There are many myths that exist within the health and fitness industry. Most of what follows in this post are things that I STILL hear on a regular basis and throughout my years of working with athletes and clients. I can tell you that these are all areas that everyone needs to hear are myths and the perception on these will hopefully begin to change.
Please share this article with your friends so they too can become an informed consumer of health and fitness materials.
More is Better
This myth is one that recently has become mainstream due to the popularity of CrossFit. This is not a post to degrade the CrossFit community. The more is better myth comes from people thinking that if they did not feel like they were going to throw up or pass out from their workout that it “wasn’t a good workout”. The benefits of exercises can be seen at even a moderate intensity for 30-40 minutes. You DO NOT need to feel like you were hit by a bus the next day (Or later that night) to feel like you accomplished something with your workout. There are plenty of things that you are able to do and possibly not feel sore or fatigued and still obtain the many benefits of exercises. Sometimes just going for a walk for 20-30 minutes is all that your body needs.
The other reason this myth exists is our “more is better” mentality in society. The thought that if a little is helpful, more must be better. If I do 10 pushups and start to see results, then 20 must be better. Or 30, or 50, or 1000! This mindset will not only set you up for injury and long term compensations, but it will lead to burnout and leave an individual hating and giving up on exercise all together.
Who Needs Recovery?
Your body and mind, that’s who! When we lift weights or perform a workout, we are actually stressing our body and breaking down the muscles. If we keep breaking down our body and never giving it the chance to repair and remodel, we will not be able to maintain that pace. Recovery is one of the most important parts of a well-rounded program. Now, recovery means many things, this can mean a walk, a rest day or just making sure you are getting enough sleep. Our body craves recovery, so let it recover! This is a side effect of the more is better myth.
Calories are King
Now, this is not meant to be a nutritional website, but this is one that I couldn’t help but talk about. Calories are important, and tracking them may be helpful for some when trying to lose weight and become healthier. Where individuals go wrong is thinking that all calories are created equal. Obviously, 1000 calories of processed foods are much different than a meal made with whole foods. The key thing to understand that even if you are consuming 300 calories of a vegetable or nuts this is MUCH different than 200 calories of a ham sandwich on white bread. You may feel that you are fueling your body with less calories, but you will feel full and STAY full longer with the 300 calories rather than the 200 calories. So in the long haul of the day/week, consuming some higher calorie foods can actually help you eat less!
Weight Training Will Make Me Gain Weight
This one I hear mostly from the females that I have worked with (mainly because most males don’t mind gaining some muscle) First point to make, an increase in lean muscle will increase the amount of calories you burn at rest. This means that if you have more muscle than the person sitting next to you, you are burning more calories right now than they are. Burning more calories at rest, equals more weight lost with less effort. Increased muscle mass, increase calories burned, increased weight loss.
The other issue that most females have is that they feel that if they strength train that they will become “big and bulky” like the guy that they see at the gym taking photos in the mirror. This is the farthest from truth. Due to the differing levels of testosterone and estrogen in males and females, it would be almost impossible for a female to look like that guy at the gym unless she was taking some sort of testosterone enhancer. You can look toned and increase your lean muscle without adding bulk to your frame.
I Don’t Need Cardio
This is one that I hear mostly from the male population. Most men think that if they perform a cardio exercises that they will lose muscle mass. This is true, IF you perform the wrong type of cardio. Cardiovascular health is one of the most efficient ways to decrease your chances of heart disease and a host of other illnesses. Steady state cardio (think marathon runners) is what most people think of when they are concerned about muscle loss. As long as you have a plan going in (Interval training, keeping your time to a low level, increasing resistance) you will not have to worry about losing muscle mass while performing cardio exercises.
BMI or The Scale are the Only Things That Matter in Life
PLEASE don’t step on the scale every day. PLEASE! I understand that this is very hard for some people. Their whole day can be ruined (or joy filled) just by seeing a few numbers on a scale. There are so many factors that influence the number that is produced on the scale. Hydration level, stress level, time of day, digestion taking place, the position of the moon (I may have made that last one up but you get the point). The number on the scale is a great tool to use to keep yourself on track, but when it comes to body composition, it is only one tool in your toolbox.
BMI or body mass index is one of the most outdated ways to look at the health of an individual. Again, similar to weight, there are a lot of factors at play that can skew this number. It does not factor in for any data outside of your height and weight. That’s it, nothing else. It doesn’t take into account the makeup of that weight (Lean body mass vs fat mass) your skeletal makeup, your activity level, etc. This may have been a good starting point back in the 1970’s, but with technology and research that is available today, it is concerning that this is STILL the standard that is used to measure health.
Ian is a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist and all around active person. Comment below to ask questions, give feedback or interact with him!