We’ve all heard them and some of us will probably spout them on a regular basis but how many of those fitness myths are actually based on truth. We talk to personal trainer Jonny Jacobs to find the top 6 fitness myths you need to stop believing. Now.
MYTH #1: Thou shalt drink protein shakes after training
Yeah, you might look like a fitness pro chugging down your protein shake as you exit the gym but, in truth, there’s often no need. Protein helps repair muscles but, chances are, you’re going to be eating soon after your workout anyway. And if that meal’s going to contain protein – and the likelihood is it will – then save your money.
If you’ve got an hour or more until your next meal, however, then by all means get a shake down you – it can be a useful supplement.
MYTH #2: If you lift weights you’ll end up looking like He-Man’s buffer brother/sister
A quick glance around the gym will prove this one ain’t true – there are plenty of ‘normal’-looking men and women lifting weights.
Weights will help you develop muscles and change your body shape, but you certainly won’t turn into a raging ball of veins and biceps. The guys you see who are big are training and eating in a very specific way to get big – their muscles haven’t happened overnight.
The process is even slower for women, who are less likely to bulk up due to low levels of the muscle-building hormone testosterone.
MYTH #3: If you don’t ache the next day, you didn’t work out hard enough
Ah, the oddly masochistic pleasure of aching muscles… If you’re not feeling stiff as a two-week-dead corpse after you work out though, that doesn’t mean you’ve been slacking.
That post-workout ache is known as delayed onset muscle soreness – DOMS for short. You generally experience DOMS when you try something new, such as a different training program, lifting heavier weights, or even something as simple as running downhill.
However, the human body’s a clever swine: it adapts to stimulus over time, so the pain will lessen, but you’ll still see results.
MYTH #4: Carbs make you fat
The whole “No carbs before Marbs” concept, as popularised by the perma-tanned stars of TOWIE, is, frankly, a load of arse-talk.
Carbohydrates are essential fuel for your body. Hooray! Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should chow down on pasta and mashed potatoes 24-7. The amount of carbs you consume should be based on your energy expenditure. So if you’re sitting at a computer eight hours a day before flopping in front of the telly at night, you’re not going to need those seven bowls of egg-fried rice.
If you do cut carbs from your diet then yes, you will lose weight, as you’re reducing your calorie intake – but the exact same thing would happen if you cut out fat or protein. Your best bet is to eat a balanced diet, get off the sofa and exercise more.
MYTH #5: Sit-ups and crunches will get you a six-pack
If only it were that easy! Doing endless sit-ups will help tone your abdominals, but if you want a six-pack to rival Channing Tatum’s then you need to have a low enough body-fat percentage to show it off.
To put it bluntly, your steely abs are probably hidden under a layer of somewhat-less-steely fat. Aside from the genetically blessed few, the road to a washboard stomach is a long, hard slog of weight training, cardio and clean, healthy eating.
MYTH #6: No pain, no gain!
It may have been the training mantra of grunting ’80s bodybuilders but the whole “No pain, no gain!” thing is total bunkum.
Unless you’re training to be a champion boxer by getting repeatedly punched in the face, pain is a good indicator that it’s time to stop training – right now. Now, that’s not an excuse to quit when things get tough – pain and tiredness are very different things. If you’re new to exercise you need to learn the difference.
Burning muscles and bursting lungs? They’re just part of the deal I’m afraid. Shoulder feels like it’s being wrenched from your body and knee appears to be in some kind of invisible, tightening vice? Yeah, probably best to call it a day.