We have access to more information on fitness than you can even begin to sift through. Although there is a lot of good, there is also a lot of bad. There are a lot of things that work really well and others that are just not as efficient. There are also—for lack of a better term—“myths” in fitness that don’t seem to go away. On the other hand there are also many fitness recommendations that will stand the test of time that do work.
Here are my top 5 myths followed by my 5 recommendations
5 Fitness Myths
1. You need to do a lot of cardio to lose weight and get in shape
I thought by now most people understood that more exercise, especially performing a lot of slow long-distance cardio, was not the most efficient way to lose fat and get in shape. Unfortunately, I still get a lot of questions from people on how much cardio they should be doing to see results. Now, I am all for a nice long walk, hiking, and other slow long-distance exercise. We should be implementing these types of activities on a weekly basis.
They are great for general movement and recovery. However, they won’t produce a lot of efficient fat burning enzymes, increase EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption…in other words a continuation of the high metabolic effect of exercise after exercise has stopped), increase anabolic and fat burning hormones, or increase protein synthesis. Not to mention the amount of time traditional cardio can take. We live in a fast moving world where time is valuable. You are much better off lifting weights faster, performing metabolic conditioning circuits, and doing some HIIT if fat loss is your goal.
2. More is better
This one piggybacks off number one a bit. It is true that you can’t expect to get results from just a couple workouts a week but you can’t go overboard. If you workout too much, you run the risk of overtraining. If that happens, you increase the risk of getting injured, increase your stress hormones (like cortisol) and get burned out on exercise.
Many people who workout too much will also notice an increase in food consumption, in particular with carbohydrates and sugar. If you are not getting the results you want from working out 4-5 hours a week, you need a new training program and a new diet. Don’t add exercise simply because you think you need more. Be smart about it.
3. Lifting weights makes women bulky
The majority of women simply do not have the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique. Furthermore, any woman that does have a massively muscular physique is probably supplementing with hormones. There are, of course, exceptions. I don’t have any data to back this up but if I had to guess I would say maybe 0.00001% of the female population is blessed to have the cocktail of hormones that naturally induce large amounts of muscle mass and fat loss.
If it was that easy to gain muscle then no bodybuilder would complain about how they are not gaining muscle, every college frat guy would be huge, and defensive backs in football would get so huge they would turn into linebackers. Bottom line, even men with decent testosterone levels and above average genetics cannot build muscle that easily.
Women often start out worried that they will get too bulky if they lift weights 2-4 days per week. They quickly find out that eating too much will make them look bulky…not lifting weights. The reason is because we don’t train women to make them look too muscular. They are not supposed to do endless amounts of sets of isolation exercises and body part splits. We focus on full-body free weight training (squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, rows and presses), kettlebell swings, Turkish Get-ups, loaded carries and metabolic conditioning finishers. We use as many combinations of compound, full-body movements as possible to increase lean mass and decrease body fat.
4. You can get in shape with quick programs like 7-minute abs
When you watch any “too good to be true” infomercial telling you that you only need to workout 5-minutes each day or just need this “one piece of equipment,” you need to call their bluff. As we discussed, you don’t need to do endless amounts of cardio and lift weights for hours each day. What you do need is some solid workouts at least 3 days a week that last 45 minutes or so and to stay active on the off-days. If you are not doing at least that, you need to start, or don’t expect miracles to happen.
5. Short-term commitment programs. You have to commit for life.
At my training facility, we have people sign 12-month contracts. Yes, some people hate contracts but I beg to differ. We let each person try our training out for a month for a very low cost. Then they can decide whether or not to stick with us for the long-term. We do this not for money, as we charge less for people who commit. We do this because we know that exercise is a lifetime commitment.
We know that it takes time to develop habits and see results. We also know that you can’t jump from one 6-week mass building program to another after only being on that first mass building program for 6-weeks. You need to commit to a program in it’s entirety and finish it. Lather, rinse, and repeat for life.
5 Fitness Recommendations:
Now for some fitness things you should be doing on a regular basis.
