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Separating the fact from the fiction in the world of fitness

Debunking 5 Common Fitness Myths

Created by Jamie Spoor


6 minute read

Ever wondered exactly how accurate those "golden rules" you get fed up of hearing are? You know the ones we mean: those well-worn nuggets of advice repeated ad nauseam by fitness experts up and down the land as you battle to get in shape.

You never think of questioning what you've been told but, deep down, the lingering doubts remain — am I 'doing it right?' Fact and fiction often seem to intertwine even when it comes to fitness and, as a result, it can be easy to go off track. Here, we attempt to debunk some of the most common fitness myths you've come across and what your correct approach to the process should be.

Table of contents:

  1. Running alone is not an effective way to lose fat
  2. High protein foods don't guarantee fat loss
  3. You don't have to train every day to get in shape
  4. Increasing calories gradually is key
  5. Lifting heavy weights don't bulk you up

Running alone is not an effective way to lose fat

Running several times per week is very challenging on the body. It places your joints under enormous strain due to the consistent impact of you hitting the ground, particularly when you run on hard surfaces.

It is also unachievable for many. If you're struggling to shed the pounds, regularly going for a run isn't sufficient. It will help in the immediate short term, but to build up long term calorie loss, you need a higher metabolic rate through resistance training.

Adding more muscle means that your body requires more energy (calories) to recover from your sessions and then maintain that muscle. Therefore, your metabolic rate and calorie burning efficiency increases. This is far more effective and sustainable than just relying on running.

Running is great for cardio work but it should be a supplement, not the main course. To achieve a better body shape, try and aim for something realistic, enjoyable, sustainable, and effective.

High protein foods don't guarantee fat loss

Do you struggle to understand why you can’t lose body fat? You add more protein to your diet but are still unable to make progress? A higher protein diet will be beneficial to your weight loss goal, as it will help to change your body shape and help you gain muscle.

However, adding in more protein does not mean you will then make progress in terms of weight and fat loss. It's a common error to prioritise protein over calories. High protein foods are useful, but if they are high in calories they are not the best option when it comes to diet. For leaner food options, consider:

  • Chicken breast over chicken thighs
  • Fillet steak over rib eye steak
  • Cod over mackerel
  • Low fat yoghurt over ordinary yoghurt
  • Beans over nuts
  • Savoury pancakes over sweet

This will ensure you hit your protein target but also not take your calories overboard, and even giving you room for the occasional treat. It makes the process more enjoyable and allows you to keep the foods you enjoy.

You don't have to train every day to get in shape

Do you feel that you have to train with intensity every day to get in shape? Does it make you exhausted and overwhelmed? If you love your fitness sessions, it's easy to fall into this trap and put your best foot forward every day. Not only will it fail to produce the results you want but you will become tired quickly and both the quality and quantity of your sessions will decrease, therefore making it counter productive.

But this approach is neither necessary nor is it sustainable. Your recovery is also a crucial part of the process. Without it, you will really struggle to be consistent. So stick to three or four high quality sessions per week, depending on what your body can handle, spread them out across the week, and prioritise recovery and cardio on non-training days to make better progress.

Increasing calories gradually is key

Yes, you read that right! Many people believe that to lose lots of fat, you have to go on super low-calorie diets and restrict yourself immensely. Because the less you eat, the more fat you lose, right? Well, the truth is that this is one of the worst things you can do for fat loss.

Your metabolism will stop working if you are not eating enough, because your body will not have enough food to turn into energy. Once your metabolism stops, fat loss stops. So, a much better method is to start on relatively low calories and build up over time. This is because the more you train and the more muscle you put on, the more energy and calories you require.

To keep up with increased energy requirements, adding more food is crucial to you continuing to lose fat over a long period of time. So, in short, drastically reducing calories is NOT the answer. Aim to start low and build up gradually as your energy demands increase, whilst staying in a moderate calorie deficit, which is key to consistency.

Lifting heavy weights DON'T bulk you up

Probably the most common misconception of them all. The belief about heavy weight training, especially among women, is lifting heavy weight will lead to a bulky looking physique. It’s true that lifting heavy will lead to a growth and increase of muscle cells, but the idea it leads to a "bulky" look is simply untrue.

Excessive body fat is what causes both men and women to look bulky. The most important aspect of someone’s physique is his or her body fat percentage: a good physique nearly always requires a fairly low body fat percentage to achieve.

Lifting heavy can help accomplish this. Heavy weight training has a plethora of benefits that can help develop muscle, shed fat and ultimately lead to anyone’s desired physique. Pulling weights make your muscles stronger, increases your bone density and physical co-ordination and decreases body fat.

In order to lose fat and get rid of the “bulk”, a cutting diet is required. In simple terms, this requires you to burn more calories than you eat. There is much more to the process, but in a nutshell, eat healthy and eat less.

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