Fitness myths busted!


Don’t believe those gym rumours – here’s the truth about how to get fitter, faster.

‘No pain, no gain’

‘This is a tough one,’ says elite athlete and celebrity fitness expert Jenny Pacey ( ‘You need to experience some sort of muscle soreness to see results, but you don’t want to go overboard and cause an injury. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) occurs when nerve endings get inflamed after you slightly tear your muscle tissues when exercising. As your muscles repair themselves, they get stronger and bigger, so you can work them all over again. So yes, you do need some muscle soreness to see results, but not acute pain – and rest and recovery is important.’

‘I go to the gym so I can eat what I like, right?’

‘Wrong,’ says Natasha Barot, a personal trainer from LA Fitness ( ‘I tell my clients 80 per cent of their results come from nutrition. If you’re in the gym for an hour a day, you still have plenty of time to eat badly and your workout isn’t going to make up the difference. Exercising does help – but it isn’t going to cancel out poor eating habits.’

‘The more exercise I do the better’

‘If you think making the gym your second home is a great way to get results, think again,’ says personal trainer Karen Norris( ‘Too much training not only results in over-use injuries but also stimulates the stress hormone cortisol, which has been shown to increase fat around the stomach. Ideally, you need one to two days of complete rest a week and to keep your workouts to no more than 60 minutes.’

‘If I do hundreds of crunches I’ll lose my muffin top’

‘There’s no such thing as spot reducing fat,’ says Norris. ‘You can do as many crunches as you like, but if you have a layer of fat over the muscles, they won’t show. You need to lose weight by eating well (lots of vegetables and good, lean protein; cut out sugar and white flour), and bear in mind the first place you gain fat is the last place you’ll lose it. Cardiovascular exercise will also help.’

‘Exercising long and slow burns more fat’

‘It’s true your body uses more fat for energy while exercising at a lower intensity, but a more intense workout will get your heart rate up higher, which burns more calories during and after your workout,’ says Pacey. ‘Studies have shown interval training can increase your fitness by up to twice as much as traditional, long, slow distance work and is far more efficient for fat loss.’

‘I should always do cardio first’

‘No, you should do it last,’ says Barot. ‘If you do cardio first, your body sees it as a warm up and you’ll start by using glycogen stores for fuel rather than burning fat. You need that glycogen for the short, sharp effort of lifting weights. Doing your weights routine first depletes your glycogen (stored energy in the muscles) stores, so when you hit the treadmill your body will be in fat-burning mode straight away.’