FITNESS MY BUSTERS: DEBUNKING THE ALL TOO COMMON MYTHS SURROUNDING FITNESS
True, fitness is increasing in priority in the everyday lives of people, but there are things that still remain shrouded in mystery. Much like the case of too many cooks spoiling a broth, there are several myths and old wives’ tales about fitness floating around. It’s time to clear things up:
M Y T H # 1
CRUNCHES ARE THE BEST WAY TO GET A SIX PACK
The truth: Once we start feeling the flab building up around the mid section, we go straight for the crunches and sit-ups. Having a visible six-pack is almost entirely a function of body fat and minimally a function of abdominal development. So save yourself the wasted time, and possibly some back pain from the crunches, because working your abs alone will not shed the fat from your mid-section. The best way to get a six-pack involves making better dietary choices and doing high-intensity interval training.
M Y T H # 2
IT IS TOO LATE FOR ME TO GET STARTED
The truth: It’s never too late to start, regardless of your age. True, muscle development and metabolism may deteriorate as you age but the key is to compete with yourself. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. And for those of you who think you’ve tipped the weighing scale a few kilos too far, have a look at the transformation of Aditya Malla (Pg. 44) for some inspiration.
M Y T H # 3
STEADY STATE CARDIO IS THE BEST WAY TO BURN FAT
The truth: We wish it were true. Agreed the longer period of stable cardio (the easier kind) burns a lot of calories, but it’s what happens afterward that makes more impact. With high intensity interval training, which is cardio performed at a much more intense level, your body will expend a greater number of calories throughout the day in order to repair itself after the hard workout; this results in a greater number of overall calories burned.
M Y T H # 4
ALWAYS WORK A MUSCLE TO FAILURE
The truth: While you may be tempted to push your body to the max during every single workout, this isn’t the best approach since it can lead to overtraining. You need to create a proper, moderated workout — have some hard days interspersed with some easier days that your body can use to recuperate. These “easy” days aren’t wasted workouts; they can be used to focus on other aspects of your training, like muscle endurance by performing more reps with a lighter weight.
M Y T H # 5
ELIMINATING CARBS HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF
The truth: Although it’s true that you will initially shed some pounds if you cut carbs from your diet, the bad news is that you’ll gain them all back — and more — as soon as you start eating carbs again. So, when you go back to carbs after a long period on a low carb diet, your body will store it as fat more quickly just in case you are deprived of it again.
M Y T H # 6
YOU DON’T NEED TO WORKOUT YOUR LEGS IF YOU JOG
The Truth: Many men will pass on the leg training when they’ve jogged or done some interval training, focusing more on the upper body. Working your legs will indirectly help your upper body grow. Your leg muscles are incredibly large; when stimulated, they release a large amount of testosterone — the primary anabolic hormone responsible for muscle growth — throughout the body. Thus, you will benefit your upper body on days you don’t even work it out.
M Y T H # 7
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
The truth: It’s one thing to challenge yourself, but it’s a completely new ball game when you push yourself to injury. Injuries are one of the most common reasons for derailed fitness plans, so don’t overdo it. Build up your activity levels as you increase strength and stamina. If you experience pain, pull back and remember RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to speed your recovery.
M Y T H # 8
VEGETARIAN DIETS ARE BETTER THAN MEAT INCLUSIVE ONES
The Truth: Sure, eating lots of veggies is healthy. But in general, cutting out an entire food group — even if it is one that can be high in saturated fat — is bad idea. Meat is a key source of iron, which keeps your energy levels up, allows you to think clearly, and produces enzymes that fight infection.
M Y T H # 9
CARDIO IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR WEIGHT LOSS THAN WEIGHT LIFTING
The truth: Cardio is great for health reasons and you will burn calories while doing it. However your biggest concern when you are trying to lose weight is muscle loss. If you lose fat and lose muscle along with it, you have made your future ability to keep the weight off harder. Your aim should be to improve the ratio of calorie in to calorie out combined with our effort to not lose muscle.