There is no doubt that exercise is important to our health. Not only does it maintain bone and muscle mass, it also causes the brain to secrete all sorts of happy chemicals, leaving us feeling euphoric and confident.
In our quest to achieve our desired fitness level and physical shape, we often search for information from numerous sources — the internet, gym buddies, friends and family. But not all sources are created equal. It is all too human to take the path of least resistance and not bother with checking the information against someone more knowledgeable. That is why sayings such as “No pain, no gain” have insidiously made their way into gyms and exercise studios.
Someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about this topic is David Chua, 26, a personal trainer for the past four years. This ACE-certified professional, who is also trained in precision nutrition and kinesiology, reveals three popular misconceptions about exercise his clients had before he enlightened them.
1. Heavier weights for bulk, lighter weights to get “cut”
“This is one of those Bro Science statements that guys like to regurgitate,” reveals Chua. The statement refers to the popular belief that exercising using heavy weights will automatically lead to an increase in muscle size, while exercising with light weights, especially with high number of repetitions, will give muscles more definition without the increased mass. Chua explains that you can make a two-kilogram dumbbell feel as heavy as five kilograms by the way you lift it. As he puts it, “Form must be number one.” Carrying a heavy dumbbell without the right form means putting tension on other muscles, meaning the targeted muscle group will not grow as large. “Once you stimulate the mind-muscle connection and activate the actual muscle group, you’re on the right path,” he adds.
2. Jogging is the best way to lose fat
Chua says this myth is prevalent among his female clients. For optimum fat loss, he says that a whole gamut of activities is required. Comparing an anaerobic exercise such as weight training to a cardio activity such as jogging, Chua advises that weights will “definitely burn fat faster.” This is because anaerobic activities help the body to achieve the right elevated heart rate more quickly than jogging can. “It takes at least 20 minutes of jogging to hit the right cardiovascular level,” he shares, “by which time most people would want to stop already.”
3. Jogging on a treadmill stresses the knees less than jogging on the road
“This is really one of the worst things one can say,” laments Chua. “It’s actually the other way around.” Perhaps this myth arose because treadmills are located indoors, in air-conditioned comfort. On the open road, a person can adjust his speed and gait while maintaining a forward momentum. However, on a treadmill, a jogger is forced to stay within the narrow confines of the treadmill belt, which may interfere with his natural running gait and stress his limbs. Also, because of the belt’s pull, the jogger just has to lift his body up and down, thus contributing to a heavier landing of his feet. This places a lot of stress on the knees. Just listen to how hard most people slam their feet against the treadmill belt the next time you visit a gym!