Fact or Fiction

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In today’s crazy world where everyone seems to have different views and opinions about exercising a certain way or eating certain foods can often lead us to frustration and can leave us with a sense of hopelessness. You don’t have to be a personal trainer or know everything about nutrition to gain some knowledge in helping yourself achieve your ideal physique or to improve your health. The fact is that people will listen to anyone about working out or dieting if they themselves are clueless about this subject. Be weary on who you approach when seeking answers to your questions and keep in mind that not all employees or personal trainers in health clubs are knowledgeable in this field. I know that I often come across health club employees that have absolutely no clue what they are talking about. We have to keep in mind that a question can be asked and answered by anyone even if they are not creditable. I will unveil some of the top fitness myths that are often talked about that will help you ensure your confidence when setting up your training and nutrition plan.

The first myth that I will discourse is what I like to call the 6-Pack Abs myth. There are so many questions that rise from this subject like, “will doing a thousand crunches a day make me have a 6-pack?” This is definitely a big NO and the amount of crunches you do within a day or week has zero correlation on whether you will have abs or not. If you look at a muscle chart of the human body, everyone has the same number of muscles and muscle groups that make up the muscular system. Whether you train your abs or not, you have them. The hardest part of getting your abs to show has to do with your diet and the percentage of body-fat you hold. Lets face the facts, if it was as easy as performing crunches everyday to get a 6-pack, then more people would have a great mid-section. One of my favorite sayings that I hear in the fitness industry is that, “abs are made in the kitchen, and not the gym.” This is completely true!

This next popular myth of Calorie- counting says that the number of calories you consume in a day will determine whether you lose weight or not. It does make sense that the fewer calories you take in, the more you’ll lose. This myth is proven false because of the glycemic index or the GI. The glycemic index is the ranking of different carbohydrates and the effect it has on our blood glucose levels. I like to compare eating a sweet potato containing 100 calories and eating a candy bar that also contains 100 calories to help my clients understand the differences amongst calorie sources. The sweet potato in comparison to the candy bar is very low on the glycemic index, which means that it causes very little fluctuation in our blood sugar levels. Insulin is the key hormone that plays an important role in stabilizing the blood glucose levels in our bodies. Eating foods high on the GI will cause your pancreas to secrete insulin into your bloodstream to lower and stabilize the increased blood glucose level. When this happens, your body holds onto stored fat and makes it difficult to lose weight. Be smart about your food choices and maintain a steady balance of low GI carbohydrates, protein, and fats for optimal fat-loss!

This third myth I chose to discuss particularly brainwashes females over males because of what our society considers acceptable when it comes to having muscle mass. I’m sure almost everyone has heard that lifting weights will make you look bulky. I like to call this misconception the Incredible Hulk myth. In my initial orientations with my female clients, almost all of them tell me that they do not want to train with heavy weights or even weights at all in fear of becoming bulky. Well the fact is that you will not blow up into the incredible Hulk by lifting heavy. Studies have shown that increases in muscle mass will help burn more calories which can aid in fat-loss when guided by a proper diet. Keep in mind that the key hormone to increase muscle mass is testosterone. Although females do have levels of this hormone, it is such a minimal amount that lifting heavy will not drastically result in muscle growth. The testosterone levels in males are 20 to 30 times higher than in females. Also note that someone who carries more muscle mass will appear bulkyif they carry a noticeable amount of fat on top of muscle. So once again, your diet factors into this equation.

The next myth highlights a topic that I often find myself getting into an argument over. There isn’t a definite time limit on how long a training session should last; and this is where the myth about Over-training comes into play. People think that training for hours in the gym is what separates those with ‘perfect’ figures and those who do not. The actuality of this myth is that there is such thing as spending too much time in the gym. Training harder and longer is not the answer in obtaining faster results. Spending relentless hours training will actually hurt your body and stunt muscle growth. Depending on how long you train, over-training causes deterioration of your muscles. It takes years of hard work and dedication to build quality muscle mass so over-training should be avoided at all costs. Proper recovery time is also crucial in muscle repair after a workout so consider this factor, as well as the time you will spend in the gym. In other words, train smarter and not harder! If you find yourself exceeding over an hour in the gym, you may want to re- evaluate your training regimen.

Cardiovascular exercise is known to help shed fat; and so we find ourselves on that piece of cardio equipment we love so much for an hour or even more. Does this sound like anyone you know? I call this the Crazy-Cardio myth and goes along with over-training. Spending hours doing cardio will NOT result in shedding fat. Not only are you wasting time, but you are also driving yourself crazy! So this myth states that, “doing hours of cardio will result in quicker results.” This is a false statement and studies have shown that short and high-intensity cardio will not only preserve muscle but also keep you burning calories up to 24 hours after your cardio session.

There are many more myths that rumor the fitness setting, but I find that these are the top 5 myths that are talked about the most and that I find the most important. Knowing the facts about proper nutrition and training is the key factor in your journey to achieving the goals you desire. The ability to point out your own weakness is a necessary part in planning out a diet or workout plan. You can avoid certain cravings, such as sweets, by finding an alternative food choice that does not interfere with your meal plan. I consider knowledge to be power; putting forth a little effort in researching which myths are true or false will take you a step closer to your destination. Set a direct path in your workout and diet plan from these myths that I have uncovered and be confident that having this knowledge will get you the results you seek!

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