“Muscle weighs more than fat though doesn’t it”

This is a statement I hear a lot, and before I started my professional fitness career, I believed it to be true as well. It’s one of the common exercise myths that still persists today so this month’s article focuses on debunking this and a few others….

Muscle weighs more than fat

Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat – a pound is a pound! A pound of muscle will weigh the same as a pound of fat. The difference is in density. A pound of muscle is denser than a pound of fat, and therefore will appear smaller. It therefore follows that an 11 stone female with a lot of lean muscle mass will look significantly smaller and trimmer than an 11 stone female who has very little lean muscle mass and a large proportion of fat.

Women get bulky if they lift weights

Women cannot develop significant muscle mass without the presence of testosterone, and we typically don’t produce enough of it to do that. We need to forget this damaging (and limiting) belief, because lifting weights is actually very important for women. After the menopause, women stop producing so much oestrogen, which weakens our bones. Lifting weights (or any form of resistance training) strengthens the bones and reduces the risk of fractures.

You need a lot of time to fit in exercise

I often hear about people who claim they don’t have time to exercise, because they think they need at least an hour. That’s simply not true. A 30-minute brisk walk is very effective especially if done daily, and can be combined with something else, i.e. a trip to the shops or your daily commute. A 15-minute Tabata workout is highly effective, and that includes warm-up and cool-down. Even a 2-mile run with some interval sprints thrown in only needs to take 30 minutes. Exercise can be fitted into any time slot that’s 10 minutes plus, and you can use the floor at home, benches in the park, or the outdoor gym.

You need to carry water or a sports drink

If you’re going for a run of 60 minutes or less, you do not need to carry a water bottle with you. If you’re exercising for 60-minutes or more, then by all means take on a small amount of water. You only need a sports drink if you’re doing vigorous and demanding exercise for over 90 minutes. Even then, I would heavily dilute a sports drink with water, as the heavy dose of glucose that a sports drink provides can cause nausea, and simply isn’t necessary for most recreational athletes.

Exercise alone will make you lose weight

There are many benefits of exercise, and it can help to burn fat, but exercise alone will not make you lose weight. Weight loss – or more accurately, fat loss – will come mainly from diet and a balanced nutritional program. Changing your diet will create the body composition changes that many people crave, and exercise will add strength, agility, mental focus, increased energy, better sleep, improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of serious disease.

leanne spencer

Leanne Spencer

This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of SE22 magazine.