Top 15 Common Exercise and Fitness Myths
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
"Information (or misinformation) has trickled down to us through the grapevine as rumors, hearsay, and advertising copy, popular articles by reporters... doctors untrained in nutrition, and industry "experts."
Dr. Udo Erasmus, Fats that Heal and Fats that Kill "It is easier to believe a falsehood that has been repeated a thousand times, than a truth that is said for the first time."
The idea of this section came from a great book by Rob Faigin, Natural Hormonal Enhancement, in which he details out several nutrition and fitness myths, some of which are referenced below.
Top 15 Common Exercise and Fitness Myths
1) Myth: To get a great body you need to workout everyday for 2 hours a day. Truth: More is not better. If you workout everyday you will become over-trained very quickly. Think quality over quantity.
2) Myth: Women who workout with weights will get big and bulky. Truth: Women do not have the hormonal make-up to get big and bulky like a man. Muscle is also more dense (muscle weighs more than fat) than fat and women will actually get smaller if they build muscle and lose body-fat, not get bigger.
3) Myth: Fitness and muscle magazines are a great source of fitness and exercise information. Truth: Most, if not all fitness and muscle magazines are extremely biased and full of lies with the only intention of selling more supplements which are owned by or affiliated with the magazine. The only purpose I can see for these magazines is to look at the pictures, anything else is a waste of time.
4) Myth: Counting calories is necessary in an attempt to lose body-fat. Truth: All calories are not created equal and have different affects on the body. Make calories count instead of counting calories.
5) Myth: No pain = No gain. Truth: Over-train = No gain. Too many people believe you need to train to failure every time you train to get results. This mentality is adopted by so many because they follow the programs of professional bodybuilders seen in muscle magazines who can get away with training like this because of the massive amounts of anabolic steroids many of them use and abuse. Training like a mad man to failure on each and every set in every training session will get you over-trained in no time leading to all the signs of over-training including muscle loss, injury, loss of sleep, and a weakened immune system. The key to success in resistance training in not always linear. It is not always a matter of adding more weight, sets, or reps each workout. A much better method of training is variation in the form of rep/set scheme and intensity and volume.
6) Myth: Cardiovascular exercise is the best way to burn body-fat. Truth: Periodized Resistance training is the best way to burn body-fat.
7) Myth: Low intensity/high duration cardiovascular exercise is the best form of cardiovascular exercise to lose body-fat. Truth: High intensity/low duration cardiovascular exercise is the best form of cardiovascular exercise to lose body-fat.
8) Myth: To get great abdominals you need to devote a lot of time to training your abdominals. Truth: The key to great abdominals is low body-fat. If your abdominals are covered in layers of fat it does not matter how much muscle development you have in your abdominals. Train your abdominals no different than you would any other body part. People are always shocked to hear that I only trained my abdominals for 5 to 10 minutes once or twice a week for the photos you see on the main page.
9) Myth: Monitoring your weight is necessary in an attempt to lose body fat. Truth: How long will it take before this myth dies? If your goal is to lose weight than the quickest way to do that is to lose muscle as well as fat. The point is that the faster a person loses weight the greater the percentage it will be muscle rather than fat. This is why all the quick fix diets and fad diets cause a lot of weight loss quickly because it is mainly muscle and water, not fat. This also helps explain why the weight is put back on as soon as the person resumes his or her normal eating patterns. The public has a fascination with weight that has created a huge misunderstanding between fat loss and weight loss. The best measure of fat loss is by how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror.
10) Myth: Squats are bad for the knees and back. Truth: This one is usually an excuse for people who do not want to push themselves through a challenging and demanding exercise like squats. Some people are just afraid to work hard. Any study in a peer reviewed journal will prove that squats are not bad for the knees and actually improve knee stability and reduce the risk of injury. The same holds true for the lower back. Squats strengthen the lower back not weaken it. It is bad form such as squatting with a rounded back instead of a slightly arched lower back, bouncing out of the bottom position instead of slowly lowering oneself, and going only halfway down instead of all the way down and exposing the knee to undue stress that give squats a bad rap, not proper form.
11) Myth: Eating fat will make you fat Truth: Eating the wrong types of fats such as saturated fats and trans-fatty acids will make you fat, inhibit your ability to build muscle, and make you unhealthy. Eating the right types of fats such as essential fatty acids and other types of unsaturated fats in the right amounts and ratios will help you lose fat, build muscle, and improve your health.
12) Myth: Using nutritional and bodybuilding supplements can be the difference between an average body and a great body. Truth: If you believe this than you are obviously reading way too many muscle magazines. Billions of dollars a year are spent on the fitness industry including supplements. The truth is that most supplements do not work and are based on hype and unproven studies. This is not to say that all supplements are bad or that someone should not supplement their diets. Supplements such as multi-vitamin/mineral, essential fatty-acids, and a high quality whey protein powder are supplements of importance but the point is that most supplements produce little to no results and with a high price tag. There is no substitute for proper nutrition. In the words of the great Hippocrates "Let thy food be thy medicine."
13) Myth: It is best to train the abdominals with high reps and multiple sets. Truth: The abdominals are made up of primarily fast-twitch muscle fibers, not slow-twitch (endurance) fibers, therefore they respond best to low reps with heavy weight, not high reps with little or no weight. This is one of the more common mistakes I see people make when exercising. Many people still believe that they can get rid of body fat in the abdominal area by doing a lot of abdominal work. How many times does it have to be said... You cannot spot reduce body fat!! The only way to get rid of body fat in the abdominals or any area of the body for that matter is through a combination of proper nutrition and exercise, period, end of story.
14) Myth: The smith machine is a safe and effective alternative for free weight exercises like squats, bench press, and military press. Truth: The smith machine only allows you to work with linear movement with the weight being stabilized for you instead of you stabilizing the weight. A persons stabilizers such as the external rotator cuff muscles in the bench press and military press and the patellar ligament and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the squat don't have to work because the machine is stabilizing the weight for them. You see the body normally operates in three planes of movement and with the smith machine it operates in only one. A person works their muscles in only one plane of movement and therefore sets themselves up for injury once they return to normal free weight exercises because those stabilizes have weakened due to not having to work. The smith machine is cause for many weight room injuries with the knees and shoulders. This is not to say that it is totally useless. The smith machine is good every once in a while for variety and is good toward the end of a workout to isolate a muscle group but it should not be used as a building block of a persons routine.
15) Myth: It is a good idea to wear a weight belt when weight training. Truth: Weight belts often do more harm than good. If all lifting is done with a belt the abdominals and lower back will not get enough training to fully develop. Also wearing a weight belt to tightly can restrict venous blood flow. Weight belts should be worn only during near-maximal or maximal sets of exercises directly stressing the back such as dead lifts and squats. In exercises that do not directly stress the back or during any sets of exercises that directly stress the back that are not near-maximal or maximal a weight belt should not be worn at all.
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