5 Gym Myths De-bunked

Every gym has around 40-50 Personal Trainers. Well that’s a slightly exaggeration... they have a small handful of trainers and then 40-50 members who are “Wannabe personal trainer’s who love telling new comers what to do, and they love to spread bro-science lies about training, supplements, nutrition and anything in between!

So in this article I’m going to de-bunk 5 of the most common gym myths you may of heard in the gym!

1. No Carbs After 6pm (<< Or Other Random Times Of The Day)

Where did this one come from? The myth goes something like this: 

You shouldn’t eat any carbs after 6pm (or some other random time, usually in the evening). You have to eat all your carbohydrates earlier in the day. Eating them near bedtime means you will gain body fat, because you won’t “burn them off”.

OK. Here’s how it REALLY works. Your body (and brain!) need carbohydrates. The amount you need depends on your goals, body weight, muscle mass, activity level and other factors. But here’s the thing. Your body does not know what time it is. It has no idea that your clock says 6pm.

Your body doesn’t work to a clock. It works continually, to a 24-hour, on going system. The only way you will gain fat is if you eat TOO MANY CALORIES. And those calories could come from any food, and any macronutrient, not just carbs. Excess calories from carbs don’t magically become body fat any differently than excess calories from chicken breast, or peanut butter. Time of day does NOT matter. If you are in a calorie deficit over the 24 hours, all good for fat loss. You can eat your carbs during the day, at night, or spread out. It doesn’t matter. OVERALL INTAKE ACROSS THE DAY is what is important.

If a client of mine is weight training 8.30-9.30pm at night after work, I will recommend to them to consume some carbs after their workout, even though it’s late at night.

Also some people, including myself even find that some carbs before bed helps them sleep and life is just better with a good nights sleep!

2. Lifting Weights Will Make Women Bulky

Oh no. This myth has to die! Ladies, lifting weights will NOT make you bulky. I’m assuming by “bulky”, you mean big like a bodybuilder? It just won’t happen. If you’ve seen photos of big bulky women, the chances are that they are on performance-enhancing drugs. Getting big through lifting weights takes intense dedication to training and diet, good genetics… and usually a little “assistance”. To put your mind at rest, seek out photos of natural, drug free athletes. They have a sleek, lean, athletic look. The fact is that women do not have the testosterone levels necessary to get big and bulky. They just don’t - it’s biological fact. Your testosterone levels are a tiny fraction of a man’s testosterone.

Average adult male: 270-1070 ng/dL
Average adult female: 15-70 ng/dL

See? Even a woman with high testosterone levels will still only have ONE QUARTER of the amount of a guy with rock-bottom levels. So don’t panic. Your body is not set up to get big or bulky.

Lifting weights will: help you lose body fat, boost your metabolism, get you strong, keep you out of pain, make you feel badass and confident!

3. Dieting Has To Mean Cutting All Carbohydrates

Poor carbs. They do have a hard time of it! People often think that you need to cut carbohydrates to lose weight. The truth is that a good diet (one you can stick to!) need a balance of all macronutrients. There is nothing wrong with carbs. In fact, they are our body’s preferred energy source. Our brains need them, too. Did you know that - gram for gram - carbs and protein contain the same amount of calories? 4 calories per gram. Yet protein is hailed at “King” and carbs get demonised. It makes no sense on a caloric level.

Of course, eating too much of anything can make us gain weight, just because it means too many calories. So eat an APPROPRIATE amount of carbs. But there’s no need to cut them all out.

Take home point: cutting carbs will lead to losing water weight because carbohydrates help the body store water (carboHYDRATES). But that’s nothing to do with losing body-fat. Keep appropriate amounts of carbs in your diet and you’ll feel fuller, and be able to stick to your diet long term. Happy days!

4. Eating Every 2 Hours Will Speed Up Your Metabolism

I think this gem comes from the old school bodybuilding world. But there’s no sense behind it. Eating little and often does not fire up your metabolism, or keep it burning. Your metabolism just doesn’t work like that. The best way to lose fat is to eat the right amount of calories to create a deficit, and to eat to a structure that suits YOU! If that means 5 meals a day, great. If it means 3 meals a day, fine. But don’t think you need to start eating when you wake up, and carry tubs of food everywhere. It’s just not necessary.

Take home point: activity levels (and the size of your internals organs!) affects your metabolism more than anything else. Eat as often as you want to, and as often as suits your lifestyle and routine.

5. Lift Light Weights & High Reps To Tone The Muscle

This myth contains so many mini-myths that I’m not sure where to start! OK let’s start with that word: toning. What do you mean by toning? There’s no such thing as toning up a muscle. When a client tells me their goal is to “tone up” what they are telling me is that they would like to build some lean muscle and reduce body-fat.

I think this myth comes from people who don’t want to get “bulky”, but want to shape up and look slimmer and leaner. You’ll achieve the lean look by lifting weights, addressing your diet, and losing a bit of body fat.

Light weights and high reps don’t magically achieve a different look to heavy weights for low reps. But it is less effective. Why? If you only ever lift light weights, you won’t progress. You’ll just get better at lifting light weights. Your body won’t have any reason to adapt. 

I encourage all my clients male and female to get strong in the 8-15 rep range on all your compound lifts. By “compound” I mean lifts that incorporate multiple joints, not an isolation exercise that only works one muscle at a time. Best examples of multi-joint exercises that should be in your program include: squats, lunges, pressing variations, deadlifts and step ups.

And if you’re lifting weights in the gym that are lighter than your kids, your handbag, or your shopping, then why are you there at all?

Take home point: a good lifting routine includes different weight selections and different rep ranges. High reps do have their place. But lifting low weights for the sake of it is a waste of your time. If it doesn’t challenge you, it wont change you !

If you’re still confused about these myths or anything else that confuses you training and nutrition wise, drop me an email and I will be happy to help you!