50 Fitness Myths You Shouldn't Believe (Part 5)

50 fitness myths that really need to die - part 5

Welcome to the final part of the 50 fitness myths series.

If you missed parts 1, 2, 3 or 4 go back and read those first.

 

Myth 41

The Body Can Only Process 30g Of Protein Per Meal

This myth has been around for as long as I can remember and although it has been disproven by numerous people it still circulates in all the fitness and bodybuilding forums.

I’ve even seen it discussed on Reddit but thankfully the community is switched on and shut the myth down (51).

Where did the myth come from?

I’m not sure anyone knows 100% but the consensus seems to be that it was sparked by a research paper looking at the absorption rate of protein, which found that 30g so protein was absorbed within 3 – 4 hours (52).

From this study, the myth was born.

The truth?

It doesn’t matter if you eat 10g or 50g your body will be able to process it and put it to use.

A study (53) looked at the effect of protein feeding patterns on protein retention in young women and found “no significant” difference in whole-body protein turnover or whole-body protein synthesis and breakdown when their protein was given either mainly in one meal or split across 4 meals.

Another study (54) looking at the effects of intermittent fasting on whole-body glucose, lipid and protein metabolism found that fasting had no effect on protein metabolism even when daily protein intake when it was consumed within a 4-hour eating window.

The bottom line is you don’t need to eat your protein in 30g increments, so do whatever works best for you.

 

Myth 42

There is a One Size Fits All Approach

This is an interesting one as to a degree everyone could see results following the same well-structured training and nutrition programme. However, just because you would see progress (you build muscle, lose fat, get stronger or faster, etc) it doesn’t mean it’s best for you.

@@If your training is not goal specific for what you want to achieve then although it may work it still wouldn’t be right for you.@@

At the end of the day people train for all sorts of reasons; better aesthetics, strength, confidence, performance, to lose fat, build muscle or injury prevention/rehab. When deciding on a programme to follow you need to consider what you want to achieve and in what time frame not just blindly pick what worked for someone else.

It might be tempting to do the ‘hot’ new workout from the latest bodybuilder or athlete but if you’re not an athlete, bodybuilder or powerlifter then training like one isn’t going to optimal for you.

 

Myth 43

You Can Get Lasting Results Quickly

I know in the world we live in where most things can be obtained instantaneously, so, it’s only normal to want to apply this to fitness but it just doesn’t work this way.

@@Anything or anyone promising you instant and rapid fat loss, muscle gain or six-pack abs is lying. It’s just not going to happen, all this will get you is instantly is hungry, disappointed and fed up.@@

I get it, some people think these fad diets work because they see masses of fat loss or weight gain in the space of a week or two but think about it…

If you’re on an extreme diet with a huge calorie deficit and being told to exercise regularly then, of course, you’ll lose a lot of weight very quickly. The reality is though, that most of it will be water weight and all of it will come back as soon as you realise what you’re doing is unhealthy and unsustainable.

As much as you might wish you could get the results you want quickly, the body doesn’t work like that, if it did everyone would be in fantastic shape.

@@The TRUTH is you can effect incredible change in your body but it will take time and consistent effort NOT short-term effort and unrealistic expectations.@@

You have to truly invest in yourself and embrace the journey to see the changes you want to see.

 

Myth 44

You Must Do Cardio to Get Lean

It’s not too surprising to hear someone say that you can’t get lean without cardio, they’ll follow this by telling you how they slave away at the gym doing 60mins of cardio every day and yes, it’s tough but “it’s the price you pay for being lean.”

The reality is that all this means is that this person doesn’t understand calories and the energy balance equation.

To lose weight all you need to do is burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis over time. Then to get lean you need to perform regular strength training to preserve muscle mass and eat appropriate nutrition to assist in this process whilst giving you the energy you need to function.

No excessive cardio needed, in fact, no cardio needed at all.

This is not to say that cardio cannot be useful for losing weight and getting lean. You can use it strategically to burn more calories without lowering your intake or to eat more calories when in a deficit. Not to mention some cardio, whether it’s walking, team sports or running is good for general health and useful as a conditioning tool. It’s just not necessary.

 

Myth 45

Weight Training Will Make Women ‘Bulky’

This is probably one of the worst offenders on this list of 50 myths.

It’s completely unfounded and has led many women astray and down the wrong training route through fear that touching a barbell will make them muscle bound and ‘bulky’. I want to make it abundantly clear that lifting weights without consideration for effective programming and nutrition will not make anyone ‘bulky’ or muscular, man or women.

@@It takes consistent effort and dedication to build muscle. It’s nothing something that will happen by accident or after just a handful of workouts.@@

The truth is there are numerous benefits women (and men) can get from lifting weights regularly.

  1. Injury prevention (55)
  2. Increase bone density (56)
  3. Increases resting metabolic rate (57)
  4. Builds muscle and strength
  5. Improve posture
  6. Stress reduction and mood improvement

 

Myth 46

You Get Cramp Because of Dehydration

Believe it or not, cramps are a relative mystery in the fitness and research world (58). Of course, we’ve all suffered from them at one point or another and most certainly know someone who suffers from them more regularly.

Interestingly enough the explanation that’s usually rolled out of cramp is a result of dehydration is not completely accurate.

