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The truth behind health and fitness catchphrases

School Of Personal Training Posted Dec 01, 2015 Future Fit Training


There’s an almost unlimited number of catchphrases associated with training and eating ‘right’ (whatever that is), but which could be a little misleading?

The truth behind health and fitness catchphrases

Gym vests and t-shirts are emblazoned with quotes, and social media is littered with ‘memes’, motivational sayings and common phrases related to fitness, exercise, health and nutrition, but do you just accept these as truths or should we think more deeply about what’s being implied? Let’s take a look at a few.

“No pain, no gain”

This one’s a classic, often used in a sports context as well as fitness. Whilst it’s true that for maximum results, particularly in the realms of bodybuilding and sports performance, a certain level of discomfort goes hand in hand with high intensity training, it’s still possible to make progress without it. Certainly for those people unaccustomed to exercise or even intimidated by it, sending the message that it needs to hurt to be effective isn’t going to help encourage them to become more active. Instead, engaging in activities that are enjoyable is far more likely to result in regular participation, and therefore results over time, than those which you’ll give up very quickly. That said of course, hardened exercisers often do enjoy ‘feeling the burn’ and don’t consider themselves to have had a good workout otherwise!     

“Abs are made in the kitchen”

This saying is intended to illustrate the point that nutrition is the key factor in determining fat loss, and endless stomach exercises alone won’t get you very far. Yet conversely stripping away body fat on its own has limited effect if it’s a six-pack you’re after. Muscle tone only comes about through working the muscles of a particular body part regularly. This is why the phrase is often extended to “Abs are made in the kitchen, but glutes are made in the gym”, but as it’s essential to train the rectus abdominis and obliques, strictly speaking abs are in fact also made in the gym (or wherever you exercise), with good nutrition essential to reveal them. Think of training like building a sports car in a garage – your diet is what opens the door for you to see it!

“If the bar ain’t bending, you’re just pretending”

In a milder form, the same sentiment is expressed as “go heavy or go home”. Clearly this reinforces the idea that unless you’re lifting very heavy weights, your workouts aren’t effective, which is simply not true unless out and out strength is your aim. Even then, it’s all relative. What’s heavy for one person might not be for another. To load an Olympic bar with enough weight to make it bend is far beyond most regular gym-goer’s abilities and certainly not necessary for strength gains.

“Sweat is fat crying”

This one’s true.

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