Common Misconceptions of Training & Fat Loss

Being in this industry, I stumble across a lot of comments and questions from clients which are very common across the board. To name a few:

"I want to build muscle, but I don't want to get bulky"

"That was a great workout because I got really sweaty!"

"What exercises can I do to lose fat around my stomach?" "I just want to get to X weight/ or lose X amount of weight, and I'll be happy".  

I'm not saying that these comments/ questions are stupid or silly, but they are a misconception for many people. So, I thought I would touch on a few of these topics! One of the most important factors when it comes to exercise and fat loss, is to be educated. It's one thing to exercise, but if you don't know what you're doing, then how can you truly make progress and reach your true potential? Take the time, and make the effort to educate yourself along the way. I guarantee it will make a HUGE difference to your training success. 

"I want to build muscle, but I don't want to get bulky"

Weight training is one of the best ways to decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. As your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolism. This is because the more muscle you build,  the more calories your body will naturally burn each day on its own. Not only that, your body can continue to burn calories for up to 20 hours post exercise. Due to the fact that women do not, and cannot, naturally produce testosterone (One of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size) like males, it is almost impossible to build huge amounts of muscle and get "bulky" just from touching weights.  Those big muscly "bulky" women that you see on social media, are most often bodybuilders who spend hours in the gym everyday lifting weights as a profession, and take anabolic steroids. On another note, there are plenty of natural women who compete in fitness/ figure shows these days who are toned and muscly, but again, they do this as a profession and spend hours training and strict dieting/ cutting.  

"That was a great workout because I got really sweaty!"

Sweat definitely does not indicate a good workout. Our body produces sweat to stop itself from overheating - It's a natural way of cooling down! When you exercise, your body temperature elevates which stimulates your sweat response. As sweat evaporates off your skin in to the air, you cool yourself down. Simple right?

Every person is different - I know some people who sweat before they have even touched a weight! Whereas others can do a high intensity 45 minute workout, and look like they have barely stepped foot out of the house.

A number of factors contribute to sweat, such as: Physical fitness, sex, DNA, humidity, bodyweight, how many sweat glands are activated (Males sweat glands activate more than females).

"What exercises can I do to lose fat around my stomach?"

Just because you're working a certain muscle, doesn't mean that you're reducing the fat around it. We can't choose where fat goes on our body, and we can't choose where we lose it. You can defiantly gain muscle in that area, but in order to get that "toned" look, you need to reduce your body fat percentage, and this is done through diet. To put it simple, body fat is reduced by burning more calories then we are consuming, and this is referred to as being in a calorie deficit.  

When it comes to exercising, aim for full body exercises that target compound muscle groups such as back squats, deadlifts, bench press, strict press, hip thrusts etc.. The more muscles you put to work (and the longer you do so for) the more you increase your calorie burn during that session.

"I just want to get to X weight/ or lose X amount of weight, and I'll be happy". 

Many people use the word fat loss and weight loss interchangeably, when in fact they are two seperate notions. Losing weight isn't hard - You can lose weight by merely sitting in a sauna for 45 mins, or going to the toilet! Our bodyweight is made up of three main components -- fat, lean muscle mass (muscle, bones & organs) and water.  So when we refer to "weight loss", there are other types of factors to consider.

Water plays a very interesting and important role within our bodies, and it can be a big contributor for "weight loss" and "weight gain". Glycogen is a short term energy source that our body taps in to when we need immediate energy. It's produced from many types of foods, foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Glycogen has a very interesting element - Approx. 3-4 grams of water, will bond to each gram of glycogen!

A common issue found when people jump on to the scales after a big night out drinking/ eating, is that they think they have gained all this "weight" and all their hard work has been for nothing....Well, that isn't the case! An increase in glycogen stores, causes an increase in water retention! So this sudden "weight gain" is mainly water. Once your glycogen levels become depleted, there is less water for the glycogen to bond to.

There are other factors that can affect your weight on the scales, such as: Salt intake, muscle gain/ loss, time of the day, time of the month (for females), eating food, drinking water. So, instead of focusing on that number on the scales, set goals to decrease your body fat percentage, and increase your muscle mass! Chances are, once you increase your muscle mass, your weight may even increase because muscle weighs more than fat! 

This being said, one of the most effective ways to track your progress is by assessing your body composition.  Body composition scales are found at most gyms these days, and although they are not 100% correct, they definitely provide a better indication of your weight then regular scales. 

My advice - Focus on your goals in the gym, not your weight! Set yourself a goal to do X amount of unassisted pull-ups, or X weight back squat/ deadlift. I guarantee your body composition will change without it even being the main focus! Your body composition is just a bi-product of your hard work and performance!! #hipthrustoften