There is a host of medical conditions that can lead to cramps and as such there are very obvious reasons for their occurrence in their circumstances, however, outside of this are tonnes of people like yourself who suffer from cramp and have no underlying medical reason.

The usual, ‘you have cramp because you are dehydrated’ reason has been debunked through a study on athletes which showed that those who suffered from cramps were no more or less hydrated than those who didn’t.

Which brings us to the idea that excessive sweating can result in the fluid that bathes the connection between muscle and nerve becoming depleted of sodium and potassium, leading the nerve to become hypersensitive and resulting in cramp.

However, there is no concrete science to back up this theory and the Doctor who proposed this theory has his research sponsored by Gatorade. You can draw your own conclusions.

Another idea (59) put forward is that cramping is the results of an imbalance between nerve signals that excite and inhibit a muscle’s contractions and that fatigue leads to an imbalance of these signals which leads to cramping. However, again there is no rigorous research to substantiate this claim.

Again, we are left wondering what the real cause of cramp is. The only thing we do know at the moment is, that no one is really sure.

 

Myth 47

Ice Baths Help to Speed Up Recovery

For a long time, ice baths have been synonymous with recovery after exercise. We’ve all grown accustomed to hearing or even seeing athletes head straight for the icy depths of the bath post exercise.

The idea is that the ice baths will:

  1. Force blood vessels to constrict and flush out waste products like lactic acid
  2. Reduce swelling and tissue breakdown
  3. Decrease metabolic activity and slow down the body’s physiological processes

Then rewarming post ice bath will increase blood flow which is believed to improve circulation and in turn, the healing process.

A study conducted by the University of Queensland took 21 physically active men and got them to strength train twice a week for 12 weeks. After the workouts, half the group had an ice bath for 10mins in 10 degrees Celsius, whilst the other 11 participants performed a warm down on an exercise bike.

At the end of the 12 weeks, muscle strength and mass increased more in the active warm down group than the ice bath group (60).

A review of the available literature on the study also found evidence that ice water immersion can be ineffective as a form of recovery when compared to active recovery (61).

More research needs to be done to know definitively but as it currently stands there is research to show that maybe ice baths aren’t the holy grail of recovery we’ve been told they are and certainly not worth the time and pain for the recreational gym goer.

 

Myth 48

Machine Weights Are Ineffective at Building Muscle

The debate rages between the effectiveness or lack thereof of machine-assisted resistance training for building muscle. Some people will swear by them and others will avoid them like the plague opting to stay in the free weights section of the gym.

Whilst it’s true that when using machine weights, you’re missing out on the benefits of training your balance, coordination and smaller stabiliser muscles this doesn’t mean machine weights are worthless.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of both.

Free Weights

Pros:

  • You can move in three dimensions; back, forwards, up, down and side to side. This more closely mimics everyday movements
  • You have to work to stabilise the weight which trains the little muscles that otherwise wouldn’t be trained using machines
  • More exercise variation

Cons:

  • You often need a spotter for heavy lifting
  • Takes longer to learn proper technique
  • Greater risk of injury when not performed properly

Machines

Pros:

  • Easy to learn
  • Can isolate muscle groups more easily
  • Can lift heavier without assistance
  • Good for elderly populations or rehab

Cons:

  • Fixed movement path that does not allow you to deviate
  • Doesn’t work stabiliser muscles
  • Lifting heavy with poor form due to the machine position can lead to injury

As you can see there are pros and cons to both free and machine weights. However, ultimately you can build muscle using either as long as you train consistently and apply progressive overload.

 

Myth 49

You Can’t Work Out If You’re Sick

If you’re like most people then at the first sign of illness you swear of exercise until you’re feeling 100% better. I understand it, it’s the common sense move but depending on the symptoms and severity you don’t have to pack it all in whilst you recover.

The general rule of thumb is to split the symptoms between above and below the neck.

If you wake up with a sore throat, cough, runny and/or congested nose feel free to do some low-intensity exercise like yoga or walking and see how you feel. If your symptoms continue to improve day by day then slowly build the intensity of your exercise back up to normal as you recover.

However, if you wake up with muscle/joint pain, a fever, vomiting or diarrhea then steer clear of exercise entirely. Monitor your symptoms and don’t return to exercise until they are cleared up.

Keep in mind these are just guidelines and if you do not feel up to exercising regardless of the severity of your symptoms then don’t force it.

 

Myth 50

Women Need Different Exercises to Men

It’s true men and women generally tend to have different goals.

Guys tend to focus more (rightly or wrongly) on the upper body, whereas women generally prefer to work their lower body more.

However, this doesn’t mean that women need different exercises to men. When choosing exercises as part of a training programme it should come down to the effectiveness of the given exercise in relation to your training goal, your ability to perform it with good technique and your access to the necessary equipment.

@@There are no exercises that are for men only, just as there are none that are for women only.@@

In fact, men and women can benefit equally from the same exercises and shouldn’t shy away from any particular exercise because they perceive it not to be sex appropriate. Men and women should both use big compound movement as the base of their training programme adding isolation exercises as necessary.

 

Summing Up

There we go, 50 myths busted, if you missed any of the earlier sections check those out below.