You’ve already read the same fitness and health myths over and over, but here’s 30 you’ve never seen before but will totally agree with!
1. If a person can lift a lot of weight, this means they can throw a hard punch.
The ability to, for instance, chest press heavy weight does not recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers in the same way that throwing a super-hard punch does. Pushing heavy weight is a slow movement, and delivering a knockout punch is a fast, whip-like movement.
Efficient punching also involves technique. It’s possible for a person (even absent martial arts training), who’s weightlifting is nothing to brag about, to execute a punch hard enough to knock someone flat on the ground.
Conversely, a person who can bench press a lot and curl huge dumbbells may actually have a lame, slow punch.
2. You should keep moving in between weightlifting sets.
What’s the point? Moving in between sets means your next set won’t be an all-out effort because you didn’t give your body maximum rest in between sets.
Now, if your sets, even if they’re preceded by passive rest, are of submaximal effort, maybe jogging in place in between won’t matter.
But if you realize the value of all-out effort for a particular “big compound” strength training exercise, jogging (or some similar movement) in between sets of this exercise will interfere with your hardest effort.
If you want a continually elevated heart rate, did you know that it will remain elevated in between intense compound sets if your rests aren’t that long?
3. How much you can bench is the No. 1 indicator of strength.
Says whom? Deadlift, anyone? Squat, anyone? Weighted pull-up, anyone? Beastly sled push? Be very careful here.
Many men who can bench press over 315 pounds for reps aren’t even bending their arms past 90 degrees because 1) Their big barrel of a chest cuts short the range of motion, and 2) They have “T-rex” arms.
Many of these same monster-bench pressers can’t do a single pull-up or bar dip, and may very well have a lousy deadlift. A woman may have a crummy bench but a 150 pound (total) dumbbell press with complete range of motion. Now that’s strong!
4. Men with big, hulking muscles aren’t very bright.
This myth was perpetuated by skinny bookworms who felt better by convincing themselves that the guys with the big strong muscles were short on brains.
“Muscle heads” weren’t born that way. Many of them were once scrawny weaklings. A person’s IQ does not drop as his muscle volume increases.
If anything, cognitive skills improve, because exercise enhances brain function, and a comprehensive workout regimen develops focus and concentration in the individual.
5. Training that focuses on grip strength is a waste of time.
Actually, a weak grip is linked to poor survival, says Dr. Carolina Ling’s study. The study involved 555 people at least age 85, but you shouldn’t wait till you’re 85 to develop better grip strength.
A poor grip, plus a greater decline over time, are linked to greater all-cause mortality. The researchers were not able to explain the association.
However, common sense says that people who do things earlier in life that increase grip strength (either deliberately or incidentally such as certain hobbies or professions) will experience increased longevity because these physical activities benefit health in general.
6. A person is healthy just because he or she lifts weights.
A person is always in better shape if he or she lifts weights, relative to how they’d be if they didn’t do any strength training at all.
Namely, joints and muscles will be much healthier and able to tolerate more stress, than if this same individual didn’t do any lifting.
However, just because you lift weights doesn’t mean you can indefinitely get away with eating lots of junk food and coming up short on the fruits and vegetables. Total health comes from a complete, well-rounded plan that includes high nutrition, adequate water intake and quality sleep.
7. If you have only 10 minutes for exercise, you may as well skip it.
If you think exercising for 10 minutes isn’t worth it, grab a jump rope and jump for 10 continuous minutes. If this is too difficult, go for five minutes.
If you have a treadmill at home, run 7 mph for 10 minutes. If this is too difficult, drop down to 5.5. If it’s too easy, go faster or add an incline. If you have a staircase, run up as fast as possible, then trot down, and keep doing this for 10 minutes.
If this is too easy, hold dumbbells or go up two steps at a time. If you think any time devoted to exercise isn’t worth it, this means you’re not working out hard enough.
8. You can get enough exercise if you don’t sweat.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t sweat”? The human body has millions of sweat glands. If you “never sweat,” it’s because you never work up to a point where you body needs to sweat. In other words, you put no zest into your exercise routines.
Or maybe you never exercise at all. Did you know you can actually work up a coat of sweat just from curling dumbbells? It all relates to intensity and technique. So if you “never sweat,” realize this is because you never work out hard enough.
9. Bodybuilders are the strongest weightlifting athletes because they’re the biggest.
Well, this depends on how you define “strong.” An Olympic style competitor and a competitive powerlifter of elite calibers will easily “lift” more weight than the athlete who specializes in flexing huge pecs, lats and quads on stage.
