Guest post by Paul Dunn, Personal Fitness Trainer at Pegasus
One of the major challenges one faces in the fitness industry is the huge number of training myths. These fallacies are fuelled by unfounded emotional opinion, personal beliefs, but in the main by television infomercials. However, the world of health and fitness is based on proven scientific principles not gimmicky machines. The anatomy and physiology of the body dictates what will occur in response to exercise. Here are just a few myths you may have heard, which are completely fictional.
Women who lift weights will get big and bulky…. this is just not possible .Women just simply do not have the levels of the male hormone testosterone and human growth hormone required to increase their muscle mass radically. The vast majority of women will only have the means to replace muscle that they have lost naturally since they turned 20. At most, women may achieve an increase of 1-2 kilograms of muscle mass, above and beyond what their genetics predetermine. This is, however, only in a very small percentage of women.
Lift low weights for high reps to ‘tone’… a common misconception closely linked to the fallacy above. Toning is essentially a slang term for adequate amounts of muscle that can be seen under small levels of body fat. Maintenance of muscle, or, an increase in muscle can only happen if the muscle is placed under overload (this is best done with low reps and higher weight).
Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training, in other words, a regular increase in the weight that you are lifting. As your body becomes stronger, as it will in response to a regular weight training regime, you will need to lift more weight to create an overload. Completing the exercise with more repetitions will force your body to endure more weight but there will no longer be an overload. Same old weights = same old results.
You can spot reduce fat from specific areas with certain exercises… does this sound familiar. I’m sure you have heard of machines such as the Ab King Pro which promise you the famous “six-pack” with just three minutes of exercise a day. Unfortunately, this theory is completely mythical and goes against every scientific principle of exercise physiology.
We cannot choose where we want to lose fat. Where from and how quickly is different for each individual depending on your genetics and general body shape. Exercises that work one body part at a time, such as crunches and side leg raises are popular but relatively ineffective. Think of it like this, if you chew gum, you don’t get skinny cheeks!!
Big bang exercises or functional compound exercises are the best exercises to maximize the health and fitness benefits from your regular workouts. Exercises such as press-ups, squats, lunges to name just three. They have great capacity to elevate your metabolism as they require a number of joints to operate efficiently. They therefore burn a lot more calories, which one needs in order to burn off that excess body fat. They also teach all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.
Go on a diet to lose weight…the list of diets are endless – Atkins, cabbage soup, low carb, high fat, and the grapefruit diet just to name a few. All these diets are unrealistic and based on extreme calorific restriction that promotes the loss of muscle. A loss of muscle results in a decreased metabolic rate, which causes extra fat gain long term. The enzymes responsible for the storage of fat in the cell will increase in concentration during a diet, especially in women. This is the body’s protective response, it wants you to survive. In most cases, diets are unsustainable due to the physiological and psychological hardship you experience. Once resuming normal eating, it is likely you will gain extra body fat due your lower metabolic rate and alteration in the fat storage levels. So stay away from these fad diets, and instead think of the words – balance, moderation and sustainability. A good healthy eating pattern should encompass all of these qualities.
Men and women need different exercise programmes… both men and women require progressive overload to stimulate the human body becoming bigger, stronger, or faster than it was before. Progressive overload is the cornerstone of any persons exercise programme regardless of their gender. Therefore men and women’s exercise programmes, including their strength training programmes, should in the main be the same. There are no special exercises that women should do instead of men and vice versa. We have the same muscles and they need to get stronger. The only difference is men have a higher capacity to increase their muscle mass due to higher hormonal levels as discussed earlier.
Paul Dunn, Tailor Made Training, Personal Fitness Trainer at Pegasus Town, Ph: 0211405785
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Qualifications: Bachelor Degree in Physical Education and Executive Personal Training Certificate.
Specialist Areas: Golf and sports specific training, core conditioning, cardiovascular training for weight loss, general fitness and strengthening.