COMMON EXERCISE MYTHS DEBUNKED
Taking on the task of toning up or slimming down can be daunting, but it all comes down to a very simple notion – eat healthily and embark on lots of exercise, right? Wrong. Well, kind of. With so much conflicting advice, it's a miracle we don't all throw in the towel. However while it's easy to get swept away with new studies and 'expert' reveals, some workout rules will stand the test of time. We've busted some of the classic exercise fables that simply won't go away:
MYTH: CARDIO BURNS THE MOST CALORIES
While we used to think that sweating it out on the treadmill was the key to a lithe physique, weight training is the key to a more defined silhouette. Although cardio burns more calories than resistance training, lifting weights torches more fat overall. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed a strength-training workout for an hour burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than those who skipped the weights. So, while you're stretching, showering, eating and sleeping after that workout, you're continuing to burn fat – win, win!
MYTH: STRETCHING BEFORE A WORKOUT IS BEST
Hands up who remembers group stretches before cross country running in PE? Although our teachers had our best intentions at heart, static stretching actually lowers the elasticity of our muscles, whereas dynamic stretching (while in motion) can prepare our muscles to work and increase their core temperature. While we have been led to believe that stretching is the secret to preventing injury, it turns out that it's not that simple. According to a 2004 review in the journal Sports Medicine, stretching before activities such as cycling or jogging has very little impact yet is vital for preventing injury in sports like football.
MYTH: LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL MAKE YOU BULKY
It's one of the most common misconceptions that keeps women away from the free weights, however becoming bigger through weight training is simply impossible. How? Women's testosterone levels (responsible for building muscle mass) are 15 to 20 times lower than those of men, therefore hormonally speaking we are just not likely to get ‘hench’. Although the bulky look is possible as we've seen on female bodybuilders, this is a result of adding muscle without monitoring your diet or burning fat. As the average gym-goer wouldn't train to the intensity and extremity that they would, it shouldn't be a concern.
MYTH: WORKING OUT FOR HOURS IS THE KEY TO LOSING WEIGHT
The idea of slogging it out for hours in the gym has often been a tortuous task for many and frankly, who has the time? When research proved that doing High Intensity Interval Training for a maximum of 20 minutes was the key to blasting more fat than hours spent exercising, we all rejoiced. Interval training will have a greater impact on your fitness goals as it fires up your metabolism long after your last rep, improving the capacity of your muscles to use up fats and produce energy. The catch? To reap the rewards of a more time-effective workout, you have to give it your all in bursts of 30 seconds or a minute – we mean 110% and completely out of breath, before slowing the pace.