1. Do you need to run to lose weight?
The long and short of it is, no you definitely don't need to start running or be a runner to lose weight! Not everyone can run and not everyone likes running, so why do something that you don't like. I will reiterate this again, exercise is supposed to be something that you ENJOY! So don't force yourself to do something that you ultimately don't want to do and are just going to give up on a few months down the track. If you like running then yes, it is a fantastic form of cardio exercise. Not only can it help with weight loss but it provides endorphins (similar to those that get released when you fall in love) so can help increase your energy levels, improve your mood and combat depression. However, if you don't like running or find it isn't for you, there are many other great forms of cardio exercise such as swimming, cycling, boxing or doing Interval training so pick something that works for you.
2. Do I need to load up on protein after I do a weights session?
This has been a myth that has been around for a long time and is one that I used to believe. At best your body can only handle and properly digest around 12 - 15 grams of protein per meal. With an adequate diet consisting of a variety of fruit, vegetables, lean meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains you should be receiving adequate protein in your daily diet. Any excess that you consume will either be secreted or turn to fat and hang around your waist as extra calories. If you are consuming 2 - 3 sources of protein per day then you will adequately be meeting your daily needs. The only time that you would be in need of any extra protein is if you are a serious body builder and are doing weight training numerous times per day so are using up all that protein and need extra for muscle repair and regeneration. However, one thing I will stress is meal timing. Eating approximately 15 - 60 minutes after you have finished training and including some source of protein and carbohydrates will help with muscle regeneration, repair and speed up your recovery from the session.
3. Won't I get bulky lifting weights if i'm a girl?
This is another one that I used to believe. Females have only 1/20th to 1/30th the amount of testosterone that males do, so females do not have the testosterone support to build muscle. Taking steroids and doing weight training twice a day 7 days a week while eating in a huge calorie surplus might bulk a female up slightly but nothing to what a male would at doing only 1/4 of that amount of work. Lifting weights for a female is about being able to be strong and fit well into later life and to avoid bone loss and degeneration. It is about being able to do functional movements (squat down to pick up the groceries or your child) that can help in everyday tasks (being able to carry said child around or carry that 12kg bag of dog food home).
4. Can I spot reduce fat from one specific area on my body?
This is one that I hear all too often - "I just want to lose weight form XYZ part of my body, what are the best exercises to do that." When you lose fat you lose it from everywhere on your body, you can't specifically target an area to lose fat. You are able to tone specific areas - Doing squats and lunges will tone your legs and doing crunches will build and tone your abdominals but if those areas are covered in a layer of fat you will not be able to see the definition. Improving your diet, doing consistent cardiovascular exercise to lose weight combined with doing resistance training will help you to see greater definition and tone in all areas of your body.
5. Are machines better than free weights?
Both Machines and free weights have their benefits. If you are just starting out at the gym, machines are better able to help you to perform the exercise safely and easier to see what type of exercises you are able to do with each machine. Free weights however are able to give you better range of motion and help you mimic movements that are performed in everyday life (e.g squats, lunges, overhead press).
6. You need to work out for hours on end to get results?
You do not need to be slogging it out at the gym 7 days a week for 2 hours each session to start to see results. If you were a beginner this would be not only dangerous, but realistically who has the time to be able to do that? Quick Workouts for as little as 30 minutes per day have been shown to have significant benefits and if you go from having not gone to the gym to going to the gym even for a few sessions per week this will show significant benefits.