It’s amazing how when you’re 19 you think you know everything. I had just completed my Certificate IV in Fitness and was a qualified personal trainer. I felt like I knew so much. Then I studied my Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science and started to realise how much I didn’t know! Since then (currently 10 years later!) I strive to keep learning through courses, expos, podcasts and reading. I find the more I learn about exercise and training the more I realise I don’t know. Here are four exercise myths I used to believe:
Myth 1: When you squat or lunge, your knees shouldn’t go past your toes.
This is what I was taught when I studied to be a personal trainer. I remember saying to clients ‘imagine there is an invisible line running from the end of your big toe straight up to the ceiling. Now, make sure your knee does not cross that line’. (insert face palm!) This is outdated and incorrect. The thought was that it was bad for your knees. It’s actually very normal when you do a deep squat for your knees to go over your toes. When you do a deep squat your knees have to go over your toes, otherwise you’re more likely to round the lumbar spine.
Myth 2: If you do your cardio fasted, you will burn more fat.
This very popular fitness myth actually gets me quite irked. Probably because if I personally do this I feel yuck. Dizzy, light headed, weak, headachy and lethargic. I need food to function! So I feel very sympathetic now if other people who don’t know better are doing this and feeling as yuck as I would feel. Contrary to popular belief there is no benefit to doing cardio in a fasted state. It will not enhance fat loss. Yes during fasted cardio you do burn more fat as a fuel source during exercise compared to fed cardio. However it’s not important how much fat you burn during exercise, that’s short-sighted. What’s important is how much fat you burn over a 24-hour period. It’s the energy deficit that’s created over a 24-hour period that results in fat loss. You will lose as much fat from doing fasted cardio to non-fasted cardio as long as the energy deficit is the same. There are heaps of studies which prove this. Here is a fantastic one you might like to take a look at. In this study two groups of female participants followed a reduced calorie diet. They both did 3 1-hour steady state aerobic training sessions each week The group which performed their hour long cardio sessions fasted had no difference in body composition changes compared to the group which had a shake before doing their sessions.
If there is a fitness person you follow on social media who swears by fasted cardio, it is just their exercise routine and what they eat which is giving them their amazing body. There is not anything magical about walking in a fasted state. Ask yourself does this person have any exercise science qualifications? I highly doubt it. I have never heard anyone who has spent much time studying exercise science or physiology endorsing fasted cardio as a superior fat burning tool. So bottom line is: fasted low-intensity exercise is fine if you enjoy it, but it has no superior fat burning benefit to fed low-intensity exercise. Do whichever you prefer.
Myth 3: Weights will make you bulky.
Weight training will may you lean and toned, not chunky. If you are doing weight training and your clothes are getting tighter it is your diet that is the problem. Weight training may make your body weight go up slightly, partially if you are already a very lean person without much fat to lose. However because muscle weighs more than fat you will get smaller. Your girth measurements will reduce with weight training, unless of course you are eating at a calorie surplus. Then you will be gaining fat.
Myth 4: If you’re not sore the day after a workout, it wasn’t effective.
It’s very common to get muscle soreness 24-48 hours after a workout which is new for you, you are unaccustomed to or is more challenging than normal. This is known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). However, just because you don’t get DOMS after a workout doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a good workout. Studies show that soreness itself is a poor indicator of muscle adaptation and growth.
Let me know if any of these myths surprise you!
Yours in science and health,