And we all know that the bodybuilder can be massive in size, yet be incapable of moving the poundage that the other kinds of lifters can move.
However, who’s better at pull-ups and weighted bar dips: the snatch specialist or the physique specialist? Who can pull more weight in the bent-over dumbbell row? The powerlifter or the bodybuilder? And have you ever seen a strongman competitor who wasn’t freaking huge?
10 Gardening substitutes for structured exercise.
The opposite is true: More than ever, structured exercise is necessary if you garden. The problem with gardening as your only source of working out is that it involves a lot of non-neutral spinal alignment, one-sided motions, and other maneuvers in which the body is off-kilter and crooked.
And who focuses on proper form while gardening? Furthermore, there is no progressive overload.
Gardening can be hard on the back, plus joints since it involves prolonged kneeling and squatting. Many people end up with orthopedic injuries from gardening.
Finally, the cardiovascular component is missing. Structured workouts will make you more efficient at
11. For best information about exercise, consult with a physician.
Medical doctors are trained to diagnose and treat disease. They are not trained in exercise program design.
To put it more simply, medical school and residencies do not teach medical students how to properly use exercise equipment, how to strengthen the lower back, or the safest and most effective way to gain cardiovascular fitness.
Though you may feel more comfortable getting a complete physical before embarking on a serious fitness program, your next step is to consult with a certified personal trainer who exhibits deep knowledge about exercise principles and how to stay motivated.
12. In order to compete in female physique contests, you must know gymnastics.
A background in gymnastics or acrobatics certainly helps, but not having such a background doesn’t doom you to a fifth place finish, either.
Routines in “fitness” competitions involve a combination of strength, flexibility and endurance. When these three features are mastered, then a variety of stunning routines can be learned.
13. It’s smart training for very overweight, out of shape people to do high stepping drills.
There’s no reason why a deconditioned, clinically obese person should be made to struggle and teeter with stepping on top of a standard weightlifting bench or 18 inch stool, then attempt to step back down for reps.
This puts them at risk for injuring a knee, which is already under the strain of excess weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose and want to get fit and trimmer, do stepping drills off a 12 inch stool or step class “stepper.” High stepping serves no productive purpose at this stage.
14. Exercise equipment is expensive.
Yes, only to those making excuses not to exercise. The cheapest form of exercise equipment is your own body. Bodyweight exercises can do wonders to kick-start a fitness and weight loss program.
How much cheaper can you get than bodyweight squats, squat jumps, jump lunges, pike jumps, walking lunges, dips and pushups?
Sturdy furniture can be used for dips, and beginners can do pushups off a sturdy counter or table edge, or off their knees on the floor.
Another cheap exercise is brisk walking or jogging. And no, you don’t need $100 shoes to do these.
15. The louder the music, the fitter you’ll get.
Wrong. The louder the music, the more likely you’ll suffer permanent hearing loss.
Unlike a tendon or ligament injury, which produces immediate (and painful) symptoms, injury to the nerve cells in the ear is painless and cumulative—stealthily creeping up on the victim until one day they realize, “Gee, my hearing has gotten really bad!”
Want motivation? Move to your favorite tunes—but at a safe volume. Think of what you’re aiming to accomplish. Imagine having difficulty understanding someone over the phone or in a noisy room.
Today’s “turn it up!” camp will be tomorrow’s hearing aid wearers—or at least, they will need them. Noise induced hearing loss is permanent; it can’t be reversed like a tendon injury.
16. A sprinter becomes a champion thanks to hard training, a great coach and supportive parents.
Well…sort of. These are three of the four cylinders needed, but that fourth cylinder may be the most important one: genes.
Can you picture Usain Bolt winning the Boston Marathon? Research from Grand Valley State University found that super speed prior to serious training is necessary to create a world class sprinter—the eight-year-old kid who can beat every kid in the neighborhood in races down the street—including 12-year-olds.
Michael Lombardo’s study revealed that among the 26 world class sprinters whose histories he reviewed, 100 percent of them were known to be exceptionally fast prior to formal training.
Lombardo also surveyed additional sprinters, along with throwers (64 total), and they reported being faster as children or having greater childhood overhand throwing ability, respectively.
17. An old lady has no business taking up martial arts.
A report in BMC Research Notes says otherwise; it can help elderly people who have osteoporosis—which women are at more risk of getting than are men. Martial arts, particularly judo, teaches students how to safely fall.
