Eight Exercise Myths
The world is full of advice and facts about what type of exercise and how much of it, is the right amount for a healthy lifestyle but which are true?
Here, Getfitter.com dispels some of the fitness myths that you may have heard:
1. Low intensity aerobic exercise burns more fat...
Exercise at low intensity uses fat as the main fuel source, while exercise at high intensity uses mainly carbohydrate. (The two are at opposite ends of a continuum. As exercise gets progressively harder, the amount of carbohydrate used increases and the amount of fat used decreases.)
But the trouble with exercising at low intensity to burn fat is that low intensity exercise doesn't burn many calories. Tougher, higher intensity workouts burn many more. So overall, the amount of calories – and consequently fat – burned is higher the harder you work.
2. Weight training won't help you lose weight....
When we want to lose weight, we usually focus on calorie cutting combined with a good, sweaty aerobic workout. But what about resistance (strength) training? In a recent study, women burned at least 350 calories more over a 24-hour period on days when they strength trained compared to days when they did not.
While lifting weights won't consume as many calories as aerobic exercise, while you're actually doing it, it creates a higher 'afterburn' (the period when your metabolic rate remains raised post-workout) than aerobic exercise. Higher muscle mass also increases metabolic rate during activity and at rest. And if that weren't enough, a study showed that strength training while dieting helps the body hold on to lean tissue and shed body fat.
Watch our FREE video workout that uses weights or dumbells
3. The more exercise you do, the better...
Many of us have never reached this point and probably never will, but rumour has it that there is such a thing as 'too much exercise.'
Periods of rest are essential to enable to body to repair itself - and if you remove those rest periods you remove the body's ability to repair. You also risk damaging your health over the long term. Not to mention, if your body never gets the chance to properly repair itself, you will be operating at less than your full potential.
Phil Maguire recommends training every other day if you are resistance training, to enable muscles to recover properly.
If you are short on time then watch our FREE 6 Minute Workout Video
4. Lifting low weights lots of times is best for tone...
Many of us have the goal of wanting to 'tone or firm up', rather than to 'bulk up'. To do this we need to make the long protein tendrils within our muscles thicker, increasing the density of the muscle and reducing the space between muscle fibres.
Contrary to popular belief, lifting a low weights many times is not the way to achieve this. To make a muscle change, we need to challenge it with something heavier than it is used to. Lifting a weight that you can only manage to lift 5 or 10 times before fatiguing is the way firm-up slack muscles. See our shop for a great selection of weights.
5. Sit-ups are the best way to a flat tummy...
Sit-ups, crunches and curls work the rectus abdominis muscle in the front of the torso. This is commonly known as the six pack. Sculpting though a six pack may be, exercising this muscle doesn't flatten the tummy. That is the job of your 'core' otherwise know as the transversus abdominis, a thick, corset-like belt of muscle that runs all the way round the waist from back to front. The core is responsible for flattening the tummy - as well as supporting the back and giving good posture.
The Vibration Bar which we use in many of our Getfitter.com workouts is fantastic for working the core as are many our exercises with the Swiss Ball and on the mat. Pilates, Yoga and horse riding are also good for working the core.
Watch our FREE Video that just focuses on your Core muscles
6. The step-machine or step classes give you a big bum...
Stepping is actually a great low resistance, cardio workout that will boost your aerobic fitness and strengthen the muscles in your legs and bum, without bulking them up. (Because the action of stepping is low-resistance it won't present sufficient stimulus to muscle tissue to cause it to grow.)
However, remember to be aware of your posture while stepping. Keep your core engaged to support your back.
7. Running is bad for your knees...
Running has long been lambasted for damaging knees, but provided that you do not train excessively, wear good quality running shoes, try to run on softer surfaces such as grass rather than concrete and make sure you warm up properly, it can be quite good for them.
A study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that running can protect against osteoarthritis by keeping joints and connective tissue strong, mobile and topped up with nutrients.
8. The more water you drink when exercising, the better...
While our fluid requirements increase significantly during exercise, it isn't necessary to slurp down five gallons of water. If you drink too much, water will be sloshing around in your tummy and you'll soon have to wee it straight out again which will interrupt your exercise routine!
It is best to maintain good hydration throughout the day, so you don't start out dehydrated, rather than just focusing on drinking just before, during or after you workout.
Current advice is to drink according to your thirst. Alternatively, if you are going to do a period of very intense exercise you can weigh yourself before and after your workout and replace the amount of weight loss in grams with the same amount of fluid in ml.
And make sure the water you're drinking is at room temperature, as cold water will just sit in your stomach until is reaches body temperature before being absorbed.