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Busting 7 Fitness Myths

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At Fit to Last, we meet people who have been trying for years to lose weight and/or get fitter but have failed with everything they’ve tried. Often this is because they have had misconceptions (myths) that have scuppered them. We have found that dispelling those misconceptions is important for a successful outcome.

Here are the truth about seven common fitness myths: 

Myth 1 – Calorie cutting equals fat loss

Calorie cutting is often the approach to losing body fat. But when you decrease your calorie intake too much or too long, your body will hold onto body fat instead of losing it. This is because your body will view the decreased calorie intake as a resource limit and decrease your metabolism to conserve energy.

Your body will also start using other resources for energy (i.e. muscles). This can lead to looking “skinny fat”, where you lose weight and muscle tone.

Avoiding processed foods and managing portion sizes is the key to losing body fat. This way, you get the right quantities of protein, mixed fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats to lose body fat while retaining muscle mass.

For help managing portion sizes, a free guide is available to help you determine the right quantities of protein, fats, fruits, and vegetables you need to consume to lose body fat. 

Myth 2 Carbs are the enemy

With the growing number of diets, the common element among most is that you must eliminate something to accomplish the intended goal. And usually, the culprit is to be eliminated or drastically reduced in carbs.

And, yes, some carbs are unhealthy. Things like cakes and biscuits. Ultra-processed carbs are unhealthy and should be avoided if possible. But, in small quantities, things like brown pasta, brown rice, and other wholemeal items are important in a healthy eating regime.

In addition to providing the daily energy you need to function, carbs help you maintain lean muscle. When you work out, your body breaks down muscle tissue. When you recover from a workout, your body will build muscle tissue to repair and adapt muscle broken down during the workout. You get stronger when you build more muscle tissue than you break down.

Myth 3 Eating fats makes you fat

Dietary fats have long been the nutritional whipping boy regarding the causes of excess body fat.

Some fats are bad, namely trans-fats. Trans fats can be found in deep-fried foods and processed cakes and biscuits. These are the ones you want to avoid and can contribute to increased body fat, not to mention a host of other health conditions.

But good fats; like butter, nuts, olive oil and avocado; in balanced quantities will help you maintain a lean and healthy physique.

These good fats are responsible for helping your body produce hormones, prevent heart disease, and manage blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Hormone production is essential because, when you work out, you’re putting pressure on your body to help elicit a small change. That small change is executed through hormones, which is why hormone production is so important.

Don’t leave good fats out of your diet – you’ve got far too much to gain from keeping them in!

Myth 4 The more you exercise, the fitter you’ll get

Common thinking is if you want to improve your fitness and you’re exercising already, all you need do is more of the same. However, for your fitness to improve, your body needs new challenges to adapt to. Doing the same workout repeatedly means your body won’t change.

For example, even if you increase your weights weekly during resistance training, you’ll need to change your movements every 4-6 weeks.

Myth 5 Lifting heavy weights makes you bulky

The idea that lifting heavy weights leads to bulging muscles has been a long-held myth. It isn’t true because big muscles can only be built when weight training is partnered with vastly increased calorie intake. Getting ‘bulky’ means gaining muscle and weight at the same time.

Gaining lean muscle means your weight may not increase, but your body composition changes – your muscle increases while your body fat reduces. Gaining lean muscle means you won’t look bigger.

So, unless you add an extra 2800 plus calories a week alongside your weight training regime, all you’ll get from lifting weights is a lean, strong, healthy body.

Myth 6 To run faster, you need to run more often

If you go past any local park on a Saturday morning, you’ll see people hoping to run faster by repeating the same routine, hoping for a different result.

To run faster, you need to do two things:

  • Increase capacity to push your cardiovascular system.
  • Increase your strength to produce greater force with each running stride.

You need to add interval training to your run programme to increase capacity. The point here is to run for short bursts of uncomfortably fast pace with sufficient recovery to maximise
each interval effort.

To increase strength, add resistance training to your running programme. Resistance training means specific exercises with some form of resistance to increase muscular strength, power, size or endurance. For example, squats, lunges, press ups and planks. Adding full-body resistance training improves your strength to generate more force when you run. You’ll also improve joint resilience and stability to help prevent injury.

The added benefit of improved stability is you’ll run more efficiently. You’ll get more out of your runs because your body will be more robust to hold you up when you become tired during your run.

If you add the two steps above to your current run programme, along with consistent practice, you’ll become a faster runner.

Myth 7 Exercise is the key to changing your body

A common approach to changing your body is to start a fitness programme only. But even if you work out daily, your results will be limited and short-term if you don’t pay attention to your nutrition and recovery. Healthy and consistent eating habits and effective sleep, not exercise alone, will yield the largest changes to your body.

You have 168 hours each week. Here’s a quick chart to illustrate the different time commitments of working out three times a week, eating and sleeping contribute toward the goals you want to achieve.

We’re not saying that exercise won’t help the process along. But, to change your body in a lasting way, preparing and eating healthy meals, quality recovery through sleep, and a progressive training programme will always yield a better result than exercise alone.


James Staring is the founder and lead fitness coach at Fit to Last Personal Trainers.

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