Brenda Groen’s study recommends that elderly students with brittle bones wear hip protectors during training to break falls—which should be on a thick mat. However, they should not practice breaking falls from a forward standing position.
To gather data, she measured hip impact forces in young adults doing martial arts fall training.
From this data she deduced how much force an older person with osteoporosis could withstand. A fall can be converted to a rolling movement by an elderly person with weak bones.
18. Working out should be enjoyable to get good results.
Whoever thought up this one? Some of the most potently effective exercises are also the most dreadful to perform, and it’s perfectly okay to realize this fact and not pretend it’s fun to deadlift twice your body weight, perform walking lunges while pressing a barbell overhead, or doing high intensity interval training.
Though the results are exciting and the feeling of satisfaction after the workout is completed is overwhelming, it’s unrealistic to think you can convince yourself that certain types of training can actually be fun.
A workout is called a “work”-out for a reason. If you’re having too much fun, don’t be surprised if you don’t see the desired results.
19. Women must train their legs every day to get their best derriere.
Why? All that hard work you do in the gym is the stimulus for muscle growth; the actual repair and rebuilding occur the next few days given rest and proper nutrition.
Cut the recuperation period short and you cut short the muscle’s ability to grow stronger and larger. Training more frequently induces overtraining, and your results will suffer big time.
It’s worth noting that aerobic exercise involving the lower body can be done more frequently; it involves slow-twitch muscle fibers (resistance training targets the fast-twitch ones) for activities which can be sustained for longer periods of time.
Cardio can also play a role in helping shape your lower body and can be done more frequently, but it won’t build your booty the way weights can.
20. Being thin doesn’t mean being healthy.
To say that a person cannot be big and also healthy, is certainly not the same as believing that skinny always means healthy.
When I said that you cannot be overweight and healthy, this is to be taken as it is, without jumping to the conclusion that I also mean that thin equals healthy.
The fact that thin doesn’t always mean healthy is unrelated to the fact that excess fat is a health hazard. Do not make the mistake of comparing a “big” person who works out hard at the gym five days a week, with a skinny person who never exercises.
A better comparison would be to take that big person, and compare him only to himself at a lighter weight.
Big people who exercise, report that they become healthier and fitter after they lose weight. Big people who exercise also often report that they still suffer from problems related to excess weight.
So if you weigh 240 pounds on a 5-7 frame, you would be healthier, fitter and have more energy if you weighed 180, and even healthier at 150 – assuming that you adhered to exercise and nutritious eating, versus losing the weight by starving yourself.
In short, compare your heavy self to your smaller self, instead of to your 99-pound cousin who never exercises and wouldn’t know a green salad from tree bark.
The reason being thin, in and of itself, doesn’t always translate to healthy, is because there are other lifestyle factors that make a person unhealthy and prone to disease:
1) lack of exercise, 2) too much meat, sugar and trans fats 3) smoking. Other variables also exist that contribute to poor health. Lack of rigorous exercise is a huge risk factor for all sorts of crippling maladies, and this variable affects people of all sizes.
21. It’s wrong to obsess about weight and size.
One need not “obsess” at all. In fact, many people obsess more about what pair of shoes they should wear with a particular outfit.
People of all sizes are prone to obsessing about weight. But the obsession may also be what motivates them to visit the gym or go for a brisk walk, count calories and eat fruit every day.
But merely thinking and reflecting about an issue, and plotting ways to manage it, is not the same as a pathological obsession, in which the thought processes disrupt the person’s life. It is perfectly okay to think about your body, because you are the only one who lives in it.
22. To make a commitment to lose weight, you must first feel good about yourself.
This is not true. If you make a decision to eat better and exercise, the result of this will make you feel better about yourself. A healthier body sleeps better.
A well-rested body, in turn, is able to concentrate and focus better in everyday tasks. How can this not make you feel better about yourself?
Weight loss and strength gains will boost self-confidence and reaffirm your ability to stick to a plan and achieve goals. Do not wait until you feel good about yourself before embarking on a weight loss and fitness program. Millions of people report feeling better about themselves after healthfully losing weight.
23. The weight loss and diet industry make billions of dollars off of our obsession with being thin.
This is true, but this in no way means it’s time to start believing that big – as in excess fat – can mean healthy and fit.
And speaking of billions of dollars: The pharmaceutical industry (which also produces weight loss drugs) also rakes in billions every year for drugs that treat conditions that are caused or aggravated by excess weight, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, back pain and joint pain.
