The world of fitness can be a confusing place and the rise of social media has now made misinformation spread even further. We debunk 5 of the most common fitness myths that personal trainers hear in the gym and explain why you should ignore them.
You get a flat stomach by doing crunches
Hopefully you will have heard this repeated a lot by now, but you can't 'spot reduce' a part of your body. What this means is that doing crunches and sit ups won't necessarily give you a flat stomach and doing lots of squats won't necessarily give you shapely legs.
In reality, you need to do a healthy mix of cardio and weight training in order to reduce your overall body fat which will in turn slim you down, while full body workouts will help build muscle in key areas therefore giving you a 'toned' appearance.
Unfortunately, you can't choose where your body loses weight first and it will happen differently for different people. Things like genetics and hormones play a huge part and this is why some people have a thicker stomach and small legs while other people have a tiny waist but bigger legs. In order to attain your dream body, you need to eat a healthy diet which balances your hormones and live an active lifestyle which will condition your body.
While it's not true that doing sit ups and crunches will give you a flat stomach, it is true that you can change the shape of your body with the right training and consistency.
Runners don't need to do weight training
This couldn't be further from the truth. If you want to be a great runner and improve your performance, it's hugely important for you to do regular cross training, which should include weight training at the gym.
While running lots of miles is of course important for runners, it's also paramount that you strengthen your muscles and increase your power so that when it comes to running uphill or running long distances, your muscles have the strength and power to carry you. In addition to this, core work is equally important as a strong core will help you reach the finish line just as much as strong legs.
Read more: Cross Training Workout For Runners
Eating after 6pm will make you gain weight
There's some interesting logic behind this myth and it's possible to see why some people might believe that it is true. Of course, your body doesn't need a big intake of energy in the evening if you are just going to be sitting at home and then going to bed. In this instance, a light dinner is indeed better for you but it doesn't mean that eating after 6pm will 'make you fat'.
The reason it's advisable not to get into the habit of eating too late is because people fall into the trap of mindlessly snacking in front of the TV and taking in way more calories than they need.
However, if you do an intense gym workout or run after work or just have a very active life, you should definitely eat afterwards to refuel and replenish any nutrients that you lost. This means you should definitely be eating after 6pm and that it will be critical to seeing results and not becoming injured.
In reality, the only thing that will make you gain weight is eating in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you expend in a day). If this means eating too much in the morning, afternoon, or evening the results will be the same.
The gym is full of athletes who know what they're doing
It's very common for people to find the gym daunting and not to go regularly for fear of being ridiculed by ripped bodybuilders who know everything there is to know about fitness. Quite the contrary is true, you may be surprised to learn. Many people at the gym don't have an inside out knowledge of fitness and are simply copying exercises they've seen on social media or that they've seen other people doing.
Everyone at the gym is in the same boat and are trying to achieve the same goals. Don't feel insecure or intimidated. If someone tries to intimidate you, it's just as rude as if they were rude to you in any other scenario and certainly won't be tolerated by gym staff. Just remember that everyone is on a level playing field and no one has any more power than anyone else within the gym.
You should copy what social media influencers do at the gym
This is a relatively new phenomenon, but people have started to realise they can build quite a following on social media but they don't necessarily have any credentials to back up their claims and most of the time are simply fishing for views and likes. As such, you may well see some wacky and unusual things on social media being touted as 'fitness'.
It's important to check out the background of someone you are following if you are going to take what they say as gospel and make sure they know what they're talking about. Don't copy a crazy routine or exercise just because someone has a lot of followers.