Fitness Myths Debunked
Common Fitness Myths – The world is full of myths; the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Lochness monster are just a few.
Bodybuilding also has myths of its own (no, I’m not talking about Sergio Oliva).
Not only are these myths echoed in gyms around the world, but they also linger from one generation to the next.
Such fitness myths may lead to beginners being sidetracked, or even intermediates training in the wrong way. In this article we are going to expose several myths, before they continue to curse bodybuilders’ IQ’s in future eras.
1. You Have to Lift Heavy to Build Muscle
One of the biggest fitness myths out there…
Does lifting heavy weights build muscle? Yes.
However, lifting lighter weights can also build muscle, especially if a person is used to lifting heavy and performing lower reps; then you switch it up and shock the body by increasing time under tension. The key is to stress the muscle via the principle of overload, to promote growth. This can be done in a variety of ways and lifting heavy weights is just one.
2. Creatine Is a Steroid
When beginners first hear about creatine, they automatically think it’s a steroid.
To set the record straight, creatine monohydrate is a non-essential amino acid, naturally produced by the body.
It will not give you steroid-like gains, however research suggests that it is effective for increasing muscular strength and size.
Creatine will cause water retention like anabolic steroids, however it will not produce any of the other harsh effects; with research deeming it to be safe.
3. Cholesterol is bad
Some people avoid eating high fat diets because they’ve been told that it raises cholesterol and is bad for cardiovascular health.
However, the truth is high cholesterol can be beneficial, if in the correct ratios. When HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels are high and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) levels are low – this is the perfect balance for heart health.
This can be accomplished by eating a diet high in unsaturated fats, whilst limiting saturated fat intake.
Thus, fats should not be avoided; and they will also help to administer testosterone levels (a key muscle-building hormone).
4. Fat Makes You Fat
Eating fat, in the sense of the macronutrient, will not make you fat (contrary to the myth).
Only eating high amounts of calories has the ability to cause fat gain in the body. If you were to eat a high-fat diet, yet be in a calorie deficit – you would lose weight.
Carbs also don’t make you fat, although it would be wise to stick to unrefined carbohydrate sources throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable (for health purposes).
5. Sugar is the enemy
Sugar in moderation is perfectly healthy, especially in natural food sources, such as fruit.
Some bodybuilders avoid fruit because it contains sugar, relying instead on multivitamin supplements to get their nutrients. Multi vitamins can be beneficial, however they should supplement a person’s diet instead of being the main source of nutrients. This protocol of avoiding fruits is not optimal for health, and is unnecessary as there’s no reason to avoid sugar like the plague.
Consuming sugar at the right times actually helps to shuttle protein inside the muscle cells by spiking insulin levels. This increases glycogen inside the muscle after a workout, accelerating recovery. This ‘sugar window’ can also apply in the morning, after (essentially) fasting overnight. Thus, sugars, particularly fruits, can be consumed for breakfast in a way that actually aids your fitness goals and health.
Although sugar isn’t to be feared, overindulgence certainly is not healthy and may lead to health complications.
6. Big Muscles = Strong
Just because someone looks strong, doesn’t necessarily mean they are.
When you build muscle, you will become stronger. However, there are people who don’t look particularly muscular; yet can out-bench someone who is jacked.
Strength development is often the result of performing the same movements frequently, whilst perfecting technique. However, a muscular bodybuilder may just have good genetics, without training often and lack technique.
However, there are also big bodybuilders who are very strong. Some of them also shout ‘ain’t nothing but a peanut’ when lifting abnormal amounts of weight.
7. Good Body = Good Genetics
Yes, some people have a great body because they are blessed in the DNA department. Some guys will have dads who are equally as jacked as them, demonstrating strong genetics in the family.
However, some people with good bodies also may have naturally weak genetics. Some people when they started lifting weights didn’t look spectacular; but after many years of dieting and training hard – made a name for themselves. Bob Birdsong is a prime example of this, completely defying his genetics back in the 70’s.
This isn’t to say one way is better than the other, however you cannot always judge a book by its cover.
8. You Can Spot-Reduce
Some people believe you can lose fat from specific parts of your body. Luckily this isn’t the case, otherwise people would undoubtedly be walking around, resembling all sorts of odd shapes.
When you diet and eat in a calorie deficit, your body is the one that decides where you lose it. Generally this will be done proportionally, however you might notice that your stubborn areas may not lose it as fast as you’d like. This is simply because there’s more fat in these locations, thus you’ll need to continue losing weight in order for these to decrease in size.
9. Women Shouldn’t Lift Heavy
Many women are anxious about becoming big and bulky from lifting heavy weights. Personal trainers hear this constantly from female clients. This is usually a woman’s conscience telling them this, without first understanding how difficult it is to build muscle.
Women only have a fraction of the testosterone compared to men, and even men often complain about how difficult it is to build muscle. Fitness myths moral of the story? Ladies, there’s nothing to fear – unless you have a myostatin mutation that causes you to gain tonnes of muscle simply by staring at a dumbbell. Trust me, you won’t get ‘big’ anytime soon.
10. You Must Eat Chicken and Rice
To wrap up the fitness myths…
If bro-science bodybuilders had a Bible, the first commandment would be ‘thou shalt eat chicken and rice 5x a day’.
Seriously though, why do bodybuilders torment themselves like this? If you love chicken and rice, sure go for it. However, such repetitive meals aren’t needed in order to be a bodybuilder. Get creative in the kitchen and try out new meals and recipes. It’s important to work our brain and satisfy our taste buds, as well as getting swole. Keep your sanity, we’re in this game for the long haul.