02 March 2012

Lingering myths about weight training

So how much should you believe that you hear about weight training? Not a lot. Find out what the truth is about this type of training.


So there you are in your gym, simmering in the sauna after the first workout in a week.

What’s more, someone next to you is trotting out a few of the well-worn, shop-soiled clunkers that pass around the gym from time to time.

To refresh your memory, here are the weight-training myths - and what the truth is.

High reps with light weights give you definition. Low reps with heavy weights build bulk: The truth? Your muscles are sophisticated (Not that they go to the opera or read The Economist) and benefit from both light and heavy weights.

Complicated gym equipment is better than free weights.Gym apparatus helps you target specific muscle groups, but free weights – dumbbells and others – are excellent too. Because you’re working against gravity, there’s additional pressure on your body to balance itself. Combining the the apparatus, cardiovascular workout and free weights develops your muscles best.

Crunches turn the fat around your waist into muscle. Nope, sorry. There are two misconceptions here. Firstly, exercise doesn’t convert fat to muscle. Fat is essentially stored energy, converted back into energy by exercise. Secondly, your muscles can’t choose to access the adipose close to them. You ought to lose your belly as you lose weight everywhere else, though. And it’ll be noticeable because the belly is the male body’s favourite storage place. And when your abs are toned, your gut won’t sag outwards.

The bigger you get, the harder you have to work. When you first start pushing weights, your stamina and strength are so limited that a short workout leaves your feeling drained. As your strength grows, so does you ability to sustain longer workouts. But if you continue, it will reach a point where you can continue to make some progress with shorter workouts, and training less often.

Treadmills are much more efficient than other machines. Not so. Rowing machines, stair climbers and stationary bikes are all good at building fitness, as long as they’re used properly.

If you want to build muscle, you need to stick to one exercise plan. Yes and no. If you want to build your biceps, then preacher curls are good, and you need to maintain them as part of your routine. But if you want to keep developing muscle and fitness, you need to surprise your body with a variety of exercises. Hardcore gym rats scoff at the idea of working out on a big ball until the try it and the next day they find they have muscles they’d forgotten. So have a go. It’s your body. It’s also your right to have some fun once in a while. (William Smook)


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