There can often be a lot of contrasting opinions and misinformation about how to achieve optimal fitness. This is not only unhelpful and stops you from achieving your fitness goals, but, in some cases, can even be detrimental to your health. To help you out, we asked Strength & Conditioning coach Kate Whapples to debunk the top five workout myths.
1. Lifting weights will make you look like The Hulk
The notion that lifting weights makes you muscly is fundamentally flawed. Lifting weights doesn’t make you massive in the same way driving a fast car doesn't make you an F1 driver! To put on that much muscle mass is really hard work and includes eating a very specific diet and training really hard consistently for a very long period of time. What lifting weights will do is make your joints stronger and increase your bone density. The ‘toned’ look that’s become popular recently relies on building a certain amount of muscle, so don’t be scared of it!
2. You need to live off chicken, rice and broccoli
Adding variety is not only really important for your ability to stick with a diet long term, but it's also crucial to make sure your body has all the nutrition it needs. The slogan ‘eat the rainbow’ is used as different coloured veggies tend to have really different vitamin and mineral profiles, so eating a variety of healthy foods is really important. Healthy food doesn't need to be boring, and not everything you eat HAS to be healthy. Try an 80:20 split of healthy vs treats and you’re laying great foundations for a sustainable lifestyle.
3. Scales are everything
Scales can be a good place to start if you’re overweight and looking to change that. However, many people have an unhealthy relationship with the scales. Weight naturally fluctuates between the morning and evening and also throughout the month (especially for females). So, if you want to monitor weight, I recommend picking a set point in the day, weighing yourself in your underwear and only doing it once every other week at the most. This allows you to monitor your weight without falling into obsessive patterns. Once you’re at a fit and healthy weight, looking at body composition is often a better tactic. This takes into consideration your muscle mass compared to fat mass. Lots of very lean people are deceptively heavy, so I recommend focusing on getting to a healthy weight and then using things like body measurements and callipers to monitor your body composition instead of over-reliance on the scales.
4. Carbs are evil
Many people have a fear of eating carbs but they are essential for performance. if you’re hitting the gym or your 5-a-side match low on carbs, you’re likely to be capping your performance. In order to control your weight, it’s helpful to ensure you’re not consuming significantly more calories than you’re burning but you need to make sure you’re consuming enough carbs to give you the energy to perform at your best.
5. You need to do crunches to get a six-pack
Crunches don’t melt belly fat, they also aren’t a particularly great exercise to build abs either! You’re better off using a mixture of core movements within your normal gym routine and focusing on improving body composition if abs are the goal. Building strong, thick muscle through your core is essential for the definition most people want once they are visible, so keep putting the work in at the gym and it will happen!
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