Fitness Myths Unravelled
I’ve eaten too much - must do a longer workout!
I have to confess, that’s what I used to think! It surely makes sense that if you’ve eaten more calories, you need to exercise for longer to burn it off? Studies have shown that this isn’t actually the case. Although it’s true that when we exercise we burn calories, there is a point at which our bodies start burning fewer calories. The point at which this happens varies from person to person.
So what can we do to burn off those extra calories we’ve binged on? Here are a couple of simple ideas:
- Try to schedule regular workouts to ensure a constant approach to calorie burn
- Instead of trying to do longer workouts, make the last 10 minutes or so more intense and push yourself harder
You need to lift the heaviest of weights to get the biggest gains
Whenever I’ve been to the gym and watched in ore at the biggest, muscular people lifting weights, then scurried off into my corner, I’ve always assumed they must be lifting the heaviest of weights. Surely that’s logical? Various studies have shown that the theory isn’t quite as simple as that. One such study involved volunteers who were asked to perform equal sets of varying reps. One group would lift more weight whilst the other groups went lighter but performed a greater number of reps. Interestingly, muscle growth for all groups was very similar. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t lift heavier weights. Instead, mix it up a little and don’t be afraid to go lighter if you need to. Research has shown this won’t result in loss of muscle. Lifting lighter can bring about a range of other benefits, including improved mind-muscle connection and less risk of injury, which may in turn lead to less missed workouts and more frequency for even greater gains.
If I stop working out, my muscle will turn to fat!
This is a common misconception. It’s true to say that if you stop exercising and working those muscles it’s likely that your body will change in some way shape or form. Without use, the muscles will reduce in size and if you become more sedentary, it follows that fat percentage may increase - depending on diet. Many may deduce from this that the change in lifestyle will result in their muscle turning to fat. Research shows that this is not the case. Muscle tissue and fat tissue are completely different and one does not convert to the other. Muscle tissue continuously burns calories whereas fat tissue stores excess energy. So although they share energy, they work independently. Muscle size will decrease over time without use and this in turn will reduce the demand for fuelling muscle with what we eat. When we have surplus ‘fuel’ from food we’ve eaten, our bodies convert that into fat and the more surplus ‘fuel’ we have, the more our fat cells grow and increase in number.
So what conclusion have I drawn from this? My muscles won’t turn into fat if I stop my workouts but if I neglect my muscles and eat more than my body needs for energy, fat cells will increase. Best keep my muscle energy needs high!