gym full of machines. In reality, one can get fit anywhere – from your home to the local car park. The best way to achieve optimum results is short and intense workouts using your body plus simple tools such as a jump rope. Sprint, jump over things, skip and do burpees and lunges and pull-ups on tree branches. Make sure you always challenge yourself by increasing the difficulty each week – say, by aiming for more reps, shorter rest periods or tougher exercise variations.
I hope this helps to dispel a few of the common myths that are out there. If you have any questions at all please don’t be afraid to contact me directly on Instagram @shanewalshfitness or on www.shanewalshfitness.com.