As a Coach and Personal Trainer, I've lost count of how many times I've heard somebody preach something in the gym that may not be quite - or even close to - accurate. This week, I've chosen 5 of the things that I hear most often on and around the gym floor in a bid to hopefully dispel some of these myths for you.
1. Everything has to be hard.
I'll admit that working hard is a huge part of working out, you're not going to get anywhere by always taking the easy route. However, I do have to disagree with those who say that you have to be working hard all of the time. I believe you need to find a balance to truly succeed. Sometimes, it pays to take a step back and focus on something other than taking your body to the very edge. As an example, if you're super-setting two exercises, try decreasing the weight on one of those exercises, choose to focus on technique and mind to muscle connection for a set and see what it does to your performance in the other exercise. Of course, this is a tool to use and not necessarily a rule. It's good to understand what you're getting from back dropping back one exercise or pushing a little more on another. If this is something you're interested to hear a little more about, send me a message and we can have a chat.
2. You must sweat for it to be a good workout.
It's helpful to understand that your body generates sweat in order to regulate your body temperature. When your heart rate rises, your body temperature also rises, causing your body to release a combination of water and salt. This then evaporates, cooling you down. You may see people wearing hoodies whilst doing cardio or turning the heat up in classes like Bikram yoga. Whilst these individuals may leave their session feeling leaner, this is due to a loss of water rather than the burning of more calories, therefore being temporary weight loss. Claims that these sessions burn more calories than a usual workout have not yet been proven effective. Referring back to myth #1, if working hard is not an indicator of a good workout and sweat is a byproduct of working hard, then it can also be assumed that sweating is not required for a good workout.
3. You shouldn't be resting between sets.
A little off-topic, but one of my pet peeves is people bitching about other people sat on their phones in between sets (I said it). For someone like myself, who films the majority of my sets to watch back and improve on my technique, my 1-3 minute rest will be spent watching my last set back. Most of the time, this will be sat on the bench or by the machine I'm using, not because I'm trying to 'hog' the equipment, but because it's convenient and I'd rather not walk away and make it look like the equipment is no longer in use. I don't know where it started but at some point in time, we all became scared to talk to each other on the gym floor. If I want to use a piece of equipment that's in use, I'll go up to that person (between their sets), ask them how many sets they have left and whether they mind me jumping in and out between sets. At some point in time, this became frowned upon. In regards to our bodies needing this rest between sets, when you do an exercise/work a muscle, you use the energy stored within that muscle. This muscle then needs time (between sets), to recoup it's energy stores. Depending on what kind of training you're doing and what your goals are, this rest period will vary. If you do not rest, you will not get stronger, you will not build muscle and in the long run, you will not be able to work as hard.
4. Everybody works out to lose weight or gain muscle.
This is by far my favourite. As a trainer, I get asked multiple times a week what I'm working towards and why I'm working out. Believe it or not, some of us are just here to have fun and enjoy the art of simply being better today than we were last week.
5. Every session needs to have a solid plan.
Some of my favourite and most rewarding sessions have been one without a plan. I'll admit that having a plan has its advantages and for the majority of people, if you don't have a plan for your sessions, you won't see much progress. Having a plan gives you purpose and given that it's been written personally for you, ensures that you're treating your body with the respect that it deserves. If you're new to the gym or a little anxious in a gym environment, a plan is probably the best thing I can advise aside from hiring yourself a coach. Although I generally always have an idea of what I'm going to do in my sessions, occasionally what I've planned won't be possible. I'll plan to do squats and my hips will start playing up, I'll plan to do pull and I'll have forgotten my straps or I'll have planned a big whole body session and the gym floor will be too busy. In these situations, having the skills to adapt and overcome are essential. When you feel confident and comfortable, experiment a little with your programming, it'll be fun and you'll be surprised at how much you learn about your body.
As with all things I talk about, these arguments to current myths generally stem from my own opinions and should be taken with a pinch of salt. 90% of the time, my answer to any question that I'm asked is 'it depends'. It depends on the circumstances, the individual and that moment in time. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything here in more detail, please don't hesitate to comment below or email me at Beth@bethlavisfitness.com.