When it comes to losing fat, and even gaining muscle, people tend to look immediately to the media for the ‘newest product’ to hit the market that will help them shed those extra kilos. They look for a quick and easy way to get it done in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of effort possible.
The problem with this, is that the media and companies market their products, making these outrageous claims which the majority of people fall so easily for. This just perpetuates the stereotypes and makes it harder and harder for the public to know the ‘truth.’
Hopefully after reading this, you should be a bit more enlightened with regards to these 4 common fitness myths which many people are not aware of.
1. The magic formula exists
“The secret to success is… no secret. It’s called work your ass off and find a way to add more value to peoples lives than anyone else does!” ~ Anthony Robbins
There is no magic formula. There is no quick and easy way to get what you want. Sure some people manage to develop some aspects quicker than others, but remember we all have our own strengths and we shouldn’t compare our progress to other peoples. Just ensure you are getting better and better each day. It’s YOU versus YOU. At the end of the day it’s all about trying, and putting in the effort on a consistent basis and never giving up when it gets tough.
2. The one perfect diet/training programme
Too often people read magazines and articles and want to see the exact training programmes and diets of some of the big named athletes in the hope that if they follow those programmes to the T, they will work for them just as they have worked for those athletes. Unfortunately there is no, one perfect diet or training programme. If there was we could all just follow Phil Heath’s gym routine and diet and we would all be huge.
Each person is different in every aspect, from the way each one of us looks, to the way we each react to certain exercises and foods. So what’s the answer? There is no straight cut answer.
There are basic principles which everyone can follow when it comes to exercises and eating right, but for the most part you have to figure out, through experimentation, what works best for you. Your diet and training programme needs to be specifically tailored for your body and your goals.
The easiest example to take into account is your weight. If you weigh, let’s say 70 kilogrammes, you cannot just suddenly start eating the amounts of food that a 100 kg bodybuilder eats and expect the same results as him. Well you can but you would most likely end up gaining a lot of extra fat. So keep this in mind when putting together an eating plan or gym routine for yourself.
3. Muscle can turn into fat
Let’s get something straight. Fat and muscle are 2 independent tissues. Fat is fat and muscle is muscle. One cannot turn into the other. So many people tend to see big bodybuilders and immediately make the comment “Oh no, when he gets old all that muscle is going to turn into fat, so he better be careful becoming so muscular.” Building and losing muscle are both individual processes, just as is gaining and losing fat.
So for instance, you can build/maintain muscle and lose fat, or you can slowly continue to build muscle while keeping your fat level the same. The point to see here is that each is an individual process which you have to enable and force your body to do, by adjusting your training and diet to suit the process that you want to take place.
So the reason why some bodybuilders become fat when they are old is most commonly due to them stopping their training, or their training intensity drops significantly. The result is that they start to lose some of their muscle mass, and they then start to gain some body fat since they are not training enough to burn through the amount of calories which they ingest over a period of time.
4. Spot reduction is easy
Spot reduction is the ability to lose fat in a precise area or part of one’s body by doing muscle specific exercises for the targeted area. So for example, many women say they want a flatter tummy, and immediately they want to do endless amounts of sit ups and crunches in the hope of shedding that belly fat. Unfortunately that does very little in losing that unwanted fat.
What needs to be understood, is that when you perform those exercises (e.g. sit ups for abs, or even bicep curls for biceps) you are working that specific MUSCLE. You cannot ‘exercise fat.’ So what you are doing is actually working and ultimately strengthening and building your targeted muscle.
To lose fat you need to control your diet and your calorie expenditure so that you burn off more calories than you take in. So in your quest of burning off that belly fat, those sit ups and crunches are not burning that many calories to really make such an impact to lose that fat. Losing fat needs to be seen as an overall progression. What this means is, you cannot really pinpoint on your body where you want to lose fat from. You have to gradually reduce your calories and increase your energy expenditure in order to burn off those excess calories. And in turn your genetic make up will mostly determine where you lose fat first and in what order you continue to lose from.
The upside is that, you can enhance your shape and develop your muscles in the process by weight training your specific muscles.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Barbells are the tools in which we use to train and sculpt our bodies.”