A couple weeks back, we discussed how we humans really love myths. And holy-freaking-unicorn Batman, there some long-standing myths that surround strength training.
Some of them are just FAKE NEWS, but some of them have a little truth to them.
And now, our mythbusting continues….
13. I can reduce fat around the abs or thighs with specific exercises
God, I wish that were how the body worked. If it were, we’d all have 6-packs in no time thanks to crunches. And no one would have fat fingers with all the texting and keyboard pounding we do. But if there’s one thing you take away from this article, I want you to write this next part down. Then paste it all around you or tattoo it on your forearm.
Nutrition drives fat loss; workouts support it.
So if you want abs, you have to take control of your nutrition. Exercise will help. But the battle of the bulge is 80% nutrition and about 20% exercise.
14. For fat burning or weight loss, I should only do cardio exercise
Weight loss: losing both fat and muscle at the same time while only caring about what a hunk of plastic and metal shows us.
Cardio: those arduous minutes you spend on a treadmill dreaming about cake and then flagellating yourself by increasing your speed for the simple act of thinking of cake.
That last part was me taking a pot shot at cardio. Look, cardio is important. I just hate running on a treadmill. But you don’t need cardio to burn body fat. Sure, it can help your ticker run a lot better as well as improve your recovery time from intense exercise due to improved blood flow and stuff.
But you can burn fat by simply eating less food and walking more. That’s it. Remember:
Nutrition drives fat loss; workouts support it.
15. I should be sore after every workout
Sometimes, you put on some slow jams, take your time, and enjoy the connection with your partner. And then there are those times where you’re just going through the motions and hoping for the best in the end. But then the end isn’t the magical ecstasy unicorn that you rode last week. And you roll over asking yourself why you even put yourself through that disaster.
We’ve all lived through those moments in our sex lives. And working out is exactly like that as well.
It won’t always be pure ecstasy, and you won’t always feel sore the day after a great workout. In fact, the goal should never be to feel sore after every workout. Soreness isn’t an indication of effectiveness. What ultimately determines whether you had a good workout is how you feel when you’re done.
16. Squatting is bad for your knees and deadlifting is bad for your back
Squatting is a basic human movement pattern. Look at anywhere else in the world where people don’t work at desks, and they can easily “pop a squat” and touch their ass to their ankles.
And since we’re talking myths, there is a myth surrounding the birth of the deadlift in fact. According to myth, the term “dead lift” is derived from ancient Roman times. After military battles, young Roman soldiers were charged with going out onto the battlefield to lift their compatriots corpses onto a wagon where they would be transported for burial.
Hence the name “dead lift.” And according to the myth, Roman general’s requested young soldiers do this (a.) to get familiar with battle and death and (b.) to increase overall strength.
Of course, no one knows if this ancient myth is true or not, but it makes for a great story. Still, the hip hinge is a basic human movement pattern. And when you deadlift, that’s what you’re training.
Squats and deadlifts are not bad for you. But like anything, if you do it wrong, then it’s bad for you.
17. Crunches get abs
You can play peek-a-boo with your nether regions all you want. But until you address the food you put in your mouth, those abs are only a dream.
18. You need a belt to lift heavy
David Dellanave, the founder of Movement Minneapolis and biofeedback mastermind, has a heuristic that I think is a good guideline in terms of when you should consider using a belt.
For men, once you’re able to hit a 2x bodyweight deadlift and a 1.5x bodyweight squat, start using a belt. And for women, David suggests working up to a 1.5x deadlift and a 1x bodyweight squat before you strap on a belt.
If you wanna know more about the myths and truths of lifting with a belt, David Dellanave dispels all myths in this article.
19. Men and women should train differently
- Press (overhead or on a bench)
- Weighted Carries
That’s because men and women don’t need to train differently. Sure, we may have physical differences, i.e. men carry more lean muscle mass and women recover faster after training sessions than men. But HOW we train doesn’t really need to change.
Lift heavy and across all rep ranges, and focus on mastering the basic movement patterns above. Oh, and toss in some curls for good order. Because arms rule.
20. You shouldn’t exercise on rest days
Rest days don’t mean sit around and rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer all day (though, if that is how you choose to spend your rest day, I’m not gonna say you made a bad decision).
Rest days can be active. Walking is one of the best recovery tools you have at your disposal. And if riding your bike brings you joy, why would you not want to ride your bike after a heavy day in the gym?
Sure, maybe you don’t need to go back into the gym and do what you did the day before. You do need to give your muscles time to recover and repair. But slothly lying around isn’t how you have to spend your rest day.
Active recovery can be beneficial. But so can sitting around and sleeping all day too.
21. Cardio will eat your muscle and strength
- increases blood flow;
- opens capillaries; and,
- can help you recover faster during your strength sets.
So Robbie, should I do HIIT or steady state cardio?
Well since I know how much Ninjas love to ask a question only to then have that followed up by another question (or ten), I have a question for you: what do you enjoy the most?
If you love HIIT, do HIIT. If you love to imagine yourself as a gazelle gracefully prancing across the open plains while you’re on the treadmill, then do your gazelle thing, honey.
Yes, there are advantages to either form of cardio. HIIT saves you a ton of time. But steady state is less taxing on your nervous system and is less likely to get in the way of recovery from your heavy lifting.
This is my rule with cardio for my online clients: choose the activity that brings you joy and makes you feel great. Then do that for cardio. (But don’t do it to “burn calories.”)
22. Muscle weighs more than fat
23. The post-workout window is essential for building muscle
Okay. Let’s end this myth once and for all. A meta-analysis from 2013—yes, 5 freaking years ago (man this myth just won’t die will it?)—found that groups who slurped down massive protein after their workout did not fare any better in terms of building lean muscle mass vs. groups who ate the same amount of protein throughout the day.
Basically, it doesn’t matter if you have a shake immediately after the gym or a meal a couple hours later. What matters most is total protein throughout the day. So save yourself $7 and skip the smoothie stand at the gym.
24. Muscle confusion: you gotta keep your muscles guessing
What makes your muscles grow is tension and volume. And when you repeat that tension and volume for 4-6 weeks, slowly adding either more weight or more reps as the work becomes easier, then your body can adapt and change.
But if you’re changing up workouts every week because you’re trying to confuse your body, then you’re never going to place your muscles under the repetitive tension that they need to grow.
25. You should never squat past 90 degrees
So getting them to 90 degrees – legs parallel to the floor – is the best way for them to squat. Everyone has different hip structures, and what’s good for one person may not be best for the other.
Creating a myth based on what one person can do is wrong.
26. Strength training means lifting weights
Anywho, back to strength training. Strength training is more than dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells. Pole Fitness is huge right now and it requires massive amounts of strength. But the only resistance you have is your body.
There are millions of people around the world who only use their body weight for exercise. And there are thousands of others who use resistance bands or TRX to challenge their bodies to get stronger. Strength is the adaptation your muscles make to the tension you place them under. Those adaptations will vary depending on the external forces you place your body under, but you don’t need to lift weights to strength train.
Phew. That was a freaking marathon of myth busting. By now you’ve hopefully discovered that the majority of strength myths are pretty bogus. Some of them make no sense when examined with science. And many of them seem like someone just created them out of thin air.
But one thing is always true: Nutrition drives fat loss; working out supports it.
Now that you know strength fact from fiction, are you ready to get strong? Schedule a Strategy Session at Mark Fisher Fitness and we’ll show you how!