Myths & Misconceptions

The fitness industry has been infected by a wide variety of myths and misconceptions. On the surface, some of them seem to make sense while others are simply incorrect and baseless. Understand that the fitness culture is deeply steeped in tradition. In many cases, bad information is innocently passed from one person to the next. The result is that many of these misconceptions – and misinformation – still persist today. There’s an old joke that states, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good emotional argument.” This Page will set the record straight by replacing some of the old “arguments” with new “facts.” No doubt, you’ll find it helpful, informative and relevant in your quest to get fit!

Myths & Misconceptions: By Matt Bryzcki

Myth: You Can Selectively Reduce Fat From Your Body.

A common myth that’s promoted by some product manufacturers and “celebrity fitness experts” is known as “spot reduction.” This is the belief that if you target a certain body part, you can specifically – and significantly –reduce the amount of body fat at that site.

For instance, you’ve probably seen infomercials for products that promise to “melt away the fat” and give you a hard, flat stomach simply by doing lots of abdominal exercises – preferably with equipment that they sell. The same claims, in various forms, are made for flabby butts, thighs, arms and .

Unfortunately, none of the claims are true. Although doing abdominal exercises will make your abdominals stronger, they’ll do nothing to reduce the body fat stored in that area. Similarly, performing tricep exercises will make your triceps stronger but won’t selectively use fat from the backs of your arms; doing hip abduction (lateral leg raises) will make your “glutes” stronger but won’t selectively use fat from your hips.

When you exercise, fat is used at an even rate throughout your entire body and is only utilized when required as an energy source.

It’s physiologically impossible to selectively use fat from a specifically targeted site. Most fitness authorities agree that the best way to reduce body fat is to reduce caloric intake and increase caloric expenditure. In other words, eat less and exercise more!

Myth: Females who strength train with a high level of intensity will gain large, bulky muscles.

Reality: Very few females have the genetic potential to significantly increase the size of their muscles. In the case of female bodybuilders, they inherit a greater potential to increase muscular size and many take anabolic steroids. The majority of women can gain considerable strength with little or no gain in muscle mass.

Myth: You’ll Respond Differently From Free Weights Than From Machines.

Another common misconception is that free weights (barbells and dumbbells) enable you to better realize muscular gains (size) while machines make your muscles toned and leaner. The truth is that a muscle can‘t think. It doesn‘t say to itself, “I’m using a barbell so I better get big” or “I’m using a machine so I’ll stay small and lean.” Muscle has no cognitive ability. This means that a muscle can’t tell the difference between a brick, a dumbbell, a machine or a soup can. Five pounds is five pounds.

What muscle does respond to is stress and intensity. This is achieved by using a sufficient workload to cause fatigue in a given muscle. It’s fair to say that genetics, gender, intensity of effort and frequency of training have a far greater influence on muscular development than does the equipment that you use.

Myth: In Order To Build Muscular Size And Strength, You Must Do Multiple Sets & Spend Several Hours Per Day In The Weight Room.

It’s unfortunate but this is one perception that has caused countless individuals to shun exercise. Because they think or have heard that long hours in the weight room are required, they feel overwhelmed and intimidated. Many people believe that they just don’t have the time to get a comprehensive workout. They think that they must spend hours in the gym in order to get fit. The good news is that this isn’t the case.There’s a preponderance of scientific evidence to support the theory that single-set routines are just as effective as multiple-set routines. If a set is done to the point of momentary muscular fatigue, most of the scientific data show that performing any additional sets produces negligible gains relative to the amount of energy that’s expended.

At the present time, there have been 62 published studies that compared the effectiveness of multiple-set training versus single-set training. Of those studies, 57 concluded that there was no appreciable distinction between the two. This means that it’s possible to get a comprehensive, full-body workout in as little as 30 minutes by only performing a single set of 8-12 repetitions to muscular fatigue for each major body part. It’s also interesting to note that there are a great number of strength coaches for professional football, basketball and hockey – as well as for collegiate sports – who have been employing single-set training with their athletes since the 1970s.

Myth: If You Lift Weights, You’ll Become Muscle Bound And Lose Flexibility.

These days, most professional athletes – ranging from football players to golfers – do some type of strength training. These athletes wouldn’t risk their livelihoods by jeopardizing their performance and flexibility. As a matter of fact, just the opposite is true. Athletes are constantly looking for a competitive advantage. Take the example of two athletes who have the same relative level of skill. The stronger, better-conditioned athlete will always have the edge. Not because the athlete is more muscular but because less energy is needed to perform the same tasks. An athlete who requires less energy to do a task is more efficient. The more efficient athlete will, over time, dominate. As a result of increased flexibility and stronger connective tissues, the stronger athlete also has a lower potential to get injured. An athlete who can remain injury free has an increased opportunity for success. It can’t be overstated that, just like any other learned skill, flexibility needs to be practiced.

Most athletes find that performing an adequate warm-up and engaging in a comprehensive stretching program both before and after a workout enables them to maintain their flexibility and, in many cases, promote an increased range of motion.

Myth: To improve explosiveness on the field or court, one must train explosively in the weight room.

Reality: To improve explosiveness on the field or court, strength train all the muscles involved in the activity, develop a high level of conditioning, and practice the specific skills used to play the game. Its that simple!

Myth: A football player must strength train very differently then a volleyball player.

Reality: All athletes are humans, and therefore the physiological requirements for improving strength are the same for all athletes – progressively overloading all muscle groups. The skills used for each sport are very different, but requirements to improve strength are the same. The only differences might be a greater emphasis on areas of the body more susceptible to injury for that sport – ie. cross country runners performing exercises for the anterior tibialis, baseball players performing exercises for the rotator cuff, etc.

Myth: All college/pro strength coaches and celebrity personal trainers are highly qualified professionals.

Reality: Many coaches, even at the highest levels of the field are not highly educated. Often their degrees are in areas outside of fitness. These individuals often are given their position because they were once a very good athlete for that pro team or university. Just because a team has a great record does not mean that coach and strength program is something you or your team should try to copy. Many times these individuals and teams succeed in spite of how they train.