Welcome back for part 2 of 5 in the series, if you’ve not read part 1 yet you can do that here.
Then come back and join us for the next 10 myths that refuse to die.
You can’t get in good shape without supplements
This one is total BS.
Now, before people start getting riled up and offended, I’m not saying supplements can’t or don’t help, I’m just saying they aren’t necessary for success.
Generally speaking, supplements are 1-2% of your progress and it’s more than possible to hit your goals without using them at all. The truth is you can lose fat with fat burners, you can build muscle without creatine and can get enough protein without protein shakes.
The bottom line is, there is no magic pill or quick fix powder that will give you overnight results with minimal effort. Real change and long lasting results come from applying progressive overload and consistently whilst eating appropriately for your goal. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re not sore the day after then your workout wasn’t effective
Another myth that’s been around for ever.
Soreness if often seen as an indication that your workout was effective when in fact all soreness indicates is inflammation and the subsequent chemical response in the body to this inflammation.
This can be a result of several factors; you’ve just started working out again, you tried something new, you’re performing the exercises with bad form or you performed a particularly tough workout.
Whilst it’s true that training causes microscopic tears in the muscle which repair and regrow whilst you rest, the body should adjust to your workout programme and stop making your sore after the first 1-3 sessions.
Week to week you should not be sore from your workouts.
To truly measure the effectiveness of your workouts you need to track your progress towards your goals.
A few key stats to track are:
- Body measurements
- Daily weight and a weekly average
- How your clothes fit
- Your strength in your workouts
- Photos to give you a month by month look at your progress
The bigger muscle is always the stronger muscle
When you workout, your body adapts to the stimulus through neural, muscular, hormonal and skeletal changes to make you bigger, faster and/or stronger. However, different training goals and methods bring about different results, as such training to be big is not necessarily the same as training to be strong.
Muscle mass primarily occurs due to an increase in the size and number of small muscle fibres in the muscle. Strength on the other hand primarily occurs as a result as result of biomechanical adaptions.
This is why heavy load and low reps (1-4 reps with 80-90% 1RM) will increase strength but do little for muscle size. Moderate reps and moderate load (8-12 reps with 60-70% 1RM) on the other hand will increase muscle size but do less for strength.
This is why a small strength athlete can often out lift a big bodybuilder.
You have to eat breakfast
Listen to some people and you’ll easily believe that if you don’t eat breakfast you’ll soon perish and die.
However, a look at the research shows that a lot of the usually touted evidence that says you need to have breakfast “lacks probative value” and involves “biased research reporting.” One study shows that in actual fact the belief in the idea we need breakfast outweighs any scientific evidence pointing to the same conclusion.
Additionally a review paper shows that existing evidence in favour of eating breakfast is weak and that research shows that studies actually show not cause and effect link between skipping breakfast and energy balance.
The point is this; some people get hungry in the morning and function better with breakfast whereas others can forego breakfast to eat later in the day and function just as well.
In regard to weight loss or gain, your total calorie intake across the day will be the determining factor, not whether or not you ate breakfast.
You need to eat pre and post workout meals
“Do I really need to eat before and after I workout?”
It’s one of the most common questions in the fitness industry and until relatively recently the answer given to you would have always been a resounding YES.
However, research published by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld casts a shadow of doubt over pre and post workout nutrition.
They found that the post-workout meal is only truly important if a pre-workout meal had not eaten, but if a pre-workout meal had been eaten then the importance of the post-workout meal was largely diminished.
The study goes on to show that unless you are planning on training a second time later in the day (and therefore needed to restore glycogen stores more immediately) or had not eaten a pre-workout meal, then as long as daily caloric needs were met across the 24-hour day period there is no particular benefit gained from having a post-workout meal.
My advice? There is nothing inherently wrong with a post-workout meal so if you want one then have one, but know that you don’t need to. Unless of course you didn’t eat a pre workout meal in this case a post workout meal is actually very important for you.
You can get abs by just doing ab exercises
You should know from Part 1 of the series that you can’t spot reduce fat, so don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you can reveal your six-pack by crunching your way to low body fat.
Truth be told you could train your abs every day but if your body fat % is not low enough you’ll never see them as they’ll be hidden away under a layer of fat.
Truly impressive abs are made through the combination of smart training and good nutrition.
You must always use the deadlift, squat and bench press
No doubt these exercises (dubbed the big 3) are great and when used properly they can help build fantastic strength and result in muscle hypertrophy. However, they are not the only exercises that can do this.
Often, you’ll hear people say that these 3 lifts have to make up the foundation of any weight lifting programme and sure, for beginners this can be a useful place to start but there is no secret code that says they have to be present in all your training splits.
In fact, it’s still 100% possible to build your ideal body without these exercises. There are various alternative exercises that can be just as effective, for example; weighted dips for the chest, weighted chin ups or bent over rows for the back and weighted lunges for the legs are all worthy alternatives.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the ‘big 3’ and I often used variations of them in my training (i.e. incline bench press) but there is something wrong with the idea that if you’re not using them then you’re doing something wrong.
You can out-train a bad diet
When I say bad diet here I’m not just talking about food with low nutritional value but also a bad diet in respect to not knowing your calorie or macro needs, eating without thinking how it relates to your goal and thinking that if you keep exercising then you can just keep eating and it’ll work itself out.
As much as you’d like to believe that you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want as long as you are exercising this simply isn’t the case. The body needs each macronutrient to function optimally, not to mention eating at a uncontrolled calorie surplus can lead to rampant weight gain and eating in unrecorded calorie deficit can lead to the loss of muscle mass.
If you really care about reaching your goals then you will address your nutrition as well as your training.
You should stretch before you lift weights
We’ve been led to believe for a long time that we need to warm up, stretch and then start working out. However, evidence now shows that stretching before you lift weights negatively impacts performance in the weights room.
One research study shows that static stretching before weight lifting causes a significant reduction in strength, even in stretches lasting as little as 45 seconds or less.
Another study also found that stretching the lower body before working out decreased strength and stability in the lower body during exercise.
Finally, another study found that static stretching before working out decreased strength in lower and upper body exercises in both trained and untrained men.
Training hard means you can eat what you want
I’m just going to come out and say this right away…just because you’ve worked out for an hour doesn’t mean you can drink a Starbucks frappachinolatte and eat a pastry because you’ve “earnt” it.
This is the crux of the issue and probably one of the biggest reasons people struggle to lose weight. The idea you can eat whatever you want because you’ve just done a workout is a slippery slope to fat gain or at the very least, no change.
To illustrate this let me show you how many calories* you would approximately burn in an hour of exercise in comparison to some of your favourite snacks:
- Walking = 300 kcal Medium Latte = 190kcal
- Football = 550 kcal Chocolate Croissant = 400 kcal
- Swimming = 400 kcal Large Pizza Slice = 330 kcal
- Yoga / Pilates = 250 kcal Krispy Kremes Donut = 190 kcal for plain glazed
- Weightlifting = 300 kcal Fruit Smoothie = 260+ kcal
*all values are approximate and calories burnt are based on a 160lb male exercising for an hour
It’s important to remember that it is a lot easier, not to mention quicker to eat large amounts of calories than it is to burn them.
Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t include foods you like in your nutrition plan, of course you should but they need to be accounted for as part of your daily calorie intake, not added at will because you did a workout.
Another 10 myths down, only another 30 to go.