Fitness Myths Debunked: There is a lot of misinformation in the fitness industry. As a personal trainer it is important to be able to understand the difference between fact and fiction. Here are some common fitness myths debunked.
Myth 1: Women who lift weights get big, bulky muscles.
Women will not bulk up like men, because they have a different hormone profile. Men have more testosterone, which promotes muscle growth. Nutrition is the biggest factor in becoming “bulky”. If energy in is greater than energy out, additional “bulk” will be put on. Resistance training is important for everyone for strong muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.
Myth 2: Muscles will turn to fat if you stop exercising.
Muscle cells cannot physiologically be turned into fat cells. They are two totally different cell types. Once resistance training is stopped muscle will lose strength and atrophy (decrease in size). If the same amount of food is eaten (calorie excess) the additional energy will be stored as additional fat. The fat cells will store the additional energy and become bigger (fatter).
Image: Fat Cells (above) and Muscle Cells (below) are different types of cells.
Myth 3: You can ‘spot reduce’ problem areas.
Spot reduction exercises promote working a particular muscle or body part to burn fat from the worked area. This does not work – when a person is in calorie deficit (move more, eat less) fat reduces from all over the body – where from and how quickly is dependent on individual genetic make-up and body shape.
By working a particular muscle group, that muscle group becomes stronger and bigger and potentially more defined.
Myth 4: Lift light weights for a high number of repetitions for toning.
Muscle tone is an ambiguous term but generally means having adequate amounts of muscle that are visible under low levels of body fat.
Maintaining muscle or building muscle occurs when the muscle is placed under overload. Overload results from increases in the load lifted. As the body gets stronger and adapts to lifting a certain weight, that weight will become easy to lift and the weight will need to be increased to create an overload effect. The best way to get stronger and build muscle is to lift heavy weights.
To reduce body fat energy output must be great than energy input. A healthy diet is therefore important.
In summary, lift weights to speed up metabolism, make muscles stronger through progressive overload, eat a well-balanced diet, do adequate cardiovascular exercise, and the body will become a faster fat burning machine resulting in a lean and toned look.
Myth 5: Men and women need different exercise programs
Men and women have the same functional anatomy and physiology in terms of muscles and exercise response. Both genders have the same musculoskeletal structure, and both require progressive overload to stimulate physiological adaptations in muscle strength, endurance and power.
Therefore, men and women’s exercise programs should be basically the same.
The only difference is that men have a higher capacity for muscle hypertrophy due to higher hormonal levels. The female menstrual cycle and additional recovery should also be taken into account when programming.
If you found this article of use, you may also enjoy Weight Training: Why Everyone Should Lift ; Circuit Training; or What Happens To My Body When I Exercise? Aerobic and anaerobic exercise.