Hey Angels, it’s Ally!
Recently, a friend of mine asked me a question that has really stuck with me since.
She asked; “Why is there so much misinformation in the fitness world?”
I focus a lot of my time toward helping people achieve their fitness goals, and through the years I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t make an effort to differentiate between the truth and the misconceptions. They just let all the false information slide, not knowing that it does affect them in one way or another.
We’ve all done the things that are proven to work – barbell training for strength, a caloric deficit for weight loss, cardio for endurance, etc.
But somehow, fitness remains mostly misunderstood.
I believe that misinformation spreads fast because it’s easier for people to accept. In fitness, and life in general, people love shortcuts. Our brains love following simple rules and instructions, and resisting change when it happens.
All these “boot camp” and “CrossFit” trends have become incredibly popular nowadays.
The problem again lies in the “no pain, no gain” attitude.
People, especially those who are new to the gym, tend to burn themselves out quick by doing advanced workout routines and drastically changing their diet in a short amount of time, leaving themselves under the impression that being fit and working toward your goals is something painfully difficult.
This behavior perpetuates the short-cut chasing.
It paints a picture of the health and diet world that doesn’t encourage people to make small, consistent changes, but instead go all-in toward what they’re doing, only to make their journey unpleasant and unproductive.
Today, I want to bust the most well-known myths about working out so you can get a clear perspective on what advice to avoid in the future.
When I say myth, I’m referring to information that is widely available and shared throughout the fitness community, and does nothing but give people the wrong impression about fitness, slowing them down from achieving their real goal.
That’s why busting these myths will be so sweet!
Let’s get into it.
Myth 1: The “Lean Muscle” phenomena.
Around the fitness and diet community, the term “lean muscle” comes in the opposite of the term “bulky.”
We all know that person who’s on a “lean muscle” gaining diet…
Well, let me tell you this – there’s no such thing as lean muscle. When people say this, they’re most likely referring to “lean body mass.” Technically, all muscle is lean muscle.
So when someone’s talking about building lean muscle, this is the absolute same as burning fat and building muscle. An increase in lean body mass is essentially the weight you gained minus the fat you gained.
So forget about the “no-carb lean muscle diets,” and focus on what works for you!
Myth 2: Strength training is all about machines and heavy weights.
The fact is, “heavy” is an extremely subjective term.
What strength training truly means is adding resistance when working your muscles. This resistance doesn’t need to come from the heavy weight on the bar.
Strength can also be built and maintained through bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, medicine balls, everything that essentially causes your muscles to contract against an external resistance.
What the increase in strength indeed refers to is your ability to continuously increase that load and improve your tone, mass, and endurance.
Once again, focus on what works for you! You can severely injure yourself by putting too much weight on a bar just so you can “build strength”!
Don’t do it, promise?
Myth 3: If you aren’t sore, you didn’t work out hard enough.
This myth is a big one for the “no pain, no gain” people.
The truth is, soreness is essentially your body’s response to inflammation. You can’t measure your progress based on one of the many chemical reactions going on inside your body.
You don’t need soreness to gain strength or mass. If you have a killer workout and you’re sore the next day, the only thing that means is that you expended a little bit more energy than you had to.
If you, however, have an unusually intense workout and wake up the next day sore-free, that means you expended just the right amount of energy.
Myth 4: You need to stretch before you start working out.
Although true to some extent, it’s mostly misunderstood. Everyone can agree that jumping right into your one rep max can cause more harm than good, but the static stretches should be left for after you’re done with your workout!
Replace the word “stretching” with a dynamic warm-up, and you’re going to achieve the desired result – improving the mobility and elasticity of your muscles, preparing them for higher intensity.
Foam rolling is a great option here, as it keeps your body moving and helps you improve your range of motion. This allows you to go deeper into your exercises and put the stress of the entirety of your muscle tissue.
Myth 5: Crunches will give you rock-hard abs!
Nope, nope, nope. Crunches surely will help you develop your abs and strengthen your core, but they definitely aren’t the most efficient exercise for the job.
