5 More Fitness Myths and the Fitness Facts Behind Them
Last year, I wrote an article called "10 Fitness Myths Exposed" which received a lot of positive response. The past few weeks Ive had several emails asking for more, more, more!
Everyone loves a quick guide concerning what works and what doesnt in fitness. Unfortunately, many fitness equipment manufacturers, diet books and supplement companies have only one thing in mind: profits. Hey, profit is a great thing. However, its not a great thing when its at the expense of human beings who are searching for a way to get fit, lean, muscular and healthy.
So, here we go again with some more of my all-time favorite fitness myths:
THE 5 DEADLY LIES
1. The healthiest method to gauge your progress is weighing yourself: MYTH
You think Im about to say that the answer is to get frequent body fat tests, dont you? Nope! The healthiest way to gauge your progress is to make sure your strength levels increase when performing resistance exercise, make sure your endurance improves through cardiovascular exercise and make sure that your clothes fit exactly the way you want them to. When did we stop trusting ourselves to the extent that everything has to be successful by a measurement? Dont we have enough pressure in our lives?
2. Its important to work out for two to three hours a day for great results: MYTH
Its amazing how many people ask me how long my workout sessions are. The question should be, "How short are your workout sessions?" Long workouts are counterproductive. Numerous studies prove that more than one hour of an intense workout increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that, among other things, will assist in destroying muscle.
The body appears to be designed for quick, intense workouts. There is no need for more than 40-45 minutes of weight training and 35-40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Im not suggesting that youll lose all your muscle or go to an early grave if you exceed these recommendations. Im simply stating that best results are achieved with intensity, not necessarily long duration.
3. Women will get BIG if they weight train: MYTH
I covered this in my article last week, but its worth repeating. A woman has one-third the testosterone of a man, so putting on a ton of muscle is not going to happen. The women you see in the magazines that look BIG and manly are on steroids, growth hormones etc. Youll look bulky if youre carrying excessive body fat and building muscle. However, if youre reducing body fat, youll eventually be able to see those lean, defined muscles.
4. You must work out five to six days per week to make progress: MYTH
The number of days that you work out does not constitute level of fitness. I see a lot of people in the gym five to six days a week and theyd be better off playing ping pong. Consistency and level of effort is the key. I'd rather see someone work out three days per week with enthusiasm and intensity, than five inconsistent days of lackadaisical effort. In fact, for those clients that have trouble with motivation, I recommend only two days of workouts per week, but they must do it every week.
5. To get a flat midsection, perform a lot of abdominal exercises often and with intensity: MYTH
This is my all-time favorite. In order to get a six-pack (physiologically its actually an eight-pack), or simply a flat stomach, body fat levels must be reduced significantly. This is achieved through a calorie deficit combined with exercise. In fact, unless youre competing in an event or genetically predisposed, maintaining visible abdominals is a most difficult endeavor. A few extra pounds and they disappear. Hold onto a little excess water and they vanish.
The bottom line is abdominal exercises dont give you a flat stomach. Abdominal exercises build the muscles, while reduced body fat through nutrition, weight training and cardiovascular exercise help to reduce overall body fat which leads to a flat mid-section.
I hope you find these points helpful. Just as I mentioned in my "10 Fitness Lies Exposed" article, remember to bite your tongue when someone spouts out one of the above fallacies. With tact and patience, share your knowledge and help spread the word.
A competitive bodybuilder and former 2001 Mr. Connecticut, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health and fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in Communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.