I remember the Internet the way it used to be. Windows 98' taking 20 minutes to dial-up while we waited anxiously to play sloth-like computer games on floppy disks --- It was the dream.
Next thing we knew, processors were becoming faster and faster. Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet, but we knew the truth. Aliens did it. And, unimpressed by Al's blatant attempt at getting impeached before he was even elected, we progressed.
YouTube and Facebook then stole the show. Making the Internet easily accessible, and the thoughts and opinions of others readily available. We thought these marquee companies were the keys to globalization and that they would change our world. And they have. Kind of… What it has revealed has been both awesome and disturbing. I'm unsure if you have been reading any YouTube comments lately, but one may assert that our society is less brilliant than once thought.
It's time to realize something. Those people writing angry messages in all caps and citing political stances under Justin Beiber videos (LIKE I WOULD KNOW…) are just as able to make fitness blogs and call themselves professionals.
Amidst the chaos, several myths and legends about fitness have come up along the way. So, in the spirit of debunking the lies, here are the top 5 fitness myths and why they are incorrect.
1. Weight Loss and Weight Gain Is Simple Calories In vs. Calories Out
Now, this one is probably the most controversial, so instead of just giving out my opinion, I will simply cite 3 stories with opposing evidence. There is a lot of science and data that back up my view on this subject. Including Harvard reviews and a very popular fitness book called "Good Calories, Bad Calories." This is a piece of your fitness puzzle, but is certianly not the entire picture.
If you're unaware who this guy is, you're not a bro. Arguably the greatest overall athlete of all time, his top three accomplishments include: 13 years of professional football, Olympic bobsledding, and being a 5th degree black-belt in Taekwondo. Watch some clips of him on YouTube, you will get the picture.
His diet? Soup. Yep, that's right, fucking soup. He's a vegetarian and would consistently eat only one bowl of soup daily. And every now and then, when he's really pushing it, he would eat some bread and a salad.
This guy is huge and is eating MAYBE 700 calories a day…
You may know them from their youtube channel and the free content they put out.
When they are gaining weight, they eat only around 2800 calories a day. They weight around 210 pounds and are 6'2. At those stats, according to every nutrition textbook, they should be eating about 4,200 calories to gain weight. That's a 33% less than recommended and, for most people, a calorie deficit.
I trained a woman named Sarah who still haunts me to this day. She was overweight by at least 50 pounds, maybe more.
When I asked what she was eating and how she worked out, I immediately thought she was full of shit. I would never say that to a client's face, but according to the numbers she was eating around 1000 calories a day and burning 400 every day at zumba or spin classes. That's only consuming 600 calories a day and still being 50lbs overweight…
As anyone in fitness knows, this is extremely dangerous and I needed to check if this was correct. Every day, she would log what she was eating and when she worked out. It was unreal, she was telling the truth. Everything I had learned nutritionally up to that point was completely turned on its head.
All of this to say, I think calories in calories out still needs a lot of work. It is very obvious that some of the data is missing. Calories will play a role in your fitness, but that role much less signifigant than previously thought. The quality of the calories you are getting, your natural body type, and your genetics all play factors large factors into you fitness and physique.
Don't buy into this notion of just minimizing calories. You may find yourself cutting back until your metabolism is shot and eating only celery sticks to lose weight.
2. No Pain, No Gain
Akin to the extinct humanoids that use to roam the earth wearing TapOut shirts, if this is your motto, stop right now. Yes, working out can be tough and mentally challenging, but it's unnecessary to enter Rhabdo to get a great workout. The problem with this attitude is two-fold:
Number 1. It's untrue. Phycial pain isn't required for a great workout. Often, your greatest muscle building activity is a solid workout followed by great sleep. That's where your biggest gains will be won and lost.
Number 2. I despise the type of person this attitude attracts. You're taking yourself and weightlifting way too seriously. If you are yelling across the gym while maxing out on dead-lift, you need to go home and reevaluate things. We get it, you're trying to be the biggest badass the gym has ever known, but you're sadly mistaken. Nothing screams "I'm Over Compensating" better than yelling at inanimate objects so others will know you exist.
Work with intensity, push yourself, but never take yourself too seriously.
3. Cardiovascular Exercise Is the Best Way to Shed Fat
I don't know how many studies have to be done before people will realize that an hour on the elliptical is not that great of a workout for you. Sprints and HIIT training burn twice as many calories and target your fat stores much more efficiently.
Basically, here is how the breakdown goes. An anaerobic exercise is any exercise performed at a high intensity for 10 seconds and up to 2 minutes. An aerobic exercise is performed at a more moderate pace that you can keep up for more than 2 minutes without stopping. Recent studies have found that doing 15 minutes of HIIT training or sprints becomes both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Getting the best of both worlds, you will burn off your glycogen stores and fat at the same time. Something the elliptical or a 45-minute jog, are incapable of.
4. Girls Want Guys to Look Like Fitness Models
First, let's be honest about why you are going to the gym. I could write novels about how 95% of the things we do are to get the recognition of our peers and, more importantly, the members of the opposite sex. But let's use a quick example: skyscrapers. I can guarantee with every skyscraper and monument built, there is a man, somewhere, trying to impress a woman. Our desire to build a 500-foot phallic shaped object piercing the sky, as a symbol to our achievements, is pretty amusing. Especially, since such a building could be built just as easily underground. Take from it what you will, but you will never look at the Empire State Building the same.
Now the real damming thing is to realize the kind of body girls are looking for. A popular study publish in September 2011 is pretty astonishing. They gave girls pictures to look at and they rated them from the most attractive to least attractive. Here are the results:
72% of women found Brad Pitt's body from fight club the most attractive. Guy's, who looked like Zyzz or a professional fitness model, did not even show up on their radar.
A guy who wants to look like a fitness model usually does it out of mistakenly thinking that is want girls want. This is just an illusion perpetuated by the media and men's fitness magazines. If you're looking for the adoration of males everywhere, please, continue taking steroids and getting crazy jacked. My advice is to concentrate on getting ripped and having great abs. The confidence you build will attract more women to you, but don't lose yourself in the process.
5. Spot Reduction
While you may have more fat accumulate on particular areas than others, there is no such thing as spot reduction.
Let me make this very clear, you probably already have great abs, but you can not see them. The best way to get rid of your stomach is through compound exercises and HIIT training- not doing crunches. I probably work out my abs less than 2 times a week and maintain a solid 6. Ab exercises are a big waste of time, especially, if you have a massive beer gut blocking their view.
Questions or comments, leave them below.
See you next week, bros,
Alex Nerney - Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Lord of BroScience.
Follow Alex for more tips on twitter HERE and get all the fitness advice you will ever need in his book: Fitness In College: A College Guy's Guide To Getting Ripped