Everyone has fitness advice these days. Everyone. So it's tough to know what to believe. We run through 4 of the most popular exercise myths out there and tell you what you really need to know.
"Exercise is good for weight loss"
Exercise alone is a poor strategy for weight loss. Bare with me on this.
It does however, work really well with eating better to promote health and in an energy restricted state, when wanting to shift some weight.
The reason being? A few hours of training (whatever they may be) per week will not make as big a dent in your energy requirements as a solid nutrition strategy that results in more of a controlled calorie deficit.
Furthermore, different forms of exercise can lead us to ‘reward’ ourselves or exaggerate how much work we’ve done. Both of these can push us toward being a little more relaxed with our nutrition than is necessary.
Now, before everyone gets mad, I am not saying ‘don’t exercise’. I’m just trying to get across that exercise by itself for weight loss is a bit of a myth.
Is it a healthy habit? Absolutely.
Should you still do it? 100%!
"Fasted Cardio Makes You Lose More Weight"
We’ve all seen it. We’ve all likely done it. But does that mean that it actually does what we have been told that it does? The idea that we will burn more fat if we do our cardio in a non-fed state is an appealing concept.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up within the research.
In short, if you ‘burn more fat’ through fasted cardio, that can be offset by over consuming food later in the day so that your total energy intake matches or surpasses your expenditure, fasted cardio included.
Now, if you prefer doing something in the morning on an empty stomach, then go for it. Just don’t believe that it’s better for you or suffer through it while being hungry because of some advantage that doesn’t exist.
I think the words of Brad Schoenfeld cap of this discussion nicely:
'….the best advice for those who are simply looking to get lean is to focus on total energy and macronutrient balance; whether you perform cardio fasted or fed should depend entirely on preference.'
"High Repetitions, light weight; low repetitions, heavy weight"
You know the drill with this one. This myth still gets thrown around a good bit.
"You should only do high reps with light weights if you want to get toned. Heavier weights will make bulk you up."
However, both types of repetition and load are good and neither should be avoided nor exclusively focused on.
Muscle is a good thing. Having a little more is a good thing. It is healthy to have muscle tissue - whether it’s from the toned looked or some more appreciable muscle.
In order for that muscle to be somewhat visible or for the ’toned’ ideal to be seen, you need to be somewhat lean. Not competition lean but lean-ish. That comes through reduction in body fat levels which we know is created through a reduction in calories combined with higher protein intakes (phew! Long sentence!).
Back to the point, both types should be incorporated into your training, not just one because of the false perception that a certain repetition range can ‘sculpt’ a muscle in a particular manner.
"You should ALWAYS do something different in the gym"
Yes, the human body is complex and can adapt to stresses.
But in the context of training, ALWAYS doing something different in the gym IS NOT a way to create progress, get better at something or achieve your weight loss or body composition goals.
Trying to ‘shock the body’ with something different each session may rob you of progressing. Not progressing will move you away from your initial goal and that’s not a good thing.
Well-structured training plans stick with a select number of ideas, whether that’s for being a triathlete, a powerlifter or just someone who enjoys going to the gym and making progress.
The body adapts to training stimuli in a given timeframe but that is rarely (rarely = never) within a 24 hour or 48 hour window.
So please avoid attempting to ‘shock the body’ with a massive diversity of training types. Find a training plan and structure that you enjoy and can progress through. Then watch as the magic happens.
There are exercise myths out there that filter into the mainstream and may prevent you from achieving great things.
- Cardio doesn’t have to be performed in a fasted state. There’s also nothing to say that it’s superior to cardio when you’ve eaten something.
- There is no separate ‘toning’ and ‘bulking’ plan. Both higher reps with a lower weight and lower reps with heavier weights can create a training effect.
- Exercise alone isn’t the ideal weight loss tool. Exercise should be pursued for so many other reasons. Nutrition looks after the weight loss side of things.
- Shocking the body’ is not the way to approach your time in the gym. Focus on getting better at what you’re currently doing, not on ‘surprising’ your physiology.