No pain, no gain – not our words, but that of every fitness guru from Mr Motivator to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. However, it’s not entirely true. Sure, feeling the burn to some extent can be the sign of a solid workout, but crippled limbs aren’t the end goal of a circuit.
And that’s not the only bit of misinformation to sound the #fakenews klaxon. Here we correct the worst fitness advice we’ve ever heard to get your workouts working better.
Fitness Can Promote Spot-Reduction
Spot reduction: sounds like a Clearasil slogan, actually a so-called method of removing fat from problem areas. Except, it doesn’t work.
Without liposuction, the body draws fat from different areas at various rates depending on a genetically-inherited metabolism. The best solution is a balanced regime that works all areas – including the lumpy and not so lumpy bits – with equal vigour.
Swap Protein Meals For Protein Bars
Body-sculpting diets take work, dedication and often the advice of a nutritionist. Simply replacing protein-packed meals with protein bars won’t work in the same way, whatever the packaging says.
Such foodstuffs are often highly processed and thus require fewer calories to digest, meaning there’s little benefit in the way of weight management.
Ignore the myths and shortcuts, and aim for a diet that’s high in protein with plenty of natural ingredients and vegetables.
Toning Is For Women, Building Is For Men
Don’t let gender norms affect your gym objectives. A leaner build is desirable regardless of your sex.
Toning aids overall fitness and helps dial down mass for those after a sleeker physique – understandable if overexposure to greased-up reality TV bods has put you off bulking for a while.
Light Weightlifting Increases Muscle Definition
Lifting light weights won’t build muscle mass no matter how much you pump, you’ll just burn calories. Even if there are small muscles beneath the body fat, they’re not going to grow.
When looking for noticeable gains, it’s important to ramp up the weight rather than the repetitions to cause the muscles to rip and repair larger. Before long those biceps below will begin to bulge.
(Related: The More Muscle Now Workout)
Yoga Will Shred Your Body
There are plenty of pros to be gleaned from yoga, but it won’t build a six pack alone.
A standard session stretches and elongates muscles, which does indeed aid muscle definition, but most ripped yogis lift weights in addition to a few sun salutations.
More Sweat Means You’re Burning More Fat
‘Sweat is just your fat crying’ – so says the Facebook meme. While breaking a sweat is a good sign of exertion, fat is stored within the body, and a beading brow won’t dissolve it.
Put it this way: turning up the radiator to full blast might make you hot, but it certainly won’t make you shredded. The same rule applies in the gym (though that’s no excuse to take it easy). Sweat should be a byproduct, not the aim.
Big Muscles Make You Strong
World’s Strongest Man contests aside, bulging muscles aren’t always boulder-shifting material. There’s a clear difference between building big muscles and strong ones.
While athletes usually aim for peak strength and power, bodybuilders tend to focus on muscle mass and aesthetics. It all comes down to the training method, so choose wisely.
Crunches Build A Six Pack
Well, kind of. We’re all born with abdominal muscles, but a layer of fat to the stomach hides them away. While crunches do indeed work this area, if you’re not below 10% body fat, you’ll never see your abs.
Instead, focus on high-intensity workouts that will burn fat around the middle and get your diet in order. Soon enough, your stomach’s winter blanket will be burnt down to the foundations of a solid summer six-pack.
(Related: The Six-Pack Moves That Beat Sit-Ups)