A new year brings new resolutions and joining or renewing a gym membership is one of the most popular. However, falling off the wagon weeks after is also common and one of the top reasons for this is that we simply don’t have the right knowledge about fitness and training.
With so much conflicting information on fitness and training available on the internet, it can be hard to separate what’s fact and what’s fiction. Inevitably, we end taking the fiction as gospel as demonstrated by a new poll by PureGym, one of the nation’s best loved gym franchises.
The survey revealed some of the most common gym misconceptions believed by gym goers in the UK.
Most common misconceptions about training (% according to gym managers)
- Cardio is the number one way to lose weight: 71%
- Lifting weights will result in a bulky physique: 71%
- Women should do different exercises to men: 43%
- Not feeling sore means you didn’t get a good workout: 34%
- If you don’t sweat you didn’t work out properly: 20%
- You shouldn’t do cardio on the same day as weight training: 8%
So, if the above facts are all untrue, what are we supposed to be doing to achieve our health and fitness goals? We talked to the experts from PureGym to explain how these misconceptions have come about and why these myths aren’t true to help you make your progress more effectively.
Myth 1 – Cardio is the number one way to lose weight
Why do we believe it? Because cardio (aerobic exercises) like running, cycling, swimming, is a great way to increase your energy levels to aid in weight loss. When comparing jogging to lifting weights, the former is a more accessible option for many. Coupled with the common belief that cardio is superior in burning calories versus weight training and the worry some people still have that lifting weights can make you bulky, we can see why this has become a popular gym myth.
Why isn’t the myth true? “If your goal is weight loss it’s important to remember that you will likely not only be burning fat but losing muscle mass too. By including weight training into your routine alongside cardiovascular activities you can help to offset the rate of muscle mass loss. Your muscle mass can influence your metabolic rate, which influences how many calories you naturally burn at rest. Therefore, although cardio does appear superior over weight training in regard to initial calories burnt, weight training has been shown to increase the calories burnt after an initial exercise period. Plus, weight training also provides lots of other health benefits that you may not get from cardiovascular exercise, such as improving strength and bone density. Ultimately weight loss is dependent on energy balance. You need to be in an energy deficit to lose weight. Other elements like nutrition, recovery, sleep can impact weight loss so these should also be considered.”
“Weight training also provides lots of other health benefits that you may not get from cardiovascular exercise, such as improving strength and bone density”
Myth 2 – Lifting weights will result in a bulky physique
Why do we believe it? Many people may have heard the word “bulking” thrown about which is commonly used to refer to a phase of building muscle by burning less calories than you eat. We tend to default to weight training being a means to only increase muscle size, rather than helping to shape and tone or strengthen.
Why isn’t the myth true? “Despite the growing popularity of females’ weight training, I still find many females worry about this, but science shows that women do not have the same testosterone levels to build the same amount of muscle as men. Building muscle doesn’t happen overnight.
Beginners may initially have the advantage to build muscle at a faster rate than experienced lifters (also known as newbie gains), but they will often see the rate of growth slows down as they become more experienced.
If you’ve noticed just after working out in the gym that the body parts you’ve worked feel larger, this feeling can often be mistaken for being muscle gain but is usually a result of blood being pumped to the area. This usually wears off about an hour after training and is most likely not a change in muscle mass.”
Myth 3 – Women should do different exercises to men
Why do we believe it? Because men and women have different hormonal and physical make-ups, which can lead us to believe that what we can do with our bodies has to be different too.
Why isn’t the myth true? “While men and women may have different preferences on which body parts they want to focus on and train, our genetic makeup is the same (we’re humans after all) so I don’t see why women and men should have to perform different exercises. The exercises you choose should be based on your personal preference, needs and goals and not be defined by your gender.”
“There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and hurting yourself so make sure to find that right balance.”
Myth 4 – Not feeling sore means you didn’t get a good workout
Why do we believe it? Because sometimes feeling achy is a sign that you’ve pushed and put stress on your muscles, but it’s not the only sign of an effective workout.
Why isn’t the myth true? “Muscle soreness comes from microtears in muscle, mostly from new exercise or stimulus. You will usually feel a lot of muscle soreness when starting a new programme or exercise regime as your body is pushed beyond what it is used to. These microtears are necessary for your muscles to grow but require adequate rest and nutrition for your body to repair and re-build your muscle fibres. The stronger you get and the more your body adjusts to the new stimulus, the less soreness you will experience so that’s not to say you didn’t get a good workout. You shouldn’t be feeling sore after every workout and you certainly shouldn’t feel pain. There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and hurting yourself so make sure to find that right balance.”
Myth 5 – If you don’t sweat, you didn’t work out properly
Why do we believe it? For many of us, sweating appears to be a great indicator that the exercise we’re doing is effective because it’s a sign we’re working hard.
Why isn’t the myth true? “Sweating is just a response to an increase in your core temperature and is your body’s way of cooling down. Some people may naturally sweat more than others and some people may find they don’t sweat much, so it isn’t necessarily a measure of how hard you worked.”
Myth 6 – You shouldn’t do cardio on the same day as weight training
Why do we believe it? Because some research shows mixing up your workouts in the same session without a proper recovery time can limit the benefits you get from each.
Why isn’t the myth true? “It’s okay to perform cardio and weight training on the same day, as long as this is based around your needs and goals but give yourself enough time to rest and get adequate nutrition. There are athletes and gym goers who do cardio and weight training on the same day. Ultimately, how you train, and your exercise selection should be based around what’s best for you and your goals.”