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Ten exercise myths a personal trainer should know (Part 2)

Hadyn Luke posted this on Tuesday 9th of July 2013 Hadyn Luke 09/07/2013

Tags: Training methods

Exercise Reg

Following on from our previous blog Ten exercise myths a personal trainer should know (Part 1), today’s fitness blog looks at a further five common myths about exercise that a fitness professional should be aware of.

1. Low intensity aerobic training is the best method to burn calories and decrease body fat

Myth: Steady training in the “fat burning zone” is the most effective way to lose weight.

Why is this a myth? Burning calories and decreasing body fat is best achieved through intensity as well as volume. For example, if a fitness instructor asks a client to jog on a running machine for a period of time, working at 65% of their maximum heart rate (see our blog on Using the RPE scale), they will burn fewer calories than if they carry out higher intensity interval training, for example working at 80% then recovering at 65%, over a shorter period of time.

Further information: Working at a higher intensity will tap into the lactic acid energy system – or at 100%, the creatine phosphate system – whereas at a lower intensity the client is only working the aerobic system. Ultimately, it’s about reaching the maximum intensity to achieve the highest number of calories burned.

2. Resistance machines are better than free weights

Myth: A personal trainer should use resistance machines with clients rather than free weights.

Why is this a myth? Although it’s true that there is a higher risk of injury for a new gym goer using free weights than resistance machines, overall, free weights are the better option once the client progresses. Free weights will challenge a client’s proprioception, help them develop balance and encourage them to have better posture and the correct alignment.

Additional information: Typically, when a fitness instructor is working with a new, inexperienced client, resistance machines are the better option to start with. This allows the muscle groups, tendons, cartilages and connective tissue to start strengthening up before moving on to more challenging work outs. So for injury prevention and building up movement patterns, resistance machines are the best starting point (see our blog on Functional training – a new tool for fitness professionals).

However, taking the chest press machine as an example, the client will be using the machine to push but the rest of their body will be relaxed. Whereas carrying out a free weight exercise such as a dumbbell bench press will require them to use a much greater range of muscles to stabilise the body and complete the exercise. 

So the best approach is for a personal trainer to start a new client on resistance machines, work up to cable machines and then progress to free weights once they become more advanced in fitness and technique.

3. You only need protein to recover after exercise

Myth: In the health and fitness sector, protein is considered a nutritional priority after a work out and protein shakes are often marketed as essential for replenishing the body’s needs.

Why is this a myth? Although protein is important for rebuilding muscle tissue as branch chain amino acids will repair micro tears caused during a work out, carbohydrate is also needed to restore muscle glycogen (see our blog on The effects of protein and carbohydrate on resistance training). In addition, as protein synthesis plateaus at around 2g per kg of body weight, there is no benefit to ingesting larger amounts of protein. 

Additional information: During exercise, the carbohydrate that is stored in our muscles as glycogen is broken down and used as energy. Post work out, it’s beneficial to have an intake of both protein and carbohydrate, rather than just protein on its own.

4. Pregnant women shouldn’t exercise

Myth: Women should stop exercising when they become pregnant.

Why is this a myth? Studies have shown that women who have a good level of fitness and continue to exercise at the same rate during pregnancy are more likely to experience a healthier pregnancy and quicker recovery (see our blog on Weight gain during pregnancy). 

Additional information: It’s always important for a personal trainer to take into account what the client’s fitness levels were before the pregnancy, how often she is used to working out, how she is feeling during the pregnancy and which  trimester she’s in.

The fitness instructor’s aim should be to help the client maintain her current levels of fitness – it wouldn’t be advisable to increase the intensity of her training. The focus should be on aerobic based training and gentle stretching: developmental stretching should be avoided because of an increase in the hormone relaxin during pregnancy, which loosens up the joints.

5. All fats are bad

Myth: Personal trainers will often work with clients who believe that all fats are bad for them. One of the reasons may be the fact that fat has nine calories per gram, compared with protein and carbohydrate, which both have four calories per gram.

Why is this a myth? Fat is essential to our diet as it is used for energy, insulation, protection, transportation and storage of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It’s also used for nerve linings and in the central nervous system to send signals and responses through the body.

Additional information: Around 25-35% of our daily macronutrient intake should be from fats but only 25% of this allowance should be sourced from saturated fats, such as those found in takeaways, crisps and pastries.

Unsaturated fats, also known as mono-unsaturated fats, can be sourced from olive oil, rape seed oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are the essential fatty acids: Omega 3 found in fish, walnuts and eggs and Omega 6 found in sunflower seeds and oil, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Healthy fats are good for brain and eye development, they prevent cardiovascular disease, help lower cholesterol and tryglycerides within the blood and increase the elasticity of the blood vessels.

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