I snooped around the internet for another episode of my beloved "Exposed & Solved"-Series. This time it's all about fitness myths. And - heck - did I find some ridiculous myths to clarify! You might heard some of them, but I'm sure that most of them are new to you. Have fun!
1. Do crunches to lose belly fat
Let's get right into it with one of the most common myths out there: do thousands of crunches to get a flatter and more toned mid-section. Nope, not true - sadly. Doing crunches won't burn a lot of calories, so they don't help you to reduce body fat. And having visible abs is a body-fat-percentage-game.
The most effective way to get a toned tummy, is to do compound exercises (such as squats, deadlifts, military press and bench press), which burn a lot more calories throughout the day than crunches. Generally speaking, the more muscles are being used, the more calories are burned.
However, you can work your ass off in the gym, but that alone won't show your abs. You might know the saying "Abs are made in the kitchen". It's true, in order to get rid of that belly fat you have to be in a caloric deficit and reduce your body fat percentage. Period.
2. Sweat is fat crying
Sweating is not an accurate indicator of the calories you've burned. Sorry to disappoint you, but sweating more doesn't mean you burned more calories than usual, it could just mean that your gym is warm.
We sweat to cool down our skin and regulate internal body temperature.
Furthermore, it's possible that you burn a lot of calories without breaking a sweat. When I was doing cardio, back when I was in competition prep, I used to don't sweat at all. Especially at the end of the prep.
3. Endless cardio sessions are the best way to lose body fat
People are cardio-centric. So many people spend literally hours on the treadmill to shed inches.
Weight training is a much more effective way to drop those pounds than spending hours on doing cardio.
Of course, if you want to be able to run 10 miles without the need for a break, then go ahead. If your goal is fat los, toning and muscle gain, running mile after mile will not help you.
In fact, the more you run, the more efficient your body becomes - and our bodies adapt very fast. Meaning you'll burn fewer calories. When you do weight lifting you always put your body in a new situation, by adding more and more weights.
However, keep in mind while you can burn quite some calories in the gym, no amount of time at the gym can compensate for a bad diet.
4. Light weights are good for toning
Oh please, try to think logically: there are two things, which are necessary for 'toning' your body: decreasing body fat percentage and increase muscle mass.
Only using light weights won't help you with either. You have to challenge your body to get the benefits of weight lifting. Don't be afraid of putting more plates on the bar! I promise you, you will feel amazing afterwards and you'll see results!
In fact, you have to lift very heavy when you're trying to lose weight, in order to force the body to keep as much muscle mass as possible. Cardio combined with light weights will literally burn muscle mass, since you'll be in a catabolic state. So stay away!
5. Heavy weight training will make women look bulky
Girls, don't believe that! How, on earth, should this be possible? Take a look around in your gym. Most of the guys there, who do weight lifting, don't even look bulky. Or athletic for that matter.
So, how should it be possible that you, with only a very small amount of testosterone and less muscle tissue than men have to begin with, will look bulky when you lift weights?
Let's put this myth finally to bed. The truth is, the hormonal conditions necessary for bulking up aren't present in most of us. Of course, you will gain some muscle, but that's actually a very positive thing: Your posture will improve, a trimmer silhouette, structural balance, less injuries, increased fat loss and a better overall immune system.
Any woman that looks very muscular is simply using drugs. Heck, even most male "fitness youtubers" use drugs, even though they say they don't (but it's very obvious). So don't compare yourself to them.
If you can add 10kg/20lbs of muscle mass in 4 years of perfect training + dieting, that's a lot. Most women will only add a few pounds, which will make them look athletic and give them a strong bum.
You get it, go heavy!
6. Targeted fat loss is possible
You can't pick and choose areas where you want to burn fat.
Fat cells are located all across your entire body. Hence, if you want a flatter tummy, you have to lose overall body fat. If spot-reduction was a thing, don't you think you'd seldom see women with lower-body fat or men with "love handles"?
To get rid of excess weight, you'll need to burn more calories than you eat through a good diet. There's no other way. No gadgets, supplements or foil around your hips will change that. Don't let them fool you.
7. If you aren't sore, you didn't work out properly
Of course, you can expect to feel some kind of soreness one or two days after your workout, but you should never aim to feel pain while you're working out.
Furthermore, feeling sore isn't always a proper indicator of a good workout. Most of the time, I had a great workout without being sore the next day. A good recovery is key to prevent achy muscles.
The longer you train, to less often you'll be sore. In the beginning you should feel soreness of course, but it will wear off over time.
So repeat after me: soreness is not equal to muscle growth!
8. Walk 10.000 steps a day and you don't need any other exercise
Puh, tricky one. The 10.000 steps guideline is oriented on disease prevention for those who don't exercise at all. If this is your goal, then this myth is true. Although some research suggests only 8.000 steps is enough and there's no benefit after that. Walking more is not a problem of course, but the benefits of walking will end there.
