Fitness Myths Debunked

The growth of gyms and exercise facilities has been rapid right across Australia. From the big cities to country towns, you really don’t have to travel far to find a gym. There’s women-only gyms, 24/7 gyms, Crossfit gyms, functional movement gyms and the good old room filled with heavy things that, for a small fee or membership, people can pay to enter and lift these heavy things repeatedly.

There’s no doubt about it that this is a positive addition to society. More gyms means that people can find one that suits their needs, and overall the number of people aiming to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle has increased. However, there is a danger of there being too much information out there about what exercises are best and what everyone should be doing in the gym. Let’s look at some common fitness myths and preconceptions that people have and weigh them up against the facts.

Myth: Doing sit-ups will get you a six pack.

This is a common one. In actual fact, a six pack is dependant on body fat percentage and not the amount of sit ups/crunches or other ab exercises you do. For guys, you’ll have to have a body fat percentage below 12. For women, below 20% is usually fine.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any ab or core exercises – they’re beneficial for strengthening your core and showing off your muscles once your body fat percentage drops.

Myth: Lifting weights will make you bulky

A friend once related this to me in this way: For those who say ‘I don’t want to go to the gym because I’ll get bulky’, it’s like saying ‘I don’t want to go to University because I’ll get a PhD’.

It takes time, dedication, a disciplined diet and a specific program in order to actually become ‘bulky’. Bodybuilders didn’t get to their size overnight, and nor did it happen by accident. Women will find it harder to gain size as opposed to men due to lower testosterone levels inherent in women.

Myth: Size = Strength

You don’t need massive muscles to be strong. One measurement of strength is power and power is generally gained through exercises that do not add any size. Examples of such are martial artists who exhibit incredible strength without the need for large bulk.

Of course, some people will need size to gain that extra strength. But remember that you don’t need to be the biggest, muscliest person in the gym in order to be strong.

Myth: Cardio will decrease muscle gains

A Japanese study found that doing cardio after weight training actually increased the amounts of fat that were burned. This is due to an increase in growth hormone levels brought on by the weight training. So, feel free to tuck into the cardio after your weight training – it will help you gain muscle and burn fat.

Myth: Vigorous Exercise Helps you sweat out toxins

Sweating won’t help to purify your body of anything, save for a bit of water, salt and some electrolytes (despite it feeling like you’re sweating your hangover away after a big night out). Your sweat glands aren’t actually connected to other parts of your body, and their role is to keep us cool rather than eliminate waste. Waste is eliminated through other systems of our body such as the kidney, liver and digestive system.