1. Move everyday
A study shows that men who sat watching TV for more than 23 hours a week were 64% more likely to die from heart disease.
Risk was unaffected by how much they exercised. Working out did not counter the effect of sitting. The BBC and University of Chester studied the effects of standing at our workplace in an attempt to quantify the potential health benefit. The study results showed an increase in heart rate by 10 bpm resulting in burning more than 50 calories per hour. That’s 30,000 calories a year which is 8 pounds of fat. You would have to run 10 marathons a year to equal that.
Moral of the story…don’t exercise more, move more.
2. Walk faster and quit walking slow to everything. Park far away and take the stairs.
A study states that people who walk faster will live longer. I am sold. Stop moving so slow when you walk, move with a purpose, park far away, take the stairs, move around more, live longer. It’s that simple.
3. Buy a kettlebell and jump rope for home
It is hard to make it to the gym sometimes so you need a backup plan. Not making it to the gym should not be an excuse. You need to find another way to get some work in. A jump rope is one of the most underrated pieces of fitness equipment around. It is a self-correcting exercise meaning it forces you to engage almost every muscle in the body and do it with perfect posture—something we all need a little more of. It also has less of an impact on the joints than running and increases coordination.
A kettlebell is your go-to tool for strength. You can store it in the corner of a room and perform endless amounts of workouts with it. You can push it, pull it, snatch it, clean it, swing it, get up with it, squat it and lunge it.
The 1-2 combo makes it the perfect cardio and strength team for your house.
4. Address your pain and movement issues.
If you are running, lifting, or whatever, and are having pain, you will have a tough time reaching your goals. I have worked with hundreds of people trying to fight through pain in order to keep working out hard. They are worried that if they stop working out in order to correct their pain and movement issues they will become weak, fat, and out of shape. What they don’t realize is that they are basically hitting themselves in the foot with a hammer every time they fight through the pain. I get it, I have done this myself but when I took care of the issue, my results when up. My pain also went away.
Here is your quick solution: first, get it checked out by a medical professional to make sure it is not a serious injury that may need medical attention.
Then get a Functional Movement Screen or some type of screening process done by a professional.
From there, get a workout designed around your pain and movement issues that won’t make them worse. Yes, you can still workout but you just might need to workout differently.
Take care of the issue, don’t ignore it.
5. Lift weights at least twice per week
Why lifting weights is so important:
More muscle equals more metabolism: The most important reason that you should be lifting weights is to lose fat and build muscle. The affect that lifting weights has on your body composition is profound. The more muscle a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest. So basically, muscles speed up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss.
Bone Health: If you are a woman or man for that matter in your 20’s and 30’s you probably are not thinking about osteoporosis yet but you should be. Many studies have shown that lifting weights regularly can increase bone density. Other forms of exercises just don’t cut it when you are trying to keep your bones strong and healthy. The only true way to do this is to lift heavy stuff and then put it back down. Be proactive now so you don’t have problems later.
Strong makes everything easier: I can’t stand it when men or anyone else think that a woman is not strong and can’t carry in the groceries, move furniture, or carry heavy stuff. Give me a break. I am a big believer that women are independent and can do things themselves. They don’t need a guy to do everything for them. If you need to move something heavy don’t call the neighbor guy or wait for your hubby or boyfriend to come home. If you are lifting weights on the regular, you can do it yourself!
Creating independence for yourself is an amazing thing to feel! It always feels great when you accomplish a task that you thought you never could do. Lift some weights, get stronger, and get it done on your own.
This goes for you too, guys. No more calling your brother over to help you move a couch.
Confidence: Walking into the gym knowing that you are going to crush a workout is such a confidence booster. In today’s gym atmosphere, it can be a little intimidating. Get strong and walk into the weight room with confidence.
This will also carry over into real life. Strong body=Strong mind=Confident you!
Don’t Be Fooled
There is a lot of good information and a lot of terrible information out there in the world of health and fitness. Make sure you take the time to know the difference.