Exercise and training myths laid bare


Walk in to any gym or health club in the land and you will hear guys talking about about 'this' and 'that' exercise or some supplement, diet, training schedule etc they have read about or done. And the vast majority of this chatter will be regarded by the teller and listener as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

However, the fact of the matter is that what works for Joe Public or Gym Smith may not would for you and I.

Gym mythology - Slay the beast
This article aims to answer some of the age old questions circulating around gyms, health clubs, spas, swimming pools and slimming clubs. By doing so we hope to lay to rest some of the queries, bizarre or otherwise, that people often feel confused about. So lets kick off with a favourite of your local gym rats.

Myth #1 - Muscle turns to fat when you stop training

This simply can not occur. Muscle and fat are two very different types of tissue (muscle being make up of complex fibre and filaments and fat being primarily a thick liquid 'gunk'). What does happen when we stop training is this: Muscle atrophy occurs because muscle tissue loses some of its protein, which in turn equates to loss of strength, bulk and tone.

This coupled with a diet that is still relatively high in calories (the diet of someone who still works out) means that excess calories are readily deposited as body fat.

Myth #2 - You can train your abs to lose fat from the stomach
This method of training is called spot reduction - we exercise a particular body part in the vain hope that fat will start to disappear from this said area of the body first.

Unfortunately this cannot occur. Body fat is only stripped when our daily physical expenditure burns more calories than we consume. When this occurs our bodies burns fat as fuel. Training the abs will not usually burn sufficient calories for this to occur. And even if it did, their is no guarantee that that we would lose fat from the stomach area first.

Myth #3 - Free weights add more muscle size than machines
What is true is that using free weights (barbells and dumbbells) requires a keen sense of balance and coordination; something which, due to their fixed alignment nature, machines don't often need.

As such free weights will strength tendons, ligaments and secondary muscles to aid certain lifts, perhaps not otherwise employed when performing a similar exercise using a resistance machine. However, scientific evidence is yet to conclude that free weight training adds more muscle or strength than using machines. And as such any self-respecting exerciser can happily include a variety of different free weight and machine movements within their resistance programme.

Myth #4 - You should work out in hot temperatures to lose weight
Science suggests that to reduce the chance of injury and to increase physical performance, the body should be fully warmed up before it engages in strenuous activity. This can be achieved by performing a 10 minute warm up, which slowly increases in intensity, prior to exercise.

Unless you exercise in cold, wet or windy conditions, exercisers shouldn't wear too many items of clothing or 'sweat tops' as the hot temperatures this may illicit may hamper performance and ultimately lead to heat exhaustion.

Note: This final rule of thumb especially applies to exercisers aiming to lose weight working out in a gym or health club. Increases in body temperature above a comfortable level can dramatically decrease physical output. This can consequently lead to less calories being burnt during exercise and less weight loss occurring as a result.



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