Workout myths debunked

Nyree Barrett sorts out the fitness fat from the flabby fiction


1 Muscle weighs more than fat
‘It’s obvious: 1kg of fat weighs the same as 1kg of muscle,’ says former international rugby player and PTX Dubai master trainer Charlie Keenan. ‘Muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue, and this is where the myth emanates from, so 10kg of fat is larger in volume than 10kg of muscle. If you’re working out regularly and busting your butt in the gym, your body fat will be reducing and your muscle tissue increasing, speeding up your metabolism and leaving you leaner and healthier.’

2 Cardio training is best for burning fat
‘High intensity, light weight-training and interval training are better ways to burn body fat than repetitious dull pounding of the treadmill,’ explains Charlie. ‘The most effective minute-for-minute total-body training system in the gym is the rowing machine. Try to do five sets of 500m with a one-minute rest in between, then add another set each week. Within a month of doing this four times a week, you’ll be leaner, strong, fitter and glowing with energy.’
Personal training sessions with Charlie cost Dhs350.

3 ‘I can’t run’
‘Everyone can run,’ explains Amy Saunders, a personal trainer at Urban Energy Fitness. ‘Learn the technique, give yourself the time to train, increase your workouts gradually and find a good group of friends to share the journey with you – you’ll be running 10km in no time. If you don’t know where to start, chose four or five of your favourite upbeat songs, put them on your iPod and give yourself the challenge of jogging for the duration of one song without stopping. When you reach this, aim for two songs, then three and so on.’

4 ‘I have no abs’
‘How many times do I hear this?’ says Amy. ‘Everyone has an abdominal belt. One exercise you can do regularly to tone your abs is the plank. Balance on your toes and forearms, keep parallel to the floor, relax your shoulders, tighten your glutes, bring your belly button close to your spine and hold for as long as possible. You can do this on any surface. Start with 20 seconds, and increase every day by 10 seconds until you can hold it for a couple of minutes.’
Amy runs bootcamps for ladies and expectant mums. Dhs85 for a drop-in; Dhs250 for a one-on-one session.

5 The bigger the weights, the better
‘The number-one goal of most young gym-going men is to look buff and bench-press big weights, and more often than not they overdo it,’ reveals Lee Johnston, who runs a sports rehab and strength conditioning clinic at Up and Running Medical Centre. ‘Couple this with bad technique and poor posture and, hey presto, shoulder injury. Invest in a one-off session with a trainer who knows the fundamentals of good bench-pressing technique, and perform twice as many ‘pulling’ exercises that follow the same plane (known as the sagittal plane) to ‘pushing’. This can take the form of cable rows, single-arm dumbbell rows or an exercise called “facepulls”.’

6 Chairs were a good invention
‘We’re innately designed to squat when resting,’ explains Lee. ‘If you watch an infant sit, they’ll drop down until resting on their heels. The chair has muted this innate function and caused muscular imbalance. In the Western world, this is the primary reason for the high number of falls and hip fractures in the elderly, and has contributed to the rise in bowel cancer (we’re meant to squat when relieving ourselves). I won’t go so far as to make you perch on the toilet, but doing deep squats daily will keep you more mobile, less susceptible to injury and more likely to avoid lower back pain.’
Sessions with Lee cost Dhs250-Dhs300. Up and Running, Al Wasl Road, (04 328 4600)

7 Fat makes you fat
‘Here’s a little-known fact; if you never ate carbs again, you’d probably live longer, be leaner and healthier,’ reveals sports scientist and former pro rugby player Matt Coe, co-founder of Inspire Wellness Solutions. ‘But if you never ate fat again, you would slowly begin to break down and become susceptible to a multitude of medical side effects and neurological factors resulting in an early exit. Studies have repeatedly shown that a high-fat, low-carb diet will actually make you leaner than a high-carb, low-fat regime.’

8 Soft, padded running trainers are good for you
‘Cushioned trainers change your natural running biomechanics from landing on the mid-ball of your foot to landing on your heel,’ explains Matt. ‘If you watch a toddler toddling, you’ll see they land on their mid-foot. While the ideal scenario to avoid injury would be to run barefoot, hygiene is an issue, so the best way is to slowly introduce running in lightweight trainers with minimal cushioning and great malleability. Trainers such as the Nike Free 5.0 or the Adidas Fluid [above] are a good start. Initially, run for short intervals in these, because muscles that have had little use (such as your calves) will be working extra-hard.’
Personal training sessions with Matt cost Dhs250. (056 105 7110)

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