Whether you’re a total gym bunny or new to the wonderful world of exercise, making sure your workouts are effective should be your top priority. What’s the point in hauling yourself to the gym if it’s having little to no effect on your body and general health? While you may think that you’re a workout pro, you may need to do some research. Scarily enough, there’s an array of exercise myths for women when it comes to our fitness.
1. Hardcore Cardio is the Only Way to Slim Down
When we’re looking to burn some fat, we all tend to do the same thing, right? We join a gym, hit the treadmill, and run as fast as we can for as long as we can. It seems only logical, after all, since fast-paced exercise is an easy way to burn calories and generally get a killer sweat on.
But is cardio really the holy grail of fat burning exercise? “Absolutely not!” explains Sam Sheldon, an expert personal trainer from Nuffield Health, UK. Contrary to popular belief, she says, there is a whole load of ways you can burn calories and tone up your body. In fact, there’s one particular form of exercise that’s frequently overlooked but will work wonders — resistance training.
“It’s one of the best things that you can do for fat loss,” she explains. “By increasing lean muscle mass you can essentially make your body use fat as a fuel when you are resting. Fat does nothing when it sits on your body apart from take up space and slow us down.
The takeaway is simple. Sure, doing a cardio sesh on a regular basis will help you drop some extra pounds. However, it’s by no means the only (or the most effective) way to slim down.
2. Targeted Fat Loss is a Real Thing
We all have those annoying little problem areas — the ones that seem to plump up overnight but from which you can never seem to shift the fat. It’s no great mystery why the notion of a mystical targeted fat loss routine seems an attractive one.
There’s no quick fix when it comes to weight loss, though; and if you want to get results, you have to work every single area of your body. “Unfortunately doing 300 sit-ups a day will not give you a six pack, and doing 80 bicep curls with a 1 kg dumbbell will not give you guns like Jessica Alba,” explains Sam. “Again, it’s the stubborn fat here that needs moving.”
So, if targeted training is a myth, how on earth can you shift all that pesky weight? Well, it should come as no great surprise that it’s all about combining many different exercises in your workout. “By training smart and using big compound multi-muscle movements that burn a significant amount of energy, you’ll absolutely torch that stubborn body fat!” says Sam. “Some fantastic compound exercises include deadlifts, squats, bench press, and overhead presses.”
3. You Should Cut Carbs When Exercising
“Carbs have got such a bad rap over recent years,” says Sam. “I always recommend when I’m training people for fat loss that one carbohydrate-rich meal is consumed after a HIIT session and then on days with no training, more fats and proteins are consumed.”
If the very idea of carbs strikes fear in your heart, worry not. Eating a balanced diet – that includes carbohydrates — is the easiest way to ensure that your body gets the nutrition it needs. What’s more, doing so is essential when you’re taking on a new workout routine.
“I think often this sort of thing is way over complicated and there is so much conflicting information. I would say, make it simple. Don’t worry about high GI, low GI, complex or simple carbs,” explains Sam. “If you speak to a qualified personal trainer down at your local gym they should be able to advise you on the best approach to take in regard to nutrition based around your training.”
4. Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulk Up
Do you avoid the weights area of the gym? Do you think that lifting is just for guys? Doubtless, the reason so very many women steer clear of this activity is because they fear the dreaded “bulking up” problem. Yikes.
Luckily, this is a myth that you really don’t need to stress about. The reason that men get larger when they start lifting weights is because they have a wealth of testosterone in their bodies which facilitates muscle growth. Since women have far less testosterone, it’s highly unlikely that we will experience the same body changes as men do.
“It totally depends on the woman: her individual body type, biochemistry, previous training history, frequency of training and, of course, most importantly, how much she is eating,” says Sam. “Women don’t produce enough of the growth hormone testosterone to ‘bulk up.’ What we do need to do however is reduce the body fat percentage — that will decrease the ‘bulk.’”
5. The Same Routine Works for Everyone
Finally, here’s one of the most ludicrous exercise myths for women. If you naively think that there’s a one-size-fits-all routine that will work for everyone, you’re sadly mistaken. Every woman out there has a different body type, shape, and metabolism. There’s simply no way that the same exercises will have the same effect on each person.
The bad news is this means there’s an element of trial and error when you first try a certain routine out for yourself. The best advice you can get is to work with an instructor to develop a regime that suits your physique, try it for around a month, and then adapt it more if it’s not quite working for you. It may sound like a lot of hassle but remember: your fitness is a lifestyle choice, not just a fad.