Fitness fables debunked

Seven popular myths about working out

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There are many misconceptions about what getting fit means. Personal trainer Jordan Weavill from Get Moving Fitness and Spa Center in the UAE puts some of the most common myths to bed.

Losing weight is the same thing as losing fat
People often mix up weight with fat. When you’re getting fit, you want to lose fat, but not necessarily weight. Two people weighing the same amount can have very different body types and levels of fitness. Depending on your size, you might not need to lose any kilograms. Jordan says: ‘The best way to measure overall physical fitness is by comparing measurements. If you are losing inches, then you are improving.’

You can get fit just by working out
Nutrition is 75 percent of a fitness plan. According to Jordan: ‘You will simply not see results if you don’t change your diet in conjunction with starting a fitness plan.’ In other words, just because you did a 30-minute workout does not mean you won’t feel the effects of those fries.

Doing thousands of crunches each day will give you six-pack abs
This is a common myth and it’s been set straight over and over but people refuse to believe it. It is impossible to reduce fat in just one single place. Jordan says: ‘If you’re dead-set on spot-reducing just get liposuction, because it’s not going to happen from endless crunches every day.’

It’s best to work out on an empty stomach
Many think that when it comes to workouts their stomachs should be empty. They won’t eat anything before the gym and after ten minutes they need to stop because they faint, have no energy, or simply can’t continue. ‘I tell my clients they can have fruit up to five minutes before they start their workout,’ explains Jordan. Green apples are the best. These carbohydrates are digested faster, quickly delivering energy to
the bloodstream.

Eat nothing after a workout to keep burning body fat
Quite the contrary. It’s important to eat a healthy protein-based snack (such as a protein shake) or small meal (a couple of eggs) after working out, and especially after strength training. The body has just experienced a series of small tears in its muscles and nutrients will help it repair the damage and grow stronger.

You need to work out every day
The more the better when it comes to working out, right? Not so! While at the beginning of a fitness plan you will want to be hitting the gym at least four times a week, the body needs at least some rest to recover from training. Different people will need different amounts of rest depending on their programme and their desired results. If you are lifting heavy weights to gain muscle mass, you will need at least two days per week of rest, because it is during the rest time that the muscles will get bigger. Also, Jordan says: ‘It is pointless to spend more than an hour in the gym. One hour, he says, is more than enough and the drawbacks to over-training, a weakened immune system and exhaustion to name just two – aren’t worth the extra time in reality.

Running is the best form of exercise
Many people believe that running is the only way to get fit fast. Plenty of very fit people, Jordan included, simply don’t find enjoyment in running. In fact, while running every day is a quick way to burn fat and lose weight, it’s not the most effective method for overall fitness and it is certainly not the only way to get in shape. Jordan recommends circuit training as the best way to get trim and toned. This consists of several exercises – usually between five and ten – each targeting a different area such as push-ups for strength, jumping jacks for cardio and crunches for core, performed for approximately one minute each, with ten to 20-second breaks between each exercise. The trainee performs the circuit three times for a workout that lasts about 30 minutes. It builds strength, burns fat and is more fun than just simple running.

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