I have been actively involved in the world of fitness since my late teens. Those who know me know that being healthy is an integral part of my life. And I don’t just mean working out. Yes, I love hitting the gym and getting my sweat on but being healthy is more than that. What goes in your body is just as important as the exercises you do. I might even go as far as saying it’s more important.
I became a full time Personal Trainer less than five years ago, shortly after leaving the corporate world, but my fitness journey stretches back over twenty years. Despite all this time in the world of fitness and all the people I have encountered, I am still sometimes surprised at some of the things people believe where fitness is concerned. I want to say that people should know better but the internet is awash with misinformation so I won’t say it. What I will say, though, is that these are five of the myths some people still believe and I want to help debunk them.
Lifting weights makes women bulky
OMG, NO IT DOESN’T! This one grinds my gears slightly. Can you tell? Women aren’t built to gain muscle like men. Pun intended. The higher levels of testosterone in men’s bodies lend themselves nicely to bulking up. Women have lower levels of testosterone so we can’t get as big as men do unless we’re using additional supplements. Plus, it would take YEARS of extreme dedication and a tailored diet to even begin to look like a female bodybuilder. Weights are your friend. Trust me. Not only does weightlifting help to burn more calories, it can also make you look better in and out of clothes. Now, who doesn’t want to look good naked?
Weightlifting helps to burn more calories because it boosts your metabolism. Our bodies burn calories all day long. Even as you’re sitting still reading something on your phone. But weightlifting means that you’ll burn more calories after your workout than if you only did cardio. So maybe you hit the gym this morning and you did some heavy lifting. As you’re sitting there reading this, you might burn 30 calories instead of just 20 had you only done cardio. (Please note: These numbers don’t actually reflect the correct number of calories burned for this activity. They are only being used to illustrate the point.)
Now for the looking good naked! Contrary to bulking you up, lifting weights can actually add curves in the right places. I’m not talking about giving you bigger boobs and making your butt look like you had a BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift). But curves are there to be had. And muscle definition.
If you’re not already lifting, I suggest you start.
You can spot reduce fat
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘spot reduce’, it means getting rid of fat in a specific area of the body. This is not possible. Well, it is with liposuction but that’s not what we’re here for. Your body chooses where to eliminate fat from. You can’t help the process. Can you build muscle in specific areas? Yes. By choosing to focus your lifting efforts on a particular body part, you will build more muscle in said area. But the actual loss of fat can’t be controlled. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise will result in overall fat loss but I’m afraid you don’t get to choose where from. If you’re attempting to lose fat, focus on getting yourself into a caloric deficit. This means you’re expending more calories than you’re consuming. Then if you want to target problem areas, hit the weights! It might not help you reduce the fat there specifically, but it will help you create the shape you want.
Crunches are the way to abs
So this one is kind of true. I say kind of true because crunches are one weapon in the arsenal when it comes to building a six-pack. I work hard for my six-pack and it’s probably my favourite body part (or perhaps it’s my butt: I guess it depends on the day). But crunches alone didn’t get me my abs. The plank actually engages more muscle groups than the crunch and is a more effective exercise for strengthening your core. But, on its own, the plank is also not enough. A variety of abdominal exercises used in conjunction with each other will deliver you to the land of the six-pack. BUT all the planks and crunches in the world won’t mean a thing if your nutrition isn’t on point. Abs really are made in the kitchen. Cliché, I know. But it’s true. You could do all the planks, sit-ups, crunches and scissor kicks in the world but if your abdominals are covered by fat then you won’t be able to see the fruits of your labour. So start with getting your nutrition right first.
Running is the best cardio
Not true. The best cardio is whichever exercise you can do consistently and with an exertion level that gets your heart rate up. What’s the point in subjecting yourself to a running routine if you hate running? Not the best cardio if you don’t actually do it. Some people love running. And that’s good for them. Others detest it. I am a strong proponent of doing exercises you enjoy. It’s the only way you’ll stick at it. I know people who don’t run because they’re afraid they’ll fall. Others are worried about their knees. There are other cardio options out there. If you’re in the gym, there’s the stair climber, the rowing machine, the bike and the elliptical. Outside of the gym there’s swimming, hiking, dancing and countless other options. Find an activity you like so you can remain consistent with it. But make sure it gets the heart rate up. I’m partial to burpees, but we’re not all the same (plus I’ve been called crazy more than once, so who knows?! Find yours and have fun!
Squats are bad for your knees
Excess weight is bad for your knees. This is not me body shaming anyone but if you are overweight then you probably already know that it’s not good for your joints. Also, doing exercise with poor form is bad for your knees. Spending all day kneeling is bad for your knees. I have no idea why anyone would need to be on their knees all day but I know it’s not ideal. You know what’s not bad for your knees? Squats. Or maybe I should say properly-executed squats.
The squat is actually one of the best exercises you can do because it targets so many different areas, plus it gives you a nice butt (the proof is in the pics!). It doesn’t matter if it’s a weighted squat or not. You don’t have to squat with weights to see any benefits, although adding weights can be beneficial depending on your fitness level/goal. Having said all that, if you have a pre-existing issue with your knees then you may need to avoid squats or use a modified variation of the squat to prevent further issues.
The squat is one of my favourite exercises and I encourage all my clients to utilise this powerhouse of a movement. As long as it’s done with the correct form, it is not damaging to the knees or any other joints.There are so many more myths surrounding fitness but this list showcases the ones that bother me the most. Don’t limit yourself and fail to reach your fitness potential because of the myths floating around out there. Yes, the internet is full of misinformation and fake news so it can be hard to find a trustworthy source. My suggestion is to check out reputable websites and/or trainers at your gym. Better yet, subscribe to my blog for more useful and trustworthy advice 😉 Most importantly, JUST GET MOVING!