Sometimes I feel like I am working on an episode of the popular show Myth Busters while working as a personal trainer at the local gym. You hear them all day, but they never get old. Women will say, “If I lift a lot of weights will I get man arms?” Another person might enquire my thoughts on his 1000-calorie diet. Last but not least is the frat guy who wants to know about some crazy arm workout his old high school football coach taught him.
These questions are sometimes valid, sometimes annoying, but they are always funny. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite debunked myths about exercise in general.
Here is my top 10 fitness “Myths”
- 1. Lots of cardio is the most efficient way to lose body fat. MYTH!
Excessive cardio will strip muscle and body fat. This is definitely not the most efficient method to lose body fat. Once you begin stripping muscle tissue, your body becomes less efficient at burning body fat. Muscle is metabolically active, which simply means it stimulates the metabolism. For each pound of muscle you put on your body, you will burn up to 50 additional calories per day. If you strip muscle tissue, all you accomplish is sabotaging your efforts to efficiently reduce body fat. The right amount of cardio to accomplish your goal is what’s necessary!
- Lifting lighter weights will make your muscles more defined and tone. MYTH!
Muscle responds to overload. If you lift heavier weight with sufficient intensity, you will create more microscopic tears in the muscle. When the muscle recuperates, it will become tighter and stronger. However, your supplemental nutrition must support your workouts. Reduced body fat is what creates the “lean and tight” look, not high reps (15 plus reps). Reduced body fat is a result of efficient weight training, proper amounts of cardiovascular exercise and nutrition that places one in somewhat of a calorie deficit (less than maintenance). That’s how you get defined! P.s. never use the word toned. It makes you look stupid. What is tone?
- A woman will get muscles as big as guy if she lifts heavier weight. MYTH!
This myth never seems to die. A woman has approximately one third of the testosterone of a man. Unless she is on anabolic steroids, growth hormone or other enhancing drugs, a woman will never achieve the muscular size of a man. However, she can get a degree of muscularity that makes her lean and tight.
- Calories are all that counts when trying to lose body fat. MYTH!
Ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats are also important. The key in losing body fat and getting lean is controlling and manipulating insulin levels. In simple terms, when we consume excessive calories or excessive amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates at one meal, the body’s blood sugar rises. When this happens, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to lower the blood sugar levels.
- Muscle weighs more than fat. MYTH!
If I place one pound of muscle on a scale and one pound of fat on a scale, they will both weigh one pound. The difference is in total volume!
- There is a perfect workout routine. MYTH!
There is no “best and only way” to workout. I receive many questions concerning what is the best cardio machine, the best exercise for back-width, the best routine to work the quads and so on. In reality, it’s all good if it works for you, but you don’t want to stay with any of it for too long. The body will adapt to any exercise routine in 4-6 weeks and the mind will experience boredom if you stay with the same routine for too long of a time. Vary volume of sets, time between sets, reps, exercises, cardio, etc. Manipulate your routine every 4-6 weeks and view change as the key constant that will lead you to success.
- The best way to lose fat is to eat very few calories. MYTH!
Always consider your body from the inside out. Your body’s main objective is to survive. It doesn’t care if you want to lose body fat. In fact, it would prefer to increase fat in case of famine. Internally, the body has no idea that it’s the year 2008. It could still be 10,000 years ago for all it cares. Survival is its number one objective. If you don’t eat very much (less than 1,200 calories), the body perceives an emergency and will accommodate you by holding onto stored body fat. As well it should, because it has no idea when it will be fed again. It sees the situation as you are starving and slows other functions down to conserve energy or calories if you will
- The best way to reduce the hips, glutes or abs is to perform exercise to isolate the area. MYTH!
It is physiologically impossible to spot reduce. You can’t lose only in one area of the body because body fat comes off unilaterally. Typically, the first place you tend to gain is the last place you lose. For most women that is in the hips and upper thighs and for men it is in the abdomen area. Again, the route to success for those stubborn hips is resistance exercise, cardio and sound nutrition.
- The best way to gain muscles is to eat a lot. MYTH!
This is always the question from the local frat boy looking over his tear out from the last issue of Muscle and Fitness. Yeah just eat what ever you want and you will get big. If it worked that way I would be challenging for the Mr. Olympia, because I sure can eat. You have to eat a lot and it has to be quality food. Trade in the McDonalds and Tacos for egg whites, chicken, and oatmeal.
- The product on T.V. that is cool, easy-to-use will help me to get a six pack. MYTH!
If you only knew how much those late-night infomercials piss me off! They barely mention nutrition when attempting to sell their crappy machine of the week. Nutrition is the component of attaining a flat stomach. Nutrition, along with resistance exercise, helps to increase muscle tissue and cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories.