There seem to be plenty of landmines out there when it comes to safe exercise and dieting. Kick the rumours to the curb so that NOTHING is standing in the way of you and the healthier you.
1.) Static stretching decreases the risk of injury.
Static stretching is the basic move of bending over to touch your toes, pulling your ankles towards your hips. Not only is this ineffective at stretching muscles suitably before exercise, but it can actually increase your chance of injury when muscles are relying on a certain stiffness for stability or force. Rather try a lighter version of the workout you are about to practise to warm up relevant muscles, or even 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio for an all-round, effective warm-up.
2.) I’m working out, so I can eat whatever I want and still lose weight.
The total amount of calories burnt in a workout may equal the amount of calories in certain foods, but it’s up to you how you want to expend your calories. Weight loss is a simple equation, where your calories burnt need to extend the amount of calories you have taken in. If you are eating more calories than you are burning off in a day, you are going to gain weight, whether or not chocolate is included in your diet.
3.) Lifting weights makes women look bulky.
Ladies, don’t be scared to push the weights! This is one of the most common and detrimental misconceptions!
Muscles require fuel to operate, so the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. Whilst cardio burns calories throughout the session, strength training will build more lean muscle, therefore burning calories even when your muscles are relaxed. We naturally lose muscle mass as we age, causing our metabolisms to slow down, with weight gain as a result. Strength training is crucial in maintaining and building the muscle mass we need to keep our metabolisms up to speed, helping us to manage our weight.
Women don’t have enough levels of testosterone and human growth hormone to increase lean muscle dramatically. If ladies are looking particularly heavy from weight-training, chances are they are adding some serious supplementation to their diets.
4.) Long-distance cardio is best for weight-loss.
Low-intensity, long-duration workouts do not offer your muscles the same challenge as high-intensity, shorter ones, yet your body can still be pushed beyond its means. The extended time frame means you are putting long-standing stress on your body over time. The shape of a long distance runner will be less defined with little tone, since they have broken down much of their lean muscle, as opposed to the sculpted, defined form of a sprinter. Lower-intensity, longer-duration exercise can even leave you fit and fat, as a result of a slowed metabolism.
5.) Running and squats can damage your knees.
Safe exercise is less about what you are practising and more about how you are practising it. Technique is a crucial element of training, and executing your squats correctly will only strengthen your joints:
– Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart. You can keep your arms extended in front of you or on your hips.
– Keeping your back straight and eyes looking ahead, slowly bend your knees to a 90° angle. Breathe in as you squat, lowering your rear as you would into a chair.
– Slowly rise up to the starting position, exhaling as you rise.
The same is true of running. Wearing the correct footwear, replacing them when worn out, incorporating strength-training and rest days into your routine and treating rehab injuries effectively can only improve your joint health. Make sure you are wearing running shoes, not cross-trainers, and if you are heavier, start with a slower pace, gradually increasing over time. If your feet are either particularly flat or have high arches, investigate ergonomic footwear and suitable insteps to correct your stance.
6.) Ab exercises are all you need for great abs.
If only it were that simple! There is no such thing as spot training. Sit-ups alone are not the answer for that six-pack, nor will isolated squats sculpt your dream butt. Fat loss throughout the body depends on genetics, sex, and age, and overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area.
7.) Weight gain is inevitable as you age.
No, what’s inevitable is that after the age of 25, we lose muscle mass each year. This means that our metabolisms slow down with age if we do not build lean muscle. For this reason, strength training is crucial in keeping up our levels of lean muscle mass, and so preventing weight gain as we age.
8.) Weighing yourself is the best way to measure your progress.
Any exercise goals should be aimed towards health, not weight loss, and your efforts should include LOSING excess fat and GAINING lean muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat but is 22% smaller, making your scale an inaccurate tool when it comes to monitoring your progress. Keep your eye on the fit of your clothes; progressive before and after pictures are also a fool-proof indicator of your success.
9.) Low-carb diets are effective for weight-loss
Don’t cut the carbs! Even though you may initially drop kilos, low carbs for more than seven days can deplete the stored carbs in your muscles, known as glycogen. This can then burn muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism. Up your carb intake at least one day each week to replenish these reserves. The body needs glucose in the form of carbs and starches to function and provide energy. The body cannot change protein into glucose, so it goes into the fat stores and muscle stores and starts to break them down. Too many amino acids of protein also leave us acidic, causing our bodies to use precious calcium stores to neutralise it.
10.) Exercise causes you to eat more.
Exercise can certainly increase your appetite, as your metabolism has kicked in. Your body is burning calories and asking for more. Whether this makes you eat more depends on your habits. It is important to listen to your body and eat healthy foods at regular intervals. Try not to use these hunger pangs as an excuse to over-indulge, or eat high fat and sugary foods.