Ever catch yourself thinking one of these statements? Have questions about the legitimacy surrounding the buzz? Look no further – we are here to bust 10 fitness myths you may have been asking yourself about for years:
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio vs. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): The ultimate battle. There may be situations where LISS is better than HIIT for an untrained person or a person coming back from injury, but for the majority of the fitness population HIIT training gets better results than LISS. This is due to the fact that HIIT training helps preserve muscle mass, increases max heart rate faster and takes longer to recover from (around 24 hours). All of these factors help burn more calories in the long run. So if you are wanting to burn fat and keep muscle mass HIIT may be the way to go.
Many a magazine will sell products or programs based on muscle confusion. The simple premise here is that you never do the same workout and have a huge variance of movements to “confuse” your body. But this does not mean you are confusing your muscles; it means you are not letting them get good at their job and making it harder for yourself to measure progress.
Getting good at squats or lunges takes practice, which means they need to be repeated regularly in a program. Sure, it is important to change up your workouts every now and then to avoid boredom and to continue to advance training, but over the years some the most effective programs have been those that are repetitive.
Bottom line: you need your workout to be fairly repetitive to ensure you are getting better. If you never repeat a movement or workout, how do you know if you are stronger, faster, or better conditioned than you were before?
This myth is often perpetuated by doctors and many of you with “bad” knees or back has heard this from an “expert”. The problem is that doctors do not know how to squat/deadlift, nor have the time to teach you if they did. So we can’t blame them.
My question is: If you have bad knees or back, do you think that doing nothing will make them better? How has that worked out so far? Squatting and deadlifting properly are necessities of life. Getting off the couch, picking up something off the floor are very similar movements to the aforementioned. Get a quality coach, learn how to do these exercises properly, get stronger doing them and experience your knee and back health improve.
I have heard this one from mostly runners and endurance athletes. They see a picture of a powerlifter that has done everything possible to get better bigger and they make the judgement that if they touch something heavy they will be less flexible.
The breakdown is pretty simple here: If you do resistance training through the proper range of motion on the big lifts you will likely increase your flexibility. This is due to the fact that your muscles have to stretch and contract through this range of motion effectively to keep your joints safe. The question here is: How much flexibility do you need? Do you just need to squat, run, or deadlift? Resistance training likely won’t hinder any of the above.
Many trainees think that they have to leave the gym absolutely crushed from their workout to see results. This is just simply not true. Not being able to walk right for 3 days after a leg workout does not mean that it was a successful workout – it means the exercise was too much for you to recover from.
While it does take hard work to get stronger or improve your appearance, smarter training will generally supersede harder training, given there is effort. “If some is good, then more must be better” is a silly thought, as is the “no pain, no gain” mentality. If you keep pushing this style of training you will get burned out or hurt.
This myth goes right along with the previous point. Sometimes life gets stressful, you get a hint of an injury, your training has hit a wall and you just need a break. De-load weeks or a couple days off could be your savior and prevent your body from burning out. In fact, getting the right amount rest is essential to helping your body lose weight. If you are an intermediate to advanced lifter and have been training hard for more than 8 weeks, then you should try out a rest week and see how your performance improves.
Very frequently I hear the goal of a woman that wants to do a chin up. Therefore, her trainer has her doing banded chin ups to get stronger. This method of “help” does not have great carry over to the actual chin-up.
Why? The most assistance the band gives is at the bottom of the movement and progressively gives less assistance the closer you pull yourself to the bar. The problem with this is that the hardest part of the movement is the bottom half where you are getting the most assistance. The best method to build a chin up is to use an assisted chin-up machine because you can progressively and linearly get stronger through the whole range of motion.
Most of us have probably fallen victim to this one. The biggest problem here is that if you’re working out correctly on a regular basis you have abs, they are just hiding under a layer of fat. The best way to get abs is to get your nutrition on point and drop some body fat percentage. Now once you are fairly lean, doing some extra ab work may help the muscle grow and therefore become a bit more visible.
This is probably the most frustrating myth out there and is tends to be most prevalent among women and endurance athletes. Trust me here: Lifting heavy will not turn you into a huge “muscly” freak.
For one, women do not naturally possess the amount of testosterone men do to gain large amounts of muscle mass (but that shouldn’t dissuade them). Secondly, it takes a very long time and dedicated nutrition program with excess calories to gain muscle mass.
What lifting heavy does do is improve the quality of the muscle, increase your metabolism by disrupting homeostasis, gives you a sense of accomplishment and adds some muscle mass to the average Joe or Jane.
The opposite end of the heavy spectrum is the myth that high rep training is best for distance activity, weight loss or “toning up”. High rep training 10 or reps is really only used effectively by bodybuilders. Oddly enough, they use this rep range because it is best at producing hypertrophy (muscle growth). Yet this rep range is used very frequently by women wanting to lose weight.
The average person training in this rep range is not training hard enough to get any result from this method. Most use this rep range because they have the assumption it should be light and easy. Light and easy has never got a single soul any measureable kind of results. When in doubt just make whatever set you are doing difficult and remember that heavy (all relative) produces the greatest results.