Access to information has never been easier. All you need to do to find a plethora of answers is type a question into an online search engine! There’s so much information out there, but is all of it accurate? Today we answer five frequently asked questions as we tackle common sports myths.
Will I lose belly fat if I do ab exercises every day?
The answer: Unfortunately, you cannot target the area where you want to lose fat. To lose “belly fat,” you need to reduce the amount of adipose tissue (fat) throughout your entire body.
Practical tips: To reduce adipose tissue, you need to eat healthily and do exercises that burn more calories than classic ab crunches. And to keep your heart, muscles, and bones healthy, you should vary the exercises you do. Nevertheless, strengthening your abdominals and upper body muscles is great for your posture, makes it easier for you to carry out your daily activities, and reduces your risks of injuring yourself. Try these exercises.
Should you eat more when you work out?
The answer: Maybe. The answer depends on your goal.
Practical tips: If your aim is hypertrophy training to increase the size of your muscles, you should opt for a positive caloric balance (consuming more calories than you expend in a day). If this is your goal, you can eat a few sensible snacks after your workout. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you don’t need to eat more than you usually do. If you work out for more than 60 minutes at a high level of intensity, you can schedule your regular snack or eat part of your meal right after your training session instead of adding more calories into your daily routine. It’s also a great way to help you recuperate! Remember that it is a lot easier to consume calories than it is to burn them.
*Please note that this answer does not apply to athletes who require a special diet tailored to their needs.
Can I work out while pregnant?
The answer: ABSOLUTELY. Even if your centre of gravity is altered, making physical activities slightly trickier, staying active during pregnancy is incredibly beneficial for you and your baby. If you get your doctor’s permission, prenatal workouts will reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure due to pregnancy. It will also reduce your back pain and other discomforts and will prevent you from gaining too much weight.
Practical tips: Avoid sports where you risk falling, and don’t begin an activity you’ve never tried before. Don’t do high-intensity exercise; opt for moderate intensity instead. Some types of exercise are ideal during the prenatal phase to prepare your body to give birth and recuperate from the process. Strengthening your pelvic floor and deep abdominals is one example. Make sure to avoid crunches or any other exercise that has to do with your rectus abdominis muscles, also known as the six pack.
Does stretching before/after a workout reduce the risk of feeling sore the next day?
The truth: For a long time, this was believed to be the case. However, stretching before or after your workout does not magically heal the microscopic tears in your muscles, which are responsible for that sore feeling the day after a vigorous workout. Studies have also shown that static stretching (e.g., holding a position for 30 seconds) reduces the force of the muscles’ contraction during your workout and does not help prevent injury.
Practical tips: Opt instead for dynamic stretching (e.g., high knee walking) to warm up your muscles. You should also be aware that you can still benefit from working on your flexibility after a training session since your muscles are already warmed up!
Is it possible to get in shape by only working out for seven minutes?
The answer: Let me answer this with another question: Are you able to condense all the efforts you would have put into an hour-long session into seven minutes? If so, you might get impressive results in a short amount of time. However, it is not recommended to train at such a high level of intensity every day. And even if high-intensity training (HIT) is efficient, you should combine it with endurance training (a longer session at a lower level of intensity) because both kinds of exercise provide different benefits.
Practical tips: Giving 200% during a seven-minute workout won’t do much if you spend the rest of the week sitting. Make sure you stay active every day. That way, you can vary your routine by adding different levels of intensity* here and there. Here are a few tips for staying active throughout the day.
These are only a few of the misconceptions that surround sports. Together, they serve as a reminder to stay aware and find reliable sources of information, especially when your health is at stake.
Chloé Rochette, Personal Trainer | HappyFitness
Sport has always been a part of Chloe’s life and she became a coach to share, with as many people as possible, the happiness it has brought to her. A dancer, skier and former triathlete, she is now a personal trainer and founder of Le Mouvement HappyFitness—a company with which she hopes to make a difference in people's lives by showing them the joys of being active and healthy.