Something that makes me so happy, is that more and more people are taking an interest in fitness. The level of exclusivity associated with the industry is slowly diminishing – with so many new forms of exercise emerging, everyone is getting involved! One thing that makes me less happy though, is the influx of fitness myths, bro-science and frankly, just plain shit advice that comes with it. Social media is feeding the emergence of self declared fitness authorities and whilst I recognise that they are coming from a good place, and love the level of enthusiasm, there needs to be a little more thought taken before dishing out questionable advice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking the piss out of the people who spread this stuff, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve probably done it myself at least once or twice early on in my personal training days. The fact of the matter is that nobody emerges from an 8 week PT course, knowing and understanding everything there is to know about health and fitness. If you meet a trainer who tells you otherwise and claims they know everything, the best advice I can give you is to swiftly tuck your money back into your sports bra and retreat. Quickly. The best trainers are the ones who recognise their shortcomings and will admit when they don’t know something, go away and do their research, and then come back with an informed answer, rather than spewing out an extra large serving of bro-science (with a side of their sponsored protein powder of course). The same goes for non-trainers. Just because somebody has a great physique, doesn’t necessarily mean they have all their facts right, nor does it mean that what has worked well for them will work for you – everyone is different.
That being said, I’ve decided to do some myth busting, and identify the truths, half-truths and bags of pure bullsh*t.
Myth No.1 – Carbs are bad
Carbohydrates are not bad. Full stop. That being said, I understand where this one comes from, so lets call it a half truth. Too many of us have a distorted vision of what a meal actually is these days, and attempt to nourish our bodies on carbohydrate loaded meals like pasta with garlic bread and pizza with chips (carbs on carbs!). That is bad. That’s because these are all examples of refined carbs, which release their energy quickly. These carbs leave you with lots of glucose in your system and this causes your insulin levels to spike which can cause you to gain weight. Slow release carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice and oats will sustain you longer and in moderation, can be very healthy additions to your plate. A properly proportioned amount of carbs on a balanced plate of protein , fats, vitamins & minerals, is nothing to feel bad about! Carbs give us energy & we all need energy! How will you sustain your workouts without a source of energy? The majority of the time, the people promoting this myth are disillusioned as to what a carb actually is. Both fruit and vegetables are carbs! Some people don’t eat carbs at all and lose tonnes of weight. Good for them, that is their personal choice, but it is not the only way to lose weight nor is it the right strategy for someone to looking to build muscle for example.
Myth No.2 – Weight training won’t make you lose weight
There are lots of different ways to lose weight. Yes you can lose weight through cardiovascular training but most often you can burn more calories through a proper weight training session. In the hours after a weight training session your body actually continues to burn calories! Also bear in mind that higher muscle mass can boost your metabolism, meaning the rate at which your body burns fat increases – making it easier to sustain weight loss!
Myth No.3 – Eating protein will make you bulky
C’monnnn guys! This one is just too hard not to raise my eyebrows at. All the dudes out there repping it out in the gym day and night will tell you it just ain’t all that easy to get bulky. Whilst protein can contribute to help you get bulky (if that is your goal), protein alone cannot make you bulky. This one really does frustrate me because lots of protein can actually lean you out! Again, every body needs protein. Protein is responsible for building and repairing tissue in the body, yes that includes muscle, but also things like your organs, your skin, your hair etc. Protein will help repair and yes build your muscles after a workout, but that will give you that lean, toned physique. As a women, you don’t have the right levels of testosterone to get bulky just like that. Getting bulky requires lots of clever training, persistent work, seriously targeted nutrition and more often that not, a penis.
Myth No.4 – Crunches will give you a flat stomach
Okay, so yes crunches are one of the (less desirable) ways to get strong abs. But strong abs do not necessarily mean a flat stomach. Crunches and other core exercises are ways to build muscle in the stomach, but unless you shed the fat on top of these stomach muscles, the only six pack you’ll be seeing anytime soon is the one in your fridge. Combining core exercises with some fat burning training (whether thats high intensity, cardio or weights) will give you a good chance of seeing abs one day. However the most important factor towards seeing definition on the stomach is nutrition. Get your diet in check, do full body fat burn workouts and train your core, and your stomach will be on the way to flat. I know what you’re thinking, we all have that friend that we
hate love, who eats whatever she wants when she wants and has a perfectly flat stomach. Maybe she even does 10 crunches a night and tells you thats her secret. Sorry guys, this girl is a product of some damn good breeding and top genetics, stick with the above advice.
Myth No. 5 – Lifting weights will make you bulky
Girls – weight lifting will not make you bulky. I repeat – weight lifting will not make you bulky. I have been weight training for years and sometimes lifting double my bodyweight without getting even vaguely bulky. There are some areas of my body that are fuller than what you may like, but to be honest those areas were fuller before I even started training, as that is just my genetics. In my more bulky areas (just call me quadzilla), I gained size out of choice and as a result of hours in the gym, training specifically for size and eating loaaaads more than my recommended daily intake. Weight training will give you that toned, shapely, curvy physique you are always lusting over on those ‘waist trainer’ instagram accounts. The only thing that waist trainer will give you is f*cked up organs – put your visa card down and go find some dumbbells.
Photography by Paelo Saddler.