7 Myths Why the gym is not fixing it!


You've sweated, huffed and puffed. You've even worn Lycra in public... all in the hope of revamping your body. But you still can't shift your muffin top and the dial on the scales refuses to budge. "The problem is that when it comes to exercise, there's lots of misleading information out there, and if you're not doing it right you won't lose weight," says Lucy Wyndham-Read of LWR Online Fitness . Here, Fabulous sorts the fitness facts from the fitness fiction.

Myth 1:Weights will turn me into a beefcake

Say farewell to fat neck fears - you need the hormone testosterone to pack on serious muscle and women have far less of it than men. "Honestly, it's not possible - many female bodybuilders take male hormones to look the way they do," says personal trainer Nick Mitchell .

DO IT! Get lifting! "You can get stronger, firmer and lose fat," says Nick. Ask a gym instructor to devise you a programme using weights, or if that sounds too scary, try circuit training.

Myth 2: Running ruins my knees

Avoid jogging because you don't want gammy legs? Nice try. "Running is a great weight-bearing exercise that increases muscle strength and bone density, so the stronger the muscles surrounding a joint, the more it's protected from damage," says personal trainer Nicki Waterman.

DO IT! Go shopping! Find a specialist running shop and get fitted with the right trainers - the wrong shoes can result in foot, knee, hip and back problems.

Myth 3: Always stretch before working out

Don't throw yourself into a stretching routine the minute you enter the gym. "Stretching cold muscles is at best pointless and at worst harmful because you could pull something," explains personal trainer Karen Krizanovich. "Instead, start your workout with at least 10 minutes of gentle warm-up to get your muscles and joints moving - cycling or brisk walking are perfect."

DO IT! "Stretching is essential if you don't want to be sore later and it increases your range of motion," says Karen. "But save it for after your workout when your muscles are warm, so you won't hurt yourself."

Myth 4: Stomach crunches will flatten my belly

"Women hear that celebs like Jessica Alba do 200 sit-ups a day and think they can't compete," says Lucy. "But a perfect six-pack won't show if it's hidden under a layer of flab because crunches can't strip fat. Plus, crunches only work your rectus abdominis muscles - the ones that run down from the ribs to the pelvis. For washboard abs, you need to engage the transversus abdominis - the deeper abs - too."

DO IT! If you want to lose that spare tyre, cut calories with a healthy diet and start running or power walking to slim and strengthen your core. Lucy suggests: "To work those deeper abs, pull your belly button in towards your spine. Breathing normally, hold it for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times, two to three times a day, and it will work those trans abs that will naturally hold you in." Easy!


Myth 5: Exercising on an empty stomach will burn more fat

"Many women think that if they don't eat before a workout, their body will use fat for fuel," says Karen. "But it's not that simple. Even if you're dieting you need to consume some calories, otherwise when you start exercising you'll tire quickly and feel dizzy or faint. Feeling knackered is not a sign you're doing it right.

DO IT! "For a better, safer workout, have a healthy, carb-based snack like a banana, some nuts and raisins, or half a bagel spread with peanut butter, about an hour before you exercise," Karen suggests.

Myth 6: I need to exercise for hours a day to see results

Not true! "The Government recommends we all do 30 minutes' moderate-intensity exercise, five days a week, but it doesn't have to be all at once." says Nicki Waterman. Three 10-minute sessions of cardio a day will give you the same health benefits as one 30-minute stint. "So there's no need to feel guilty if you can only squeeze in a few minutes here and there," she says.

Do IT! Short on time but want to lose weight? "Exercise at a higher intensity to burn more calories overall," Nicki advises. "Perform intervals while walking, running or cycling - work very hard for 20 seconds, recover for at least three times that amount, then repeat." Just five minutes' skipping can burn 30 calories, while walking uphill will shift 43 cals.

Myth 7: Exercise is a waste of time if I eat straight afterwards

Knives and forks at the ready! "Post-exercise, your body needs to replenish its muscle glycogen stores with carbohydrates. It'll also benefit from protein to help rebuild and repair your muscles," says Nick.Result: a leaner, harder bod. "However, heading to the chippy and wolfing down double the calories you've just burned is not recommended!"

DO IT! Even if you're not hungry, drink diluted fruit juice, a milk drink or an isotonic sports drink such as Taut ($1.09, from supermarkets), for a small carb hit. "The half-hour after a workout is ideal for a meal," says Nick. "But rehydrate first so you don't confuse hunger with thirst and overeat."

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