Lifestyle: 5 common exercise myths debunked

Fact: As you age your metabolism changes 

Remember when you were 16 and your mum told you to enjoy your metabolism while it lasted as you tucked into your second piece of cake? We do! We reminisce about the days of eating what we wanted, when we wanted and rocking that two piece bikini like no one was watching. And as life would have it, turns out our mums weren’t lying, and a slowing metabolism was not a myth but a fact of ageing.
(Fact: We refuse to stop eating cake…)

Myth: It comes naturally… 

What is a myth are all those celebrity stories of enjoying a model physique while never exercising or watching what you ate (the shock!). So after accepting that gaining the body we desired came down to healthy, clean living and hitting the pavement, we decided to debunk some common exercise myths and who better to turn to than the man responsible for creating long, lean and mean bodies, celebrity trainer Dan Chapman.

With more than 20 years of experience, Chapman, a fat-loss coach and motivator has been helping women create the bodies they desire with less work (yes you read correctly ladies) by debunking common exercise myths by creating workout plans which focus on the use of time and high-intensity training. Time to drop some truth bombs with the man who knows a thing or two about creating a celebrity body …


Myth: Doing hundreds of crunches will give you a flat tummy 

If only it were that simple. I hear this one too many times in my group training and personal clients saying how many crunches they do each night and still see no definition. Or even asking to add more abdominal exercises into the workouts thinking it will make the layer of squige disappear.

Well here is the deal, you can’t spot reduce on an area of your body – as much as we would like to unfortunately. (It’s not going to work). Remember this, you will not see your abs or definition on your thighs etc or anywhere until you burn off the fat which is covering them. Basically you burn off the fat by creating a calorie deficit from your diet and an increased calorie expenditure from your exercise.

In simple terms, eat cleaner and increase your activity. You want abs? Then you gotta sweat and work hard for them. And eliminate bad foods. I would suggest regular interval training workouts at least 3-4 days a week to burn the fat off and would include a lot of transverse and (core conditioning) movements such as jack knives and planks. Also add resistance in your abdominal training using medicine balls (which is my favourite). Or even consider the pilates reformer – this will help build a solid shapley mid section. The key is to approach abdominal training like any other muscle group. So forget the thousand of back breaking sit ups that are a pain in the neck and focus on what really works. A good clean eating plan, adding resistance to your abs training and burning more then you put in!

Myth: Females who train with heavy weights will make them big

Ok so lifting light weights is not going to “tone” you just like lifting heavier weights is not going to “bulk” you.

Whether it is women afraid to get bulky muscles (it won’t happen), if it did my clients would all look like the hulk – or it is magazines saying you need high reps to “tone”. Do yourselves a favour and forget all those magazines with 50 reps of some silly ankle weight leg lift or bicep curls with the little pink weights (I call tooth picks) and go do some heavy squats and eat right and you will be more toned (lean) than anyone reading those magazines.

By the way, when it comes to lifting moderate to heavy weights please do seek expert advice on how to lift correctly and start slow. Once or twice a week then increase when you are more confident and stronger. And remember, muscle is your fat burning furnace, so more muscle (that doesn’t mean bulk) equals more fat burning.

Myth: The longer I workout the more fat I’ll burn 

Ok, so assuming that burning fat is your goal, would that then mean doing more exercise would burn more fat? Unfortunately that’s not always the case. In fact the longer the workout the more chances there are of you burning away some of your lovely muscles which will only end up in actually making you hold onto fat rather than burn it off. So it kinda defeats the object. So let’s make our lives easier and our workouts shorter and ditch those long boring workouts.

I will always tell my clients to focus on short time efficient interval workouts to optimise burning fat. I’m talking about HIIT (high intensity interval training) which will increase your metabolism and cause what is called (the after burn) which in simple terms keeps you burning fat up to 24-48 hours after your workout. This not only melts your fat like a jelly in the desert, this method of exercise also helps you produced lean muscle tissue and gives you a more athletic leaner condition.  \Aim for your workouts to be around 30-45 mins and make sure you stay well hydrated.

Myth: Pilates will give you long lean muscles

I hear and see so often the so called “muscle lengthening” benefits that are preached and how Pilates is amazing for giving you that long lean elegant look that of a dancer. Well, while you may feel taller and stretched out after a fantastic Pilates session (which might I add I do really love and so do my clients), it’s unfortunately totally impossible to lengthen a muscle. So why are almost all Pilates and yoga instructors so tall and slim as well as some of the class goers? Well quite simply they were born that way. They are ectomorphs, which is the scientific word for people born with the longer leaner physique types (lucky them hey).

So my advice is carry on enjoying Pilates and the great benefits like improved flexibility and posture and even feeling a little taller and dancer like, but don’t expect your muscles to appear longer or leaner.

Myth: You should drink 8 glasses of water every day

To be honest, everyone’s requirements are different. There is no one right answer to how much water you personally need, as it depends on each person and their lifestyle/activities. You may need to adjust your water intake depending on how active you are and also how much you have sweated. Obviously we all hear and see the eight glasses a day recommendation on both TV and magazines, but truth is your body may sometimes need more or less water than the recommended eight, especially if you are exercising more often or taking in more water from other sources such as fruit and veggies and even skim milk and juice, these all count and make up a portion of your intake.