The popularity of fitness has created a lot of misinformation, which thanks to the internet, is distributed at a rate that boggles the mind. This article is a defense against some of the more common inaccuracies.
For years, talking to people about exercise and fitness has been a hobby of mine. Not in the professional sense like what I do 5-6 days a week as a trainer. I mean in the “I want to see what people think they know and then challenge those assumptions with pure logic” sense. Mind you, I never do this with people who are upfront about needing help or during the course of a friendly conversation. This is reserved for the ever-increasing number of spandex-clad know-it-alls that are running around our nation.
The statements that follow are common misconceptions that get repeated over and over simply because some people are too lazy to think critically and do their own research. Well, I did the research for you so there’s no more excuses for not knowing. Really, most of this is common sense so it’s not like I had to go into a laboratory and run experiments to discover anything. Anyway, feel free to use the responses below the next time someone saunters up and delivers a gem like…
I’m doing a lot of crunches so my abs will show.
You have abs. Trust me on this, they’re there. But you can’t see them if you have a layer of fat between your eyes and your abs. So crunch away, buy all the goofy gadgets you want but you won’t see crap until you do something to eliminate the excess fat. You have to obey the laws of thermodynamics and create a caloric deficit to reduce body fat, then you can see the abs. Theoretically, by focusing on caloric intake/deficit/surplus, you can get better results than someone who does abs daily.
I don’t do weights because every time I do I get bulky.
Oh please. I would love to live in a world where just placing my hands on a barbell would result in me turning into The Hulk. Somehow I have to lift heavy things on a regular basis, consume exhausting amounts of food and avoid excess high intensity cardio but these people just smell iron and sprout muscles on top of muscles. Newsflash = You aren’t bulky, probably never have been bulky, most likely never will be bulky. What you see and feel is excess blood in your muscles following a resistance workout. That goes away after a day or so and you’re back to your normal self. The only way to increase your muscle mass permanently is to lift consistently and eat a lot of food to sustain growth. One set of lateral raises ain’t getting the job done.
I’m doing supersets/HIIT/Crossfit/whatever trendy phrase is popular.
Do research before proclaiming what kind of exercise you’re doing. Drop-sets are not supersets and eccentrics are not pause-reps. HIIT doesn’t mean jumping on a plyo box for 30 seconds then taking a 5 minute break to watch the game. Performing a clean and jerk doesn’t mean you’re doing Crossfit. All exercise programs are variations on movements that have been done for years. Knowing which ones you’re doing and how you’re doing them is critical to you getting the results you want. After all, just saying you’re driving to California and while heading east will not get you there.
I don’t squat because it damages your knees.
Your squats damage your knees because your form is ugly. Correct your form so it’s beautiful and the risk of damage goes away…plus you’ll look good doing it.
I don’t run because it damages your knees.
If you run like you’re on a trampoline, or there’s an earthquake going on that only you can feel, then chances are you are going to damage your knees, ankles, shins and hips over extended periods of time. If you fix your form so that you are using minimal energy to move forward, the risk of damage goes away…plus you’ll look good doing it (heard that before?)
I’m wearing a belt to protect my back.
Belts are intended for providing a secondary abdominal wall for people performing maximal lifts. Wearing it to protect your back is ineffective and counterproductive. Besides, if you have a belt on to “protect your back” while curling 10lbs per arm, you look ridiculous. This is not me being judgmental, this is me being honest. Besides, if you thought that curling a grand total of 20 lbs unprotected was enough to cause major back trauma, you weren’t healthy enough to be in a gym, and probably not healthy enough to be standing upright (logic hurts). Learn how and when to use a belt properly and it can definitely help your performance on heavier lifts.
I’m healthy because I eat clean/Paleo/Atkins/vegan/lacto-ovo/whatever dietary variation is popular.
You can eat the healthiest food known to mankind and still be sickly if you do not consume enough to support normal bodily functions. Starving on organic foods is almost as bad as gorging on processed foods (you’ll both have health issues, although they’ll be different in nature). You are healthy because your body has all the nutrients it needs to keep things running. You are healthy because you limit artificial ingredients, not because you limit calories. Don’t lose sight of the purpose of food, it’s simply body fuel.
I workout for 2 hours everyday.
No you don’t. You may be at the gym for 2 hours but you aren’t exercising for all 2 of those hours. Between the water breaks, watching TV to catch up on news or sports scores, the disguised flirting with people you find attractive and the time it takes for you to figure out what you should be doing, you’re probably at most exerting yourself for half the time you’re actually present (to be honest, it’s probably more like 25 to 35% of the time). That’s how a 15-30 minute workout can be superior to a 60 minute workout if all the excess distractions are removed.
There you go. Next time someone says something that makes no sense, you can respond with real information. Logic and facts always win, even it makes the loser feel bad.