And here’s the countdown to the Top 10 Fitness Myths…
10. Women will get bulky from lifting weights
Let me be more specific – women are afraid that lifting HEAVY weights will make them bulky. Crappy fitness videos abound with women performing biceps curls and triceps kickbacks with dumbbells that should only be used as paper weights.
Women can not get big and bulky for one very good reason…their bodies don’t produce enough testosterone to build the large bulky muscles you’re likely to see in bodybuilding ads. Testosterone is a key ingredient to putting on muscle mass, and the only way women can get this type of big bulky look is by taking steroids and hormone injections. This is why you see bulky female body builders.
So don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights if you’re a woman. Lifting heavy will make a woman strong, not manly. And personally, I find a strong woman sexy as hell.
9. Yoga will make you long and lean
I’ve been to a few yoga classes in my day. And yes, I’ll admit my attendance was at least “partly” motivated by the target rich environment of fit young ladies (there was only one other dude in the class). But the flexibility and breath training of yoga appealed to the martial artist in me, so I took the class seriously.
My take on yoga? After over 25 years of martial arts training, yoga was the best flexibility training that I ever experienced. I also found yoga to be outstanding for balance, static strength, and breath work. But hearing someone say that yoga will make your muscles long and lean makes me cringe. Maybe we’re dealing with semantics here, but I’m thinking the “length” of a muscle is not going to change any more than the skeletal structure it’s attached to. Perhaps the increase in flexibility from yoga training causes people to use the term “long” to describe their muscles. Whether it’s poor terminology or marketing hype, yoga will not make your muscles long.
As far as lean, yoga will contribute no more to being “lean” than any other activity using equivalent caloric expenditure. I’m saying that if your yoga class causes you to burn 150 calories and mopping the floor causes you to burn 150 calories, mopping the floor will make you just as lean as doing yoga. But then you’re unlikely to see the hot blonde chick doing the downward dog in yoga pants while mopping your floor.
8. Deadlifts and Squats are dangerous
Have you picked a bag of groceries off of the floor recently? Then you’ve done the deadlift. Have you stood up from a seated position? Then you’ve done the squat. Danger in these movements is a factor of load and technique. Proper technique will ensure proper skeletal alignment, reducing the chance of injury. Using a load appropriate for your current fitness level will also reduce the chance of injury. Notice I did not say eliminate injury. All movement involves the risk of injury to some extent, whether it’s rocking a 400 pound squat or crossing the street.
7. Three sets of ten repetitions are the best program for building muscle
Let me make this clear from the start: There is no “best program” for building muscle. There are too many factors that change from person to person to call anything “best”. That being said, three sets of ten to twelve reps is a good program for building muscle – for the beginner.
But damn near any resistance training someone does if they have no prior training is going to garner a muscle building response. Beware the lofty promises of the glossy fitness mags. Three sets of ten reps are not a cure-all for the muscularly challenged. The Gym Junkies muscle building program would be a better starting point for people with prior training experience.
6. Machines are safer than free weights
Damn near every exercise machine lulls you into a false sense of security. The machine makes you think you are strong, when you are much weaker than you would be if you spent the same time and effort with free weights. The machine forces you into a plane of motion that is not natural and almost always robs you of the opportunity to develop stabilizing muscles, posture and balance.
So when the real world strikes – and the real world always strikes – and you have to lift a couch or push a car or pull your dog off of the mailman, you’ll find that all of your machine work doesn’t quite transfer to the task at hand. Skeletal and muscular injuries are a risk in ANY exercise program. A deadlift isn’t bungee jumping. Grab the bar and move some damn weight!
5. Looking fit = being fit
How I love it when the former high school football star walks into my gym for the first time. He’s five or ten years removed from his varsity jacket, but he still appears to be in pretty good shape. Hell, he still goes to the gym three days a week and he IS in better shape than the average Joe.
But his fitness mag workout built muscles lie to him. They give him an arrogance that I smell and I can’t help but satisfy the urge to serve him some humble pie. So I feed him a simple 4-minute workout of Tabata squats. No added weight – just his body. His face reddens, his legs quiver, but he makes it to the end. And then curls into the fetal position in the corner.
Being “fit” should give a person relative high performance across a broad spectrum of physical attributes including strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and coordination. You can look like an underwear model and still get humbled by having to move the refrigerator.
4. Targeting specific muscle groups is the best way to lift
How many times have you heard “Today I’m doing bi’s and tri’s” or “Monday is my chest day”? How you plan a resistance training program depends on several factors, but the one factor we’ll concern ourselves with here is the goal in mind.
Why are you doing resistance training? I prefer to design programs around movements instead of muscles. The real world is never going to give you a task that focuses only on your “bi’s”. The body moves as one piece so it is important that you treat it accordingly. Full body movements like deadlifts, power cleans, and presses should be the staples of any resistance program.
At least any program that wants to get you fit and not just ready for your beach vacation.
3. You need supplements to get in good shape
Supplements should be used only for what they’re name implies: to “supplement” an already nutritious diet. Most Pills, powders, potions, and magic elixirs are not the Holy Grail they are purported to be. There are however some quality products, but you must do your homework before purchasing.
They should only be applied after solid nutrition is in place. What supplements do I consider alright? Maybe a nitric oxide booster or an all natural pre-workout with no fillers or fake crap. A good multi-vitamin is never going to get bad mouthed by me. An omega-3 supplement if you are unable to get it from your diet (and few of us can) is alright. And maybe, and I said maybe, a protein powder if you are unable to acquire the required amount of protein from your diet. Keep the Horny Goat Weed to yourself.
2. Long slow running is the best way to lose weight
I so wish this one would go the way of the dinosaur. But I still hear people saying how they’re running 5 miles a day in their efforts to lose weight. I tell them that if they want to run to lose weight they should sprint their ass off until they see stars and then walk until the stars go away. Then repeat this cycle until they feel like it is impossible to continue.
The reality is that long slow cardio training of any kind – whether pounding the pavement or watching the wheels go ’round on the elliptical is inefficient to put it nicely and a waste of time to put it bluntly. And for all of you wannabe-gerbils rocking the treadmills, don’t get me started on the pretty lights and the “fat burning zone” of the digital read out. Just like your prom date saying it’s her first time, those things lie – don’t believe the hype.
Cranking your metabolism into a fat burning furnace takes pushing yourself to an exertion level that is “uncomfortable”.
1. Crunches will get rid of belly fat
Oh man, this one is right up there with long slow cardio as far as pervasive myths that get my blood boiling go. In a very broad sense, getting rid of fat is a simple factor of expending more calories that you take in.
And doing a crunch, which moves the body through a minuscule range of motion, is not going to expend many calories. Cranking the metabolism with some solid muscle building resistance training is going to go a hell of a lot farther in reducing your spare tire than racking up your crunch total.
I’ll even go as far as to say you can get the abs of a Greek god without doing a single crunch.
Any more myths I need to put to rest?
What are some of the fitness questions or myths you need answers to? Post them below and I’ll answer them ASAP!
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