Debunking the biggest fitness myths

Ever heard the old adage that muscle turns to fat, or you’re only burning calories if you’re working up a sweat? Yup, we have too, which is why we spoke to Pierre Louw from My Health and Fitness to debunk the myths that invade gyms the world over.

Pierre knows a thing or two about staying fit and runs, a Cape Town brand that connects trainers and nutritionists with everyday gym-users. Though not a personal trainer himself, Pierre has forged a career working with fitness professionals dedicated to helping people get the right results.

Consider the following myths busted.

Myth #1: You have to do stomach crunches to get sculpted abs

“Almost every client I’ve encountered wants a six-pack,” says Pierre. “The misconception is that you have to do a 1000 crunches a day to get that look.”

In reality, a crunch will work a portion of your midsection, however, you’re better served spending time on exercises that work your entire core.

Louw recommends planking, chin-ups, deadlifts and squats as alternatives to the sit-up. Plus, eating the right food is crucial. “Cut the carbs and the sugar,” he says.

Myth #2: You have to spend hours at a time in the gym

Working out for long periods of time doesn’t mean you’ll see great results. What matters, says Pierre, is intensity. “You can achieve more in a 45-minute session than you can in a 2-hour marathon.”

Keep your intensity high and you can kiss the many hours spent slaving away on the cardio machines goodbye.

Myth #3: A sports drink after gym is good for you

Sports drinks are useful if you’re feeling faint, however, they’re loaded with sugar. When it comes to cutting weight, ridding yourself of fat and staying in shape, sugar is your number one enemy.

“Any good personal trainer will tell you to stick to water,” says Pierre. Unless you’re really in a bad state and feeling dizzy, simple H20 will keep you hydrated and healthy.

Myth #4: You’re only burning calories if you’re working up a sweat

Sweat is the body’s automatic reaction to getting hot and is designed to cool you down. Since everyone reacts to heat differently, it’s no indicator of performance in the gym.

An Olympic powerlifter, for instance, is burning a huge number of calories but he or she might not be sweating at all. That’s because the powerlifter is taking deliberate breaks between sets to recover. The goal here is to build strength, and the person is working incredibly hard, even if he isn’t covered in sweat.

Likewise, sweating buckets full doesn’t mean you’re unfit. It’s simply an automatic reaction that differs from person to person and depends on how high your body temperature is, and how hydrated you are, as much as the intensity of your workout.

Myth #5: Muscle turns into fat

This is a myth that is lurking in gyms throughout the world. The idea is that if you stop working out, all the muscle you accumulate is going to become a big pile of fat in a matter of weeks.

“It’s not true,” says Pierre. “Fat doesn’t turn into muscle, and muscle doesn’t turn into fat.”

Turns out they’re independent of one another. If you stop working out, you’ll certainly lose muscle mass, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get fat.

“When we work out we tend to eat more. As long as you reduce your calorie intake when you take a break, you’ll be fine,” says Pierre.

Connect with Pierre at My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

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Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before trying out a new exercise routine or making drastic changes to your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.

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