The Top 10 Biggest Myths in Fitness
Some fight the urge to hit snooze for an early morning run. Others stop on the way home from work to weight train when they’d rather just watch Netflix.
We all want to look and feel our best, and many go to great lengths to do so.
The only problem is: when you walk into a local gym, flat-out falsehoods echo off every wall. Magazines and online forums are filled with fads and easy, incorrect answers to hard questions. Advice from friends isn’t any better.
Therefore, many people are working hard but aren’t achieving the results they’d like because their training is informed by myths that get repeated so often that they’ve begun to feel true.
These are the top ten incorrect beliefs and assumptions I hear all the time that can stand in the way of you looking and feeling your best.
- Cardio comes before training
Cardio isn’t a bad warm-up. It’s a great way to increase your inner core temperature and get your blood flowing. This prepares your muscles for activity and decreases the likelihood of injury. But, don’t let your warm up become a workout. If you’re trying to utilize your “pre-workout” time to burn fat or create a calorie deficit, you are most likely burning all the energy that you’ll need for weight training. Without that precious glucose, your performance will suffer and you won’t be able to train properly.
- High reps and low weight will get you lean and “toned”
High-rep training has it’s time and place. But for your muscles to show, you must have significant muscle mass. To build that muscle mass, you have to lift a weight that will induce hypertrophy and get you out of homeostasis. More than likely your high-repetition weight will not do this. Also, for muscles to show, you often need to decrease your body fat — your high-rep workout may be doing little to burn fat or create a calorie deficit.
- Lifting heavy will make me too bulky
I hate when people say things like this. It is disrespectful to those who are trying to get “bulky” and completely contradicts the difficulty of such a feat. Nobody builds lean muscle overnight or by accident. It is difficult, time consuming, and requires a specific plan. To increase mass you MUST significantly increase your caloric intake, specifically of carbohydrates and proteins.
- Eat less to lose weight
One of the least correct but most repeated statements. The human body doesn’t count calories. It instead works through a series of checks and balances. When you take calories in (a measurement of food energy), your body matches it with a metabolic response. Therefore, reducing your caloric intake by 30% will also reduce your metabolic response by 30%. This is why people on deprivation diets lose weight, plateau, and then gain back the lost weight (or even more). Look for a full article about this soon.
- Cardio is best for losing weight
Keep vague platitudes out of your fitness plan. There are many types of cardio workouts, with many different benefits. However, there is no one type of activity or exercise that is best for losing weight. I’ve found with my clients that a combination of resistance training and cardio is often most effective for losing and keeping off extra pounds. Keep in mind that assumes your nutritional balance is geared toward weight loss. Otherwise, you could just be spinning your wheels or even making things worse.
- Crunches build six packs
We don’t burn fat solely through exercise and it is impossible to spot target fatty tissue. Crunches build abdominal muscles, they don’t reduce belly fat. In fact, if you begin doing extraordinary amounts of abdominal work and have no change in your diet, you may end up increasing the muscle mass in your abdomen. This will push out whatever pre-existing fat is there and actually make your belly look bigger (talk about irony). I am not advocating against abdominal work or exercise in general for fat loss. I am simply stating, as I have before, it is not that simple.
- Can’t build muscle after 40
There are few things I like less than people telling others what they can’t do — especially because of age. It is true that as you age, your body inherently “slows down” and produces less hormones. However, all this really means is that you get away with less. You can’t skip workouts, neglect your mobility, or overlook recovery. But you can still build muscle. Do yourself a favor, get a blood test. Figure out where you are deficient. Fix those deficiencies, and get into the gym with a program that works for you! The fact is, the only things that are going to get you where you want to be are consistency and time — no matter what age you are.
- High protein diets hurt your kidneys
This implies there is a predetermined amount of protein that is “high” or “bad.” The reality is it’s all relative to the individual. Current nutritional science states that the “average” sedentary person should take in .8gs of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However, when you add in exercise (depending on type and how much) it can increase all the way up to a whopping 2.2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The kidneys however have an upper limit (can do but not for long) anywhere from 3.5-4.5gs per kg daily. So if by high-protein diet, you mean too much protein in your diet is bad for you, then yes…you’re correct. Eating 3.5-4.5 gs per kg would be wrong and terrible for your body (and impressive you can consume that much). But don’t eat less than your body’s optimal protein intake because you believe it will damage your kidneys
- Cut carbs, lose weight.
Carbohydrates are our primary and most efficient energy source. While there are special cases, most people need to keep them in their diets. When people cut carbs, typically they see immediate weight loss, followed by plateaus, and ultimately weight gain. This has a lot to do with homeostasis (your body’s desire to maintain itself). There are many ways to manipulate carbohydrates to initiate effective and proper weight loss, but “cutting” them is a bad plan. The “macro” in macronutrient means big…aka big nutrients. You need them. Don’t cut things out. If you need assistance with weight loss, ask for help from a qualified professional. Don’t listen to your friend who loses and gains weight every 3-4 months with the latest and greatest fad diet. You will end up disturbing your hormonal balance and only hurt yourself in the long run.
- I’m not sore so the workout wasn’t hard enough
Soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is caused by micro tears in the muscle. This is a natural occurrence of resistance training. However, if you are not sore, it does not mean your workout wasn’t effective. Soreness happens less and less as you maintain your programming. Which is fine. It is simply a sensation of working out. As you change up your programming, you may start to become sore again. This has nothing to do with your progress and you can decrease or increase muscles soreness easily. Simply decrease or increase the intensity of the program you are on. But, this is not something you NEED to do. Listen to your body during the workout. If it is challenging, yet you are capable of performing the work under the desired guidelines, continue to do so regardless of soreness. Rapid changes based on sensation will more than likely result in injury.
Want to swap these myths for cold hard fitness truths? Contact us for a free consultation.