Some people, especially newbies, tend to look at sit-ups and crunches as the holy grail of ab workouts! But why not try something that doesn’t involve lying on your back and straining your neck?
Different variations of the plank, the squat, the leg raise, and the reverse press up are all better alternatives that will help you build stability and strength in your midsection.
Myth 6: Sweating means intensity!
Then there’s the sweating misconception. A lot of people tend to believe that how much you sweat is directly related to how much calories you burn, and it’s really not that simple!
The reason you sweat in the first place is that your core temperature increases. When you exercise, your muscles release heat. So naturally, when you’re going through a tough workout, you tend to raise your internal temperature more, and in turn, sweat more.
But this isn’t the only variable!
The temperature you work out in also plays a significant role.
So does the humidity in the air.
In an area that’s particularly humid, you’ll feel like you’re sweating more. That’s because it’s not the release of sweat that cools your body down, but its evaporation. If your gym is really humid, chances are sweat can’t evaporate as easily, giving you the impression that you’re sweating more than usual.
Myth 7: Doing a lot of cardio is the best way to shed fat.
Sadly, no. Spending a few hours on the treadmill won’t mean anything if your diet (and the rest of your workout regime) don’t follow the same goal.
To be entirely accurate, to shed a pound of fat you need to burn around 3,500 calories.
Translate that to cardio, and that’s a pretty crazy number!
Just look at this chart created by the American Council on Exercise. The average person will burn around 14 calories a minute while running. So if you’re running a 10-minute mile, you’ll be burning about 140 calories (of course, other variables are included in your personal equation).
To achieve real weight loss, cardio just won’t suffice. You need to adopt a healthy diet and participate in activities that trigger EPOC – exercise post-oxygen consumption. EPOC means your body will be burning calories during the time after you completed your workout. You can achieve EPOC through high-intensity interval training (known as HIIT) and different types of resistance training.
Myth 8: Too much protein is bad for your kidneys!
This myth is valid only for a tiny percentage of people, and shouldn’t be considered general advice.
Researches show that a surplus of protein may stress the kidneys and further complicate the condition of people who have an existing kidney disease.
No evidence suggests that high protein intake has any effect on renal and hepatic function.
If your kidneys are healthy, you will have no problem handling high-protein diets, as long as you stay hydrated!
Myth 9: Don’t eat carbs before bed, you’ll get fat!
We’ve all heard this sentence at some point.
The fact is that, even when you’re asleep, your body needs energy. After a hard day (or a hard workout), your body will digest carbs and replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles while you’re sleeping. Sure, an excess of carbs will promote storing fat, but… so will an excess of anything, really.
*A lot of carb-rich foods can help your body release the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin enables your body to achieve more profound relaxation and better sleep!
And finally, the crème de la crème of fitness misconceptions…
Myth 10: Spot reduction.
If you ever hear someone tell you that you can “target fat loss” to certain areas of your body, you have the God-given right to remove yourself from that conversation!
If that were true, everyone would be walking around rocking a 6-pack, just because they did a gazillion crunches.
Not a single study has proven this. The scientific consensus points to the fact that when you’re losing fat, you’re losing it all around your body.
I feel like nine was enough, but I really couldn’t make a fitness misconceptions list without this!
Where does that leave us…
In a world full of false information, the people are always talking about the “right way” to do things – and that’s where the problem lies. For the brain, the “right way” is most often the “easy way.” For you, however, that’s not the case.
I hope I managed to debunk a few misapprehensions for you, and from what I see and hear in the community, these are the ones that have the most damaging effect on your long-term gains and mind frame toward fitness.
So if you’re new to the gym, always order the information you receive in the following way;
- What you feel like is best for you.
- What science (or your coach) says.
- Everything else you hear (from friends, and on the Internet).
By only allowing the right type of things to influence you, you’ll be on your way to a positive and productive fitness journey, and in time, you’ll learn more about yourself and what works best for you.
Once you have that experience, all the myths and misconceptions about fitness will slide right off you, I promise.