Health and fitness is a booming industry and the demand to look, feel and perform better has never been higher. With that, comes a lot of information and advice; some good, a lot bad, and some down right ridiculous. This has made it next to impossible to decipher quality information from pure fallacies made up for the sake of telling people what they want to hear.
It’s no wonder so many people struggle with reaching their health and fitness goals; they’re too confused to make any progress! Drink 8 glasses of water per day. Lift light weights to get ripped and toned. Crunches are the best ab exercise to get a six pack. These are just a few of the most common myths looming in the fitness industry today. It’s time for the hard truth and to put some of these myths to rest. Here are some of the most common and RIDICULOUS health and fitness myths debunked.
1. You can turn fat into muscle – Muscle and fat are two separate tissues that cannot be converted into one another. Both fat and muscle can be increased or decreased depending on diet and activity levels. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat.
2. Crunches are the best exercise to get a six pack – Getting a six pack is more a product of eating a clean diet and reducing body fat than any ab exercise you do in the gym. If you want to see your abs, you need to get lean and that starts in the kitchen. Oh, and crunches are a shitty exercise by way.
3. Squats are bad for your knees – If this were true, I don’t think toilets would ever have been invented. If squats were food, they’d be raw broccoli. The truth is squats performed incorrectly are bad for your knees. When done right, its hands down one of the best exercises in the gym.
4. Deadlifts are bad for your back – Another controversial exercise but again the danger lies in having shitty form. If deadlifts were food, they’d be spinach. It doesn’t get any more functional than being able to pick an object up off the ground. Another gem of an exercise once you get the right form.
5. Crossfit is dangerous – I love this one. So is race car driving. So is NFL football. So is downhill skiing. People have suffered far more serious injuries from these activities but there never seems to be any controversy surrounding them. Crossfit can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t use appropriate progression but the same can be said for learning any athletic activity. Not exercising for 10 years, eating and drinking excessively, and working a high stress job – THAT’S DANGEROUS!
6. High rep Olympic lifting is dangerous – This method of training is quite popular in the Crossfit community and has got the general public in a complete state of paranoia. Come on people, smoking is dangerous, drinking and driving is dangerous, high rep Olympic lifting is just hard. Just because something is hard and requires some skill and athleticism doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. ANY exercise performed for high reps and under a state of fatigue will increase the risk of injury. There is no evidence that high reps are doing the body any harm. In fact, one could argue that it’s having the opposite effect as evidenced by the everyday participation in Crossfit boxes across the globe.
7. You can’t get strong doing Crossfit – Crossfit sure does get a lot of press. Contrary to popular belief, there is a great deal of strength training in Crossfit. All you have to do is look at the top performers and you’ll see some pretty impressive numbers. 500+ lb deadlifts, 400+ lb squats, and 300+ lb clean and jerks! Most people will train their whole lives and never hit those numbers.
8. You can’t put on muscle doing Crossfit – Last word on Crossfit I promise. The ability to get big and strong doing Crossfit is definitely in the realm of possibility, it’s all in the programming. There’s more to it than just endless burpees and kipping pullups. 9 times out of 10, you’re doing something with a barbell and that provides a lot of opportunity to get jacked! Ironically, most guys that go to the gym are training to hopefully one day have the body of a Crossfitter.
the real danger lies in standing on the sidelines
9. Lifting weights will make you bulky – If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one I’d already be retired. The truth is ladies (yes ladies I’m talking to you) you don’t have enough NATURAL testosterone to build muscle mass the way men can. In fact, lifting weights is the most effective way to burn fat, increase bone density, and sculpt your body. The body you want is just a few squats and deadlifts away.
ladies, there’s no shame is moving some weight!
10. Use lighter weights for toning and getting ripped – Let’s put an end to this “toning” thing right now. There is no such thing as toning. You’re either building muscle or you’re not. Your muscles already have tone, that’s what makes them muscles. What you’re after is definition and that comes from reducing body fat. As far as using light weight goes, this does not help you get ripped any faster. Getting ripped is about getting lean and getting lean is all about what you do in the kitchen regardless of how heavy or light you lift at the gym. In fact, lifting heavy will help you to better preserve your muscle mass as you start to cut weight.
11. Muscle weighs more than fat – What weighs more, a pound of concrete or a pound of feathers? Don’t answer that. Time for a little physics lesson. Muscle does not actually weigh more than fat, muscle is more DENSE than fat. Density is the weight of an object relative to its volume. This means that a pound of muscle is smaller and takes up less space than a pound of fat. This explains why a 200lb person with 10% body fat looks smaller than a 200lb person with 25% body fat. Who says you never use physics in real life?
muscle is more DENSE than fat!
12. Carbs are bad for you – Ridiculous. I’m not even sure when this phobia of carbs even began. Your body’s main source of energy during intense exercise, GLYCOGEN, comes from carbohydrates. What’s bad are shitty, processed carbs that provide no nutritional value. Quality sources from fresh fruits and vegetables are optimal for health and nutritional balance.
13. You can eat whatever you want as long as you workout – Sorry to break the news, but just because you workout doesn’t give you a free pass to eat whatever you want whenever you want. In fact, exercise increases your appetite and if you’re making crappy food choices, you could end up putting on excess weight and body fat. Eating sensibly will actually help you reach your goals faster with less effort in the gym.
not exactly the ideal post workout meal
13. Jogging is the best form of cardio – Jogging is certainly the most CONVENIENT form of cardio but hardly the most effective. Now, it certainly beats sitting on the couch eating a bag of baked Lay’s (at least they’re baked right?) but it’s a far cry from the best form of cardio. Long distance running can be quite catabolic (muscle wasting) reducing your ability to burn fat and increase the risk of chronic injuries. Shorter and more intense forms of cardio such as interval training are more effective at increasing cardiovascular endurance, reducing body fat, and preserving lean muscle tissue.
