6 Common Exercise Myths Exposed

Below I will outline the 6 most common exercise myths I have come across in my time as a personal trainer, some are obvious but others are so deep rooted I’ve even seen other personal trainers fall for them

-Muscles turn to fat if you stop exercising – FALSE

This is a myth that has somehow been widely accepted as truth by our society. The assumption is that if you have a lot of muscle and stop exercising it, then the muscle will turn into fat. This is scientifically impossible, losing muscle and gaining fat are two completely different processes and one element cannot turn into the other. This Myth probably came about when people noticed that guys who had once been very muscular had then gotten very fat after stopping training from a while, the muscle hadn’t turned to fat, the individuals probably just kept eating like they were training which would have resulted in a massive surplus of calories and weren’t doing enough training to maintain their muscle mass. Therefore they lost their old muscle and gained new fat.

-Sit ups give you a 6 pack or flat stomach – FALSE

This stems from the myth that it is possible to select the appropriate exercise for a given ‘trouble spot’ and shed fat from that area. Spot-reducing fat isn’t actually possible, fat will come off of your body in a genetically pre-determined manner, some people will notice that their face is the first area to show a positive change, others their stomach or bum area. The only way to reveal a flat stomach in a woman or 6 pack abs for guys is to lose the subcutaneous fat that is covering the area; a single exercise can’t do this for you. You could quite literally do 10,000 sit ups a day, and create very strong abdominals but if you haven’t got your nutrition and training in check and are still carrying some unwanted lbs then the world is never going to get to see those abs or yours. In order to get an idea of where you are going wrong in your search for the perfect stomach you may want to enlist the services of a personal trainer. Bottom Line is if you want 6 pack abs – guys you better get your body fat down to <10% and ladies if you want that much sought after flat stomach you better get down to <15%, and remember it’s not about weight, it’s about composition!

-Lifting weights will leave you muscle bound – FALSE

Many of my personal training clients, men and women, but mainly women worry that by doing some resistance training or lifting weights they are going to gain too much muscle and become muscle bound. This could not be further from the truth, resistance training will help promote some new muscle, but this will only serve to enhance your toned athletic appearance and will go a long way to helping you raise your metabolism to lose fat.

Guys: It’s not that easy, to become ‘muscle bound’ you are going to need to live the dedicated life of a bodybuilder for a number of years, if you aren’t going to do that then you have nothing to worry about.

Ladies: Whilst you can gain some muscle to enhance your toned appearance, you just don’t possess enough testosterone to become ‘muscle bound’ so you have even less to worry about. Only by taking male hormones in the form of steroids could you achieve this look, and even then it would take years of dedication

-Don’t eat before exercising – FALSE

Not eating before exercise is the equivalent of trying to drive across the country with an empty petrol tank. Pre- workout nutrition is essential to good performance, if you are arriving at training sessions on an empty stomach you are putting yourself at risk and will most likely go into a catabolic state, meaning you’ll begin using your muscle stores as energy. Meaning by the end of the session, composition wise you will actually be fatter than when you walked into the gym. My advice is to have a large meal 90 minutes before a workout, failing that grab some fruit or a sports drink 20 minutes before your session.

-You can’t be fit and fat – FALSE

This is a big misconception, I have seen ‘out of shape’ world champion boxers who could fight all night long and I have seen ripped guys in the gym that couldn’t run up an escalator without panting. Fitness is really a measure of the efficiency of your heart and lungs; just because you don’t have low body fat doesn’t mean you haven’t put the time in at the gym. Someone who is carrying a few pounds but still fit probably is either genetically pre-disposed to carry a little extra weight, working too hard (at a heart rate where they burn no fat) or not eating clean enough to lose their excess body fat. On the other hand bodybuilders are often absolutely ripped but many avoid cardio like the plague, meaning through dieting they have no body fat but the only training they are doing is heavy lifting meaning they have very little aerobic fitness. In the Gym not everything is as it seems.

– Having a personal trainer guarantees you results with no effort – FALSE

Hiring a personal Trainer is great step in the right direction, your personal trainer will be able to recommend the right exercise and nutritional program for you, provide you with accountability and motivation, but the responsibility for your success or failure is still firmly on your shoulders no personal trainer in the world can make you want something, you have to do that part for yourself.

Yours in Fitness,

Scott Laidler