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CRUSHING THE GYM MYTHS

Over the past few weeks you have had the misfortune of listening to the newbies professing to know every finer detail of exactly how to do that bench press, and exactly what foot placement targets which muscles. Some of these “theories” may have caught your attention but before you go about crunching your way down the road to abs and obliques, it’s only fair to debunk the training myths.

You can get a 6-pack by doing certain types of exercises.

How about “no”. The saying “abs are built in the kitchen” is the truth. You can sit up until the cows come home but if you are taking a bite of a donut every time you do it you are not going to see anything.

Higher reps are the best way to get definition.

A common misconception – especially among the ladies – is that lighter weights are the way to go. Taking it a step further, people also tend to believe that as long as you are repping out to the point of fatigue that is what counts. It does not. The hormonal responses in your body are different when you are doing 30 reps with a 4kg dumbbell as opposed to 6 reps with 15kg. More definition comes from lower body fat, which means cutting some calories.

You can’t be lean all year round.

Oh yes you can. But many people are constantly on the hunt for more – bigger, bulkier, better. In order to achieve your goals of being bigger you are going to have to increase your calories to gain more muscle, but this can be managed properly so that you don’t get that ballooned “I’m bulking bru” look. Being lean takes a lot of discipline and dedication which in turn affects other aspects of your life such as socializing, especially around the party seasons and winter months.

You can eat what you want as long as you train hard and take fat burners.

Repeat after me: You cannot out-train a bad diet. Again. Once more. You can certainly try (I have) and while harder training does lessen the punch of the pizza you had last night, it still doesn’t diminish the effects completely. Fat burners will certainly increase your energy, which will should in theory make your training more intense.

Most dedicated athletes who use fat burners do so to target the stubborn fat that is the last to go.

Weight training is bad for your joints.

And slapping your feet onto the hard tarmac isn’t? Lifting weights is controlled, it is non-impact, and if anything it increases the health of your joints because it strengthens the ligaments that hold them together. There have been various studies disputing this myth so if you are wondering, just stop.

It’s better to work one muscle group a day.

Guilty. And currently changing my program as we speak. Hearing the newbies refer to “leg day” and “shoulders day” is not necessarily wrong, but the beauty of weight training is that you can mix it up. Just bear in mind when planning your program that includes biceps, hamstrings and calves that muscles generally take about a day to recover so make sure that you give that group a rest the next day.

You can target where you want to lose fat and train specifically for that.

Not happening. Fat loss is an all over process and your body will start losing fat in some areas before others. Generally, the last to go is the stomach and that is ironically the first place that people want to lose fat. As previously mentioned, the diet is key to getting rid of fat. Your training accelerates it and builds the muscle underneath for that proud moment when you shed those last few kilograms, and you have a physique to die for already waiting underneath.

You only burn fat when you are in your fat burning zone, measured by your heart rate monitor.

Also not true. Ever hear of the metabolic window? That’s the time after your training where your body is still burning fat. The body is an amazing machine that will keep eating at your fat stores long after you have left your high intensity sprints on the treadmill. The key again is to keep eating food that will fuel this process and assist in getting rid of those bulky fat stores.

You should train fasted if you want to burn more fat.

This is a highly debated topic because many believe that this may be fact, yet the truth is yes, you will burn fat – along with muscle. Your body requires energy to work and if it doesn’t get the required amount of protein and either fats or carbs before your workout, it has no choice but to target the areas that do have the energy – even if it is stored in your muscles. So yes, you may lose some fat but the risk of losing the muscle that you have worked so hard for is too high. With a well-managed eating plan put together by a coach or trainer who knows what they are doing, you avoid running the risk of burning muscle if you train fasted. Yes, your scale will go down – quite dramatically – but that is because muscle weighs more than fat.

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