In order to improve your fitness-level however, you should aim to add high-intensity-sessions (HIIT), strength training and some flexibility work to your routine. With each type of exercise you get specific benefits.
A good fitness routine combined with a healthy diet is key to keeping your body vital.
Nobody ever got strong from walking around ;)
9. Weight lifting turns fat into muscle
Oh my... this was even new to me. How should this even be a thing? Fat and muscle are two different kinds of tissues. Fatty tissue is found under the skin, sandwiched between muscles or around internal organs. Muscle tissue on the other hand, is found throughout the body.
The real benefit you get from weight lifting is building up the muscle tissue in and around fat tissue. Again, body fat reduction only works when being in a caloric deficit. You can lose body fat and build muscle at the same time, but not because you turn your body fat into muscles.
It's also claimed that muscle will turn to fat as soon as you stop with regular exercising. Bullshit! Those two different types of tissues never turn into each other. You'll simply lose your muscle mass, because the body breaks your muscles down into amino acids and uses them for cell repair/creation.
10. Don't squat your ass to the grass
Another myth, which was new to me, and as I read it, I was like "whuuuuut the f*..".
Squatting deep, so that your knees are over your toes, your butt to the floor, hamstrings covering calves, chest up is the most effective way of squatting. Plus, it's safe (if you are flexible enough to perform the full movement), because it's an everyday-movement.
Don't believe this rubbish. Aim to squat as deep as possible. Keep in mind, a proper form is more important than adding more weight to the bar! If you have flexibility issues or injuries, don't go as deep of course. Use common sense.
11. You need to get your post-workout meal in the minute you finished your workout
Absolutely not true! There's no single study out there, that has proven the myth of the "window of opportunity". But there actually quite a few, which prove it to be wrong.
This study - for example - shows, that you have up to 3 hours after working out that your body is in a state where it builds muscle rather than breaking it down.
And this study shows, that protein synthesis is elevated for 25 hours after your workout.
The most common and easy way is to have your PWO meal/shake around 1h after your workout. Don't rush it. If you have it 30m earlier/later, no big deal.
It's more important that your PWO meal has enough protein to trigger muscle protein synthesis. Examples would be:
- 30g whey protein
- 145g fish
- 130g beef
- 135g chicken
- 159g lentils (dry weight, uncooked) or ~455g cooked weight
12. You can't build muscle on a plant-based diet
Why? I mean, where is the logic behind it?
You can't build muscle mass on a plant-based diet, because you can't get enough protein in? You can! There are a lot of plant-based protein sources out there, such as tofu, lentils, nuts, quinoa, beans, broccoli and others.
There are also quite a lot vegan protein powders out there, like rice protein, hemp protein and pea protein. See, you have plenty of options, you just have to be open-minded.
Of course it's a little bit harder to get enough leucine in, so you have to "know more about nutrition" than the average meat eater, but if you know what you're doing, you can get the exact same protein amounts and amino acid profiles in, as a meat head.
13. You can't build muscle after the age of 30
You can build muscle at any age! You just have to constantly challenge your body and muscles and follow a protein-rich diet. It doesn't matter if you're in your 20's or late 40's: If you don't work out and eat unhealthy food, you'll get out of shape.
However, the older we get, the more challenging is gets to build muscles, but if you put in the work you'll see results.
By the way: the current Mr. Olympia (the most muscular person on the planet) is 37 and has no intention of giving up.
14. You can outrun a bad diet
No, no, no, no! We see it a lot: People, who work their asses off for hours on the treadmill, go home and eat like crap. Exercise will help you burn more calories, and doing the right exercise will boost your metabolism. But all this running is needles, if you're eating more calories than you burn. In this case, you'll gain body fat.
It's always 90% diet and 10% training. If the diet is wrong, you can't expect to see results, just because you're working out.
15. Women need different exercises than men
The type of exercises have nothing to do with gender.
If you want to lift heavy, do it! If you want to do boxing, go ahead. If running a marathon is your goal, no problem. The only difference between men and women, when it comes to exercises, is how we build muscle.
There are a few specific exercises that men/women tend to do more often than the other gender, like hip thrusts for women (men generally don't want to train their asses) and bench presses for men (women have very small pecs and don't get the same nice "plate-look" men get). But that's very specific. 98% of the exercises are for both genders.
There are so many conflicting ideas out there, about how to get in the best shape, it's really difficult to sort out which one is true and which one is not. I really hope, this little compilation helped you to sort things out.
In the end, you can always apply common sense and think this through. There are not secrets out there. If somebody is selling a "secret", they are just click bating you. Training and diet is 99.9% the same as it was in Arnold's days, because nothing has changed.
Hard work is all there is my friend.
Are there any other fitness myths you want to share with us? Please, let us know in the comment section below. Can't wait for some stupidity :)