Top 3 Fitness Myths
Maybe it’s the internet, or the late-night infomercials, but compared to my early days in this business, today’s personal training client is a lot more astute when it comes to the facts and fallacies of fitness. One example is the general understanding that weight training isn’t just for bodybuilders or narcissists, and that functional strength, better bone health and more stable joints are all among the benefits of resistance training. People have also come to accept the fact that personal trainers aren’t just for the Hollywood celebrities and filthy rich, and that there really is a benefit to having someone follow you around the gym telling you what to do.
Yet, in spite of the mass of fitness-related information on the world-wide web and in the popular media, there are still a lot of faulty notions and beliefs circulating among consumers. These mostly relate to what does and doesn’t work when it comes to success in a fitness program. I can understand how this has happened, because there’s been so much conflicting advice put forth, usually by someone trying to sell their ‘revolutionary’ diet or fitness product. In my experience I’ve probably heard at least a hundred different myths of this kind, but there are a few that seem to pop up more regularly than the rest, and that still surprise me in their persistence. Just to make sure I was on the right track I polled a couple of my other trainers and these little gems were among their top picks as well.
So, here they are, in no particular order. Some readers will laugh at the simplicity, while others will be shocked to read that I disagree with their deep-seated beliefs. In either case, I welcome comments and criticisms about my selection, as well as questions relating to other long-standing fitness theories.
1- Myth #1 – Women should avoid lifting heavy weights or they’ll get too muscular.
This is likely the single most prevalent myth that I’ve come across in my career. In fact, the majority of women that have started training with me have mentioned this concern at some point. I usually promise them that I could train them as hard as they’d let me for the next year, trying to put on as much muscle mass as possible, and at the end of the year I’m certain that they would be thrilled with their appearance. The reason for this is that very few women have enough natural testosterone in their systems to facilitate significant muscle growth. Instead, intense resistance training develops firm, functional physiques.
2 – Myth #2 – You need to lose the extra weight before starting a strength-training program.
If you’re carrying a few extra pounds you’d like to get rid of, it’s essential to perform a smart resistance program in conjunction with regular cardiovascular workouts and healthy nutrition. Strength training activates your body’s muscle mass, elevating your metabolism and increasing your caloric output. Losing weight without strength training is more difficult and usually results in a loss of muscle mass. This lowers the metabolism and decreases the amount of fuel you can consume without gaining weight.
3 – Myth #3 – Spot-reduction!
By now this myth should be long gone. Unfortunately consumers cling to it in hopes that 5 minutes of abdominal exercises each day will get rid of the extra body fat and give them the flat stomach they’ve always wanted. Training a specific muscle or muscle group will improve the shape and conditioning of that muscle, but won’t significantly reduce the amount of bodyfat covering it. Unless you’re already very lean, getting your abs (or any other muscle group) to show is dependent on losing body fat through intelligent calorie burn and optimal nutrition.
Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is a kinesiologist, posture expert, entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, athlete, father, prominent downtown vancouver personal trainer, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community. http://www.williamshealthgroup.com/index.html