You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘rules are meant to be broken.’ Well, it definitely to fitness ‘rules’ that masquerade as facts!
“Women shouldn’t lift weights or they’ll become manly”, “Protein powder is for bodybuilders” “I can eat whatever I want since I exercise”
Any of these sound familiar? Be honest, have you said these before. Do you adhere to these ideas? Well, hold on to your dumbbells because we’re about to debunk some popular ‘fitness rules’ and give you the low down on what you should actually be doing.
True Fitness’ Personal Trainer, Muhamad Asri Bin Mat Daud enlightens us by hitting us with fitness facts and plus the myths you should ignore to maximise your workout potential and get into shape!
Myth #1: Cardio, all day, every day
It is common for people to think that cardio (cardiovascular exercises) also known as aerobic workouts, are the only way to lose weight. While there’s no harm in doing cardio because it strengthens the heart and reduces blood pressure, among other benefits, people who just stick to cardio as a means to lose weight may that their weight tends to plateau after a while.
“Cardio is not the only way to lose weight. First of all, nutrition plays the biggest role in losing weight and cardio is just a small portion,” explains Muhamad. “Your body must work in a more synchronised way with our metabolic response, hormones, muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness, if you want to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.”
Muhamad adds that weight training can increase our basal metabolic rate which is the energy used while we’re resting. “This means that our body will burn a higher amount of calories while at rest. Thus, a combination of good diet, weight training and cardio training is a better choice for weight loss.”
Myth #2: Sit ups for washboard abs
You’re going for a beach holiday and you’re trying to get that flat stomach. Someone’s bound to say, “Do sit ups!” According to Muhamad, that’s not the best advice. “Your diet plays an important role if you want a flat tummy. Low glycaemic index carbohydrates – foods that are slowly absorbed by our body like fruits, vegetables, and certain wholegrain cereals – minimises the chances of the carbohydrates turning into fat.” Muhamad advises avoiding trans-fat and incorporating mono, poly unsaturated fats and saturated fats in controlled amounts into our diets. “As for protein, 0.8 to 1.2 grams of it, per kilogram of body weight is advised,”
Exercise is still important and abs aren’t built in a day. “The amount of exercise done must be proportional to the amount of carbohydrates consumed. Go for compound movements through resistance training such as squats, the overhead press and the bent over row (see sidebar). These exercises will engage big muscles and will consume a large amount of calories,” says Muhamad. “They will also activate the core muscles which can flatten the abs. Combine them with cardio and you’ll have a perfect workout for flatter abs.”
Myth #3: Bicep curls for flabby arms
According to Muhammad, “Tricep extensions are better instead of bicep curls because the flab is usually around the tricep area,” He adds that there’s no such thing as fat reduction in one specific area but we can tone up the muscles and its surrounding structures with isolated movements. “For flab, a full body regiment with compound movements is the best choice as it will burn more fat.”
Myth #4: Fats are evil!
Muhammad debunks this myth. “Fats are friends. Vitamins A,D,E, and K are fat soluble and most of our hormones are lipid (fat) based. Fats found in almonds, avocadoes and fish oil are highly beneficial for our health and well-being and this can actually help us lose weight.”
As mentioned, unsaturated sources of fats such as fish, seeds, nuts, olive oil and avocadoes could lower LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein, bad) cholesterol in our arteries and promote a healthier heart.
One gram of fat packs more than twice the energy in carbohydrates or protein. Thus, a fat-free diet deprives your body of fuel to burn. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming fatty acids increases metabolic health. Additionally, dietary fat helps to break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha-a major regulator of lipid metabolism in the liver- and fat-burning pathways through the liver.
Myth #5: Protein powder will turn me into a body builder
“Protein powder is a good supplement and can be consumed by most people. Muscles are built with protein and in general, most people don’t consume enough protein daily,” reveals Muhamad. “0.8 to 1 gram is recommended per kilogram of body weight in general but for an active person, they’ll need 1.0 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight in order to help sustain or grow their muscle.” Muhamad also says that, “If a person’s hormones such as testosterone and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) are normal, their body will definitely not become super muscular from just protein powder alone.”
#6: A woman shouldn’t lift weights or she’ll end up looking ‘manly’
Muhamad wants us to see things differently. “A woman should exercise and lift weights because it strengthens her bones,” advises Muhamad. He also says that for a woman to become a bodybuilder, high amounts of testosterone and HGH are required. “Some women have this naturally but if not, they’ll need to take supplements to increase the levels of those hormones. They’ll also need to focus on exercises that build muscles and train at least five times a week with heavy weights.” Thus, without taking special supplements and working out at a normal rate, women will not be able to bulk up to bodybuilder proportions.
Myth #7: I can eat whatever I want because I exercise
“Eating junk food is never good and even if a person looks good on the outside, how do they look like on the inside?” asks Muhamad, referring to a health issues like clogged arteries and high cholesterol levels. “Making good food choices keeps the body looking good, inside and out.”
Remember to check with your medical provider if you want to make any changes to your diet or lifestyle especially if you have an underlying medical condition. Depending on your fitness goals, do check with a personal trainer who will be able to help you draw up an exercise plan that’ll help you lose or maintain weight, or put on more muscle.
A form of weight training, the overhead press is usually performed standing or sitting. The weight is pressed straight upwards from the shoulders. This is a compound upper-body exercise which works the shoulders, arms, trapezius muscles (side of the neck) and abdominals.
Bent over row
This is also a form of weight training that targets the back muscles. Done with a bench as support, the dumbbell is lifted until the upper arm is parallel with the body as shown in the image.