Article by Sai Gopalan
Pumping Up is a column about health, fitness, and how you can maintain it in boozy, greasy Xi’an.
So begins the new year; another year of broken dreams, failed resolutions and more body loathing, right? Hell no! Not when I’m in town. Don’t be yet another statistic, another number that failed and abandoned their resolutions within their first month. Like Will Smith once said, “If you want to build the biggest, baddest wall, lay each brick down as perfectly as a brick can possibly be laid and soon you’ll have all.”
Here’s your first brick: forget about that perfect body. Just take that first step into your overall lifestyle transformation and soon enough you’ll have your brick wall abs. I say this because the one thing that will make this year different from the rest is knowledge. I often see people with great motivation and intentions that ultimately sabotage themselves by simply doing the wrong thing. You might trust something your mama or that really big dude at gym said, but even their sage advice is sometimes wrong or misinformed. Let’s breakdown all those bad gym myths that have been floating around for years and juice them up with some rock hard facts that will help you get your sexy on!
Myth 1 You need to sweat for 45 minutes to get a health benefit.
Even if you’ve got just half an hour to spare a day, or a mere 10 minutes, you have enough time to bolster your cardiovascular health. More and more studies are pointing to the power of short workoutsand some even suggest that quickie sessions could be better for you. Yes, you read correctly: I whole-heartedly encourage quickies.According to astudy from Arizona State University published last year, people had consistently lower blood pressure readings on average when they split their daily walk into three 10-minute segments rather than tackling one 30-minute stroll. But while this may be enough to keep up your general health, you’ll still need to get more active most days of the week if you’re trying to drop some pounds. A useful tip is to do anintense, 10-minute HIIT workout right when you get out of bed(if you’re not sure what to do, you can check my article from the April 2016 issue of Xianease for two different HIIT workouts that can be done at home). It will not only rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day, but will also burn more fat then a regular 30-minute jog.
Myth 2 No pain no gain.
Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, this one can cause some real harm.
While you should expect to have some degree of soreness a day or twoafter working out this is very different from feeling painwhile you are working out.A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury. As for “working through the pain,” experts don’t advise it.They say that if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn’t go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, see a doctor.
I’ve been a victim of this: I worked through some shoulder pains to avoid missing a gym session that ultimately caused some real long-term affects. It’s important to listen to your body. The more you train the more you get a feel of when you are experiencing a good burn,versus when you’re in real pain. Be safe.
Myth 3 Cardio is Best to Burn Fat
While cardio burns more calories than resistance training during your workout, lifting weights torches more fat overall. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than those who skipped the weights. The more muscle owned, the more fat burned. Now, I know what you ladies are going to say next, which leads us to our next myth.
Myth 4 Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky
Muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs very slowly over a period of weeks, months, and years. I’ve heard people say thatthey grew so much muscle after they started lifting weightsthat their jeans felt uncomfortably tight and too small. While that may be true, strength training is not the cause. Because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount of weight into less space. That means the more muscle you build, the tighter your body will be. A poor diet and lack of exercise, as opposed to a weight-training program, create the appearance of bulk. If it was that easy to bulk up, every skinny guy you see at the gym would be a big block of stone.
Myth 5 Unused Muscle Turns to Fat
Fact: I actually had this thrown at me the other day!Your body just doesn’t work this way. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues. If you stop strength training, your muscles will begin to shrink and muscle tone and density will change. At the same time, fat cells gradually begin to replace the lean muscle tissue, thus creating the optics of weight gain, but muscle will never actually transform into fat.
Myth 6 Eating an Excess of Protein Builds Muscle
While it’s true that protein aids in hypertrophy (growth), muscle growth requires a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When your body has adequate amounts of carbs and fats to burn during your workout, it spares protein. Without sufficient carbs and fat, your body will use protein stores for energy
Myth 7 Lunges Burn Fat from Your Hips and Butt
“The more lunges I do, the more fat I’ll burn in my hips and glutes.” Sound familiar ladies? The truth is, you can do a thousand lunges a day and never lose fat from your hips and glutes. Your body doesn’t work that way. Fat is burned systematically or from all parts of your body. So despite focusing on training one muscle group, you can’t fool your body into using fat from one specific area. Losing weight is a total lifestyle transformation.
There you have it pumpsters. I hope this article hasn’t exploded the minds of you crazed conspiracy theorists. You’ll only know for sure if you go and try them out for yourself. So, put on your gym clothes and get moving! Let’s make 2017 your year and leave those broken resolutions behind once and for all!
Saien Gopalan is a South African English teacher currently teaching at EF. He has been living in Xi’an for 2 years and enjoys his off days exploring the Xi’an nightlife and of course, going to the gym.