Furthermore, the medical industry takes in billions in the treatment of conditions that are brought on by obesity, or that are triggered by obesity, such as…again, diabetes, plus heart attacks, heart disease and heart surgery, cancer and mobility impairment, to name a few.
24. Nobody can motivate you to lose weight but yourself; you have to want to do it your yourself.
This myth assumes that words are a weak force, yet we’ve all heard that old saying, “Words can hit harder than a fist.”
I’m not suggesting that insults motivate a commitment to weight loss, but if you know a person whose weight worries you, it will be well-worth it to bring up the topic of weight loss.
Yes, this person already knows they need to lose weight. What they need is motivation and tools. Do you have any ideas? Share them with that individual.
Don’t nag, don’t lecture about heart disease; instead, offer up some tools, such as joining a fitness class, or taking a brisk walk every morning; taking up martial arts and powerlifting.
Tell that person something they haven’t heard before, such as, “You have great levers for powerlifting, which, by the way, in addition to reshaping the body, crushes calories.”
(You’ll need to know something about anthropometrics to make this comment, but you get the picture; offer information that’s insightful and inspiring, and that you can answer questions about.)
25. Cleaning up around the house is a good form of exercise.
You’d like to think this is true, because if it were true, you’d be absolved of the responsibility of having to go to the gym, or use the exercise equipment that’s been collecting dust in your house.
Housework just doesn’t replace a good ‘ol fashioned, structured exercise regimen that hits all the major muscle groups. Perhaps you’ve read somewhere that housework lowers blood pressure.
Well, so does soaking in a hot tub. Just because something lowers blood pressure doesn’t mean it qualifies as “exercise.”
Actually, housework may raise blood pressure, due to its often stressful nature: hurrying to clean up in time for guests, and cleaning up after messy family members. A systematic exercise regimen that includes weights and cardio will make housework easier.
26. Fat people shouldn’t jog.
It’s not wise for a sedentary person of any size to just one day attempt to jog a whole mile. The inactive, flabby person, regardless of body weight, should gradually build up conditioning first.
This can be accomplished by taking up fitness walking, in which the arms are swinging and the posture is erect, like a soldier’s.
After the body gets acclimated to 30 nonstop minutes of moderate-paced walking, some slow jogging can be sprinkled in here and there.
Eventually, a very heavy body can adapt to slow, continuous jogging. When a very heavy person develops the ability to jog for sustained periods, this creates serious motivation to stick to better eating habits, plus take up additional forms of exercise.
27. Obese kids still have healthy hearts because they’re too young to have disease.
Wrong. The hearts of obese kids and teens were found to have signs of future cardiac problems already in progress, in a study from the University of Leipzig Heart Center in Leipzig, Germany. Cardiac ultrasound turned up physical and functional indications of adverse signs.
The obese children also had much higher blood pressure and higher LDL levels than the normal weight participants in this study. Other negative conditions like increased load on the heart were also shown.
Next time you see an obese child scampering around with enthusiasm, don’t assume all is well. You can’t see what’s going on inside their heart, but a two-dimensional cardioechogram and blood tests can.
28. Screaming loud sirens that go off in gyms when someone grunts are safer on the nerve cells in your ears than are the actual grunts.
Absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong. A piercing indoor alarm can hit over 100 decibels, while the loudest grunting may come in at 75 dBs.
For comparison, the loudest shrieks from female pro tennis players are around 100 dBs. A typical grunt from inside a gym during weight lifting is nowhere near this loud. Nerve cells in the ears are very sensitive, but won’t sustain damage from the typical grunting of bodybuilders and powerlifters.
29. People in France are healthier because they drink lots of wine.
This is known as the “French paradox.” But let’s dig a little deeper. Could the French be doing something else different (besides drinking more wine) than Americans, that could more explain their collectively better heart health? We can’t just look at one variable: wine consumption.
Other variables must also be adjusted for, such as the fact that the French consume less white sugar than Americans and less processed food than Americans. They also walk a lot more.
30. Personal trainers necessarily know lots of good recipes.
Not true. Knowing a lot of great healthful recipes falls more under the category of culinary skills. Personal trainer and other fitness certifications do not require students to learn recipes.
Knowing which foods are rich in particular nutrients like fiber, or how much protein a physique athlete needs every day, has nothing to do with knowing recipes. Nevertheless, personal trainers are often hit up for “good recipes.”
To a fitness expert, a good recipe is the absence of processed food: foods in whole form seasoned with organic spices.