Girls lifting weights?! Absolutely not, they’ll look way too masculine! Eating before your morning workout? Big no-no. And, obviously it’s easy to tone muscle – just add a few extra crunches into your workout and, voila, toned AF, right?
Wrong. If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’ve probably heard these common myths over and over again. But, don’t be fooled. These somewhat little white lies can be hugely damaging to your progress and set you on the wrong path – not what you want when you’re trying to smash your goals.
In a bid to bust the most common training myths, we asked Grenade® ambassador and fitness coach Adam Parr to set the record straight and reveal the truth on how you should be training and how you shouldn’t.
1. Fasted cardio burns more fat
"Doing cardio first thing in the morning, before your first meal (fasted) was long believed to be the most optimal way to burn body fat and far superior to fed state cardio. The idea was based on the theory that first thing in the morning you have lower glycogen stores (stored carbs), so if you did cardio first thing you would burn more fat for fuel.
However, more recent studies have shown that although doing cardio fasted may burn fat as fuel during the workout, post workout and for the next 24 hours you will burn less fat. Therefore if you zoom out a little a look at things across a 24 hour period it makes pretty much no difference what time you perform your cardio.
The main factor which underpins whether you will drop body fat or not is whether you’re in a calorie deficit across the week - what time you perform your cardio doesn’t matter. So I would suggest doing cardio when you feel most energised, motivated and when fits in with your daily schedule.
2. You can spot reduce body fat
You can’t just walk into the gym and do hundreds of crunches to improve your stomach or do hundreds of tricep kickbacks to improve your bingo wings. Unfortunately, spot reducing like this doesn’t work. I often say that the best exercise for your abs is a squat or leg press because both of those exercises are two of the biggest lower body compound exercises so they have the biggest caloric burn from training them.
You need to view your body as one entire system. You can’t burn body fat from one limb specifically. Imagine water in the bath tub and reducing the water level is like reducing your body fat. You can’t just take water out from one corner of the bath, you need to bring the whole water level down to reduce it.
3. You can tone muscle
How many times have you heard someone say that their goal is to 'tone up a little'? I hear it all the time in the gym but, what people are actually saying when they say that they want to tone up is 'I want to build muscle and reduce my body-fat'.
So, to get that toned look, you need to focus on two things:
1) Lifting weights to build muscle
2) Reducing your body fat by creating a calorific deficit across the week. A calorie deficit is where you burn off more calories than you consume. Creating a deficit is often a lot harder for people than it sounds because people haven’t got a clue how many calories they consume to start with!
4. HIIT burns more fat than LISS
HIIT (high intensity interval training) in recent years has often been promoted to burn more bodyfat than LISS (low intensity steady state cardio). During LISS cardio, you burn more fat as a fuel source because you’re working at a lower intensity and with HIIT, you burn more carbohydrates as a fuel source. The benefit from HIIT is believed to be in the after burn effect where you burn more calories post session for the rest of the day but, in reality though, this after burn effect is so small…it’s almost irrelevant.
So, I would always advise you to do which form of cardio you enjoy the most and can see yourself adhering to in the long run. The calories burnt from doing HIIT or LISS are going to be very similar and the main focus point of a diet should be creating a calorie deficit across the week not which type of cardio you do.
5. Lifting weights makes women manly
The main hormone involved in building muscle is testosterone and women have on average 20-30 times less testosterone than males, which means its literally 20-30 times harder for females to build muscle.
The chances of women just walking into a gym and, a few weeks later, being bulky are very slim. Any woman that is bulky or manly has either been weight training for a very long period of time religiously or taken some endogenous hormones to assist the muscle building process.
6. Sweating more equals more fat burned
There is a difference between dropping water weight and dropping body fat. You see people running on the treadmill in sweat suits hoping to burn more body fat but unfortunately it doesn’t work like this.
Sweat is your body’s natural mechanism for regulating body temperature when too warm, whereas body fat is stored by consuming a surplus of calories over a period of time - they are different things. Your weight will come down slightly if you sweat for hours during exercise, but this weight will go straight back up when you hydrate again."
So, the moral of the story? Don't believe everything you hear, read or are told. If in doubt, do your research and, most importantly, do what exercise you enjoy and what makes you feel good.
Looking for more training tips? Follow Adam on Instagram for more gym hacks and handy tips. Our blog is also full of weight-based wisdom and ways you can get your sweat on whilst also having fun - check it out!