GOING to the gym can be daunting enough without trying to distinguish fact from fiction.
Will people be looking at you? What if you make a fool of yourself?
These are all questions that run through our heads – especially if you’re new to exercise or you’re just getting started.
Now, one women’s fitness coach has revealed the seven most common myths she hears.
Speaking to The Sun, personal trainer Abi Skipper said there are a lot of misconceptions that women have when it comes to exercise.
Whether it’s training on your period or if weights will make you bulky, the London-based coach has debunked the most classic conundrums.
1. Lifting weights will make you bulky
The 35-year-old said this is one of the biggest myths she hears the most.
She said: “Women are worried about using weights for the first time because they think they are going to put on loads of muscle and become really bulky.
” It’s not true, it’s actually really really hard to put on a lot of muscle, also there’s nothing wrong with muscle and being bulky, so they shouldn’t worry about that anyway.”
Abi said that to get that ‘bulky’ look, you would have to be lifting heavy weights for a very long time, combined with a dedication to your diet.
However, Abi said that for women, there are benefits when it comes to lifting.
“My favourite one is that it’s going to increase your confidence, and make you feel good.
“But internally it will increase your bone density and your muscle mass – which a lot of women don’t know – but this can actually help with weight loss as well, because with more muscle mass you burn more calories,” she added.
2. You just need to do cardio to lose weight
When it comes to misconceptions about certain exercises, Abi said just doing cardio is one of them.
The guru said that people might feel as though they need to do lots of running in order to lose weight and that’s just not the case.
“If they enjoy cardio that’s not a bad thing, because I always get asked what’s the best exercise to lose weight and the best exercise to lose weight is the one you’re going to do the most and the one you actually enjoy.
“So if you do enjoy doing cardio then that’s great, but if your goal is to lose weight then including strength training in that is really important as it increases muscle mass which is going to help you burn more calories throughout the day.”
She added that a lot of women are looking for that ‘toned look’, which Abi said ‘just isn’t a thing’.
“You can’t tone a muscle, but essentially what they’re looking for is to lower their fat percentage and increase muscle which gives you that toned look.
“So although running and cardio might help you lose some weight, you won’t achieve that toned look without having some muscle as well,” Abi explained.
Abi’s top tips for first time gym goers
Going to the gym for the first time can be scary, so here, Abi has revealed her top tips to make it less daunting.
Don’t overthink it
Abi said it might feel like everyone is looking at you, but that’s really not the case.
“Everyone will be too focused on the music in their ears, their own workouts and themselves. Just relax and go in with a plan so you’re not wandering around unsure of what to do,” she said.
Get a gym induction
If you’re unsure of exercises and how to use equipment, Abi said the best thing to do is get a gym induction.
“I think a lot of people worry they are going to injure themselves. So if you get a gym induction and you are shown what to do then it will make you feel a little more relaxed,” she said.
Take a pal
Going to the gym with someone you know is always great and will also make you accountable, Abi said.
Get a good playlist
There’s nothing better than listening to your favourite songs, and Abi said this can help with motivation.
Try to enjoy it
Most of all, Abi said try and enjoy it. “We want to celebrate our bodies and what they can do,” she added.
3. I have to do loads of crunches to get abs
We’ve all seen those crazy challenges that promise to give us abs if we do 100 crunches a day.
Abi said that this just isn’t the case and when it comes to weight loss, nutrition and your diet does the lion’s share.
“It’s having a 360 approach really. A well balanced diet and some strength training in there and cardio as well because your heart is a muscle and it’s good to train that as well.”
4. I can’t train on my period
In countless films and TV shows, we see women ditching their gym kits in favour of the sofa because they’ve come on their period.
Abi said it’s a myth that you can’t train on your period and said it all comes down to personal preference.
“Every woman has a different cycle and even in terms of your own cycle this is going to be different from month-to-month.
“My advice is to always see how you feel in that month but you certainly can train and there is no harm in training if you’re on your period,” she added.
5. Only training in the morning counts
Abi said that there are a lot of myths surrounding when you should and shouldn’t train.
She said: “This comes down to personal preference, it’s whenever you’re more likely to go.
“If you’re not a morning person, don’t put it in your diary that you’re doing a morning class, because you’re not going to go and then you’re going to feel bad.
“So if you feel you have more energy in the evenings then you should go in the evenings.
“It might also depend on your gym, if it’s really busy in the morning and you prefer to work out in a less busy gym then do that.
“From a fitness level it doesn’t matter as long as you get there and you move – it doesn’t matter that at what time.”
6. There are only certain exercises that will work for fat reduction
This is one question that Abi said she gets asked a lot – which is ‘can I target belly fat‘?
The coach said that unfortunately, there are no exercises that can target specific areas.
“If you see anyone telling you they can then it’s just not true. You’re best looking at a full body workout and a balanced diet,” she added.
7. I have to be sore for the workout to count
If you’ve not exercised in a while, then you might be struggling to get off the sofa after your latest session.
But Abi said the idea that you always have to be sore, as a marker of how hard or effective the workout has been, is just not true.
She said: “Obviously if you haven’t done any exercise before and you’re new to some movements and exercises you will be a little bit sore afterwards and that’s called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
“This is completely normal and that is just your muscles during the workout growing and accommodating that workout so you just need to get some recovery afterwards to help with that.”
“But you can have a workout and not have any pain and still have had a good work out”, she added.