14. Stretch after you workout so you don’t get sore – There actually isn’t any scientific evidence that stretching reduces muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is actually a product of microtears in the muscle fibers as a result of the stress that was put on them. Stretching can provide temporary relief of stiffness and increase blood flow but does not reduce the level of soreness experienced after a workout.
16. Lifting weights makes you slower – If this were true, the strength and conditioning industry would cease to exist. Name a professional athlete (a good one) that doesn’t do any strength training. You can’t because there aren’t any. Lifting weights is actually one of the most effective ways to improve speed due to increased force production from stronger muscles. Carrying excess muscle mass can make you slower simply because you have more weight to carry around. However, an effective strength training program can make you bigger, stronger, AND FASTER!
17. Yoga and Pilates make you strong – If we’re talking about spiritual or emotional strength then maybe, but if we’re talking about good ol’ fashioned strength that allows you to lift heavy shit then it’s a hell no! Yoga and Pilates have many benefits but strength is not one of them. Without sufficient overload (resistance on your muscles), it is next to impossible to build any sort of notable strength. Pump some iron if you want to get strong.
nobody ever got strong from just doing the “downward dog”
18. Low fat is better for you – Sometimes. Low fat versions of foods can sometimes be higher in sugar which spikes your insulin levels and will cause you to store more fat. Eating high quality fats like avocados and fish are better for regulating your blood sugar levels and keeping you lean. Read food labels carefully and watch out for excess sugar.
19. Milk does a body good – No it doesn’t. One of the biggest farces in the health industry today. There is nothing in milk that is a necessity in the diet that can’t be found in other foods. In fact, most people, with the exception of those from Eastern European descent, are somewhat lactose intolerant. We are the only species that drinks milk beyond infancy so that should tell you how “vital” it is to our diet.
20. Eating late at night will make you fatter – What time of day you eat isn’t as important as the total amount of food you’ve eaten throughout the day. If you have already met your daily caloric limit then eating late snacks will push you over the edge. The excess calories is what causes you to store fat not eating them late at night.
21. Longer, slower cardio burns more fat – This is only partially true. When you work at low intensity, a larger percentage of the calories you burn come from fat. For example, when you are sitting on the couch watching TV, you are burning almost 100% fat! We all know how effective that is don’t we? Even though you burn a larger percentage of fat at low intensity, the OVERALL calories and fat burned is more at higher intensities. For example, if you burn 500 calories going for a 45 minute jog and 75% of those calories came from fat, you burned 375 fat calories. However, if you burned 700 calories from 45 minutes of interval training, and 60% of those calories came from fat, you would have burned 420 fat calories. More calories and more fat can be burned at higher intensity and you can preserve more lean muscle tissue.
hill sprints trump jogging any day of the week
22. Women need to do different exercises than men – If there’s one arena where men and women should be treated equally, it’s in the gym. What’s good for the dudes is good for the gals. The only difference between men and women when it comes to training is the adaptation to training. This is due mostly to differences in hormones and the distribution of muscle mass. High quality exercises will serve both sexes equally well.
what’s good for him is good for her
23. Machines are safer than free weights – Universal exercise machines were created to make exercise more convenient not more effective. They serve more as a marketing tool to attract naive customers to join their gyms. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing, machines can be just as dangerous, if not more, than free weights. Using improper form and/or too much weight can put you at risk for serious injury. Proper coaching and instruction is the key regardless of the equipment you’re using.
you can never go wrong with some good ol’ iron
24. Drink 8 glasses of water a day – I’m not sure where this one came from but I do admire the intention to keep us all hydrated. The truth is that everyone’s hydration needs are different depending on a variety of things including your food intake, activity level and muscle mass. A more active and muscular person will need to drink more water than a sedentary person who is half the size. Also, the food you eat also contains water and that is never factored into your daily intake. Using your thirst and the color of your urine are good measures of your hydration. 8 glasses may be a good starting point but it’s hardly an exact science.
25. Egg whites are healthier than egg yolks – Unless you are on a very restricted diet, there is more than one good reason to eat the yolk. There are loads of vitamins and minerals found in the egg yolk including vitamins A, B12, and D as well as calcium and omega-3s. The egg yolk provides far more nutritional value despite the extra calories (16 cals in egg white vs 71 cals in egg yolk).
26. If you aren’t sore, your workout wasn’t hard enough – Muscle soreness is definitely a sign that you stressed your muscles and they will need some time to recover but it doesn’t tell the whole story. You can have a great workout and have little to no muscle soreness and that is completely acceptable. Depending on how long you’ve been training, you may not experience as much soreness as a beginner. Use progress as your measuring stick for the quality of your workouts.
27. Cleanses are great for weight loss – You know what’s great for weight loss? Eating less and exercising more. You can lose a couple of pounds from a cleanse but that is usually water weight that is gained back once you start to eat regular food again. The body is actually quite efficient at cleansing itself with the kidneys and other antibodies. Eating nutrient dense foods, staying hydrated and limiting your intake of processed foods will be way more beneficial than any cabbage diet.
I hope this sets the record straight. Your path to greatness should now be a little more clear. Train hard and enjoy the ride!
What other issues do you struggle with when it comes to fitness? Drop a comment below!
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