Having spent years training and having made countless mistakes along the way, I have come to learn that the fitness community often offers up more misinformation than most typical gym-goers are equipped to handle. I can assure you, nothing irks me more than watching people abide by rules or beliefs in the gym which are entirely misconceived, so with this article I hope to identify some of the biggest fitness facts vs. fiction so you can start making real strides towards your fitness goals.

Fiction #1: Lifting weights immediately makes you ‘bulky’.

The Facts:

  1. Getting ‘bulky’ won’t happen over night. Trust me. It takes anywhere from years to decades to become the next Mr. Olympia (the pinnacle in bodybuilding).
  2. You need to be eating for size in order to get bigger as well. If you are someone who is tall and has naturally long limbs, you will need to put on even more weight before you begin to develop real ‘bulk’ [Example: You will notice when someone who is only 5 foot gains 20lbs but that will barely show on someone who is 6’5”].
  3. How you train will directly affect how big you get. Take a look at Olympic weight lifters and compare them to CrossFit athletes, bodybuilders, power-lifters and strongmen. All of them lift but muscle mass is much more predominant in bodybuilders, power-lifters and strongmen. While bodybuilders focus on time under tension, powerlifters and strongmen move incredible amounts of weight – all of which take TIME.

Fiction #2: Anything to do with “toning”.

The Facts:

  1. Doing continuous, ridiculous repetition sets will not “tone you up”. If you do 1000 sit ups a day, you are wasting your time (as traditional sit ups are a poor ab exercise to begin with). Think about it, how are you going to get better if you aren’t truly challenging yourself? The day I stop seeing people wasting their time doing 19823 repetitions with pink 3lb dumbbells will be a good day.
  2. Moving weights faster won’t burn more calories. But it will keep people from going anywhere near you.
  3. Abs are made in the kitchen. How you eat has a profound effect on your body composition. If you want visible abdominals, you need to lower your body fat percentage.

Fiction #3: Fat and cholesterol are bad for you.

The Facts:

  1. Over consumption of any macronutrient has the potential to make you obese.
  2. Fat is involved in hormone production. Not getting enough fat can be detrimental to your growth and recovery. Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats (think junk food) but feel guilt free while enjoying monounsaturated fats (think nuts and legumes).
  3. Dietary cholesterol intake rarely affects your blood cholesterol. See the exception below.
  4. Carbohydrates should be monitored more than fat. Specifically, simple sugars and high fructose corn syrup. These are much more easily converted into body fat.

× EXCEPTION: If you have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol or other certain other medical conditions, you may need to monitor your fat and cholesterol intake.

Fiction #4: Cardio burns more calories than weight training.

The Fact:

  1. Weight training involves a higher energy demand on muscles, resulting in more energy expenditure.

Fiction #5: You should stretch before exercise.

The Facts:

  1. Do not static stretch before exercise. Static or held stretches before exercise can INCREASE the risk of injury. If you think of your muscles as steel springs, is a spring more pliable when it is cold or when it is warm? [There are certain stretches that are exceptions but that’s for another article]
  2. Dynamic stretching is a great part of a warm up. A dynamic stretch example would be a walking lunge. These stretches encourage blood flow to the area.
  3. Warm up with the movement. If you plan on hitting a 500lb+ deadlift, you shouldn’t be loading the bar to 500lbs and pulling right away – unless you enjoy rehabilitating majorly damaged muscles. Even those who pull 700lb+ often start with just 135lbs on the bar. Progressively work your way up to your max.

Fiction #6: It is easy to learn a new exercise. How hard can a deadlift be? I mean, you just pick the weight up, right?

The Facts:

  1. There is a lot to think about when lifting. While it may look simple, there are a ton of small corrections that can be made to every exercise.
  2. The most beneficial exercises require the most skill. Using the bench press as an example, most trainees never learn about the importance of a strong set up, scapular retraction and depression and leg drive. When you find out that those who set records on the bench can get a concussion during a max lift, you start to realize how much more is going on.

Fiction #7: You don’t have time to work out.

The Facts:

  1. You are making excuses. Stop taking the easy route and blaming the rotation of the moon for missing your training session.
  2. You aren’t managing your time effectively. There will always be people who are sleeping less, work more hours, have a family to care for and have more to do in general – yet they still train. Modify your routine. Wake up earlier.

Fiction #8: You need to take supplements.

The Facts:

  1. The average person doesn’t need supplementation. Most people seem to forget that a supplement is there to SUPPLEMENT a solid foundation of nutrition and training.
  2. Supplements can be beneficial… But you don’t need to be taking everything on the market. Once you have been training for some time and have proven to be consistent, then consider adding in supplements. Start with a quality multivitamin/mineral and then go from there.
  3. A lot of supplements are well planned marketing stunts. Do your research.A flashy label and extraordinary claims are often there to further sugar coat something comparable to a sugar pill.

Fiction #9: Trainers know everything.

The Facts:

  1. The vast majority of trainers know very little at all. In Canada, most trainers are CanFit Pro certified – a $500 weekend course. Great trainers continually strive to stay on top of modern literature and many of the best will have the NSCA CSCS certification (they are quite rare).
  2. Trainers should look as though they have been in a weight room before. Or at least have the record to show for it – whether it be their own personal record or the success of their previous client. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t look like much now but he is still the most famous name in bodybuilding.
  3. If a trainer can’t tell you progressions, regressions or substitutions of an exercise, don’t even waste your time with them.
  4. Each trainer specializes in a certain area. Just like how one contractor may know a bit about framing a house and carpentry, that doesn’t make them qualified to handle your plumbing and wiring. The same thing applies to your trainer and sports/rehabilitation/physiotherapy. While a trainer may know a bit, they aren’t a specialist in each field and shouldn’t be regarded as such.

Fiction #10: You can reach all of your goals in X days or X weeks.

The Facts:

  1. This is often a marketing gimmick. Gyms feed off of the boost in membership sales around certain times of year (Ever had a New Year’s resolution? Ever been to a gym in January?)
  2. Your goals will change. If you squat 405lbs, odds are that you will want 495lbs next… It’s a vicious cycle of self-improvement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.