Knowing who to trust in the fitness industry seems to be increasingly difficult.
There’s a seemingly endless supply of articles, experts, and opinions floating around. The storm of social media influencers, supplement companies, and industry-backed studies make it almost impossible for most people to get the real facts.
As a personal trainer, I witness first-hand the many myths people still believe when it comes to fitness, health, and nutrition. Let’s open some minds!
Myth #1. Waist trainers actually work.
Don’t fall for the scams and photoshopped advertisements. Despite what popular culture might have you believe, waist trainers aren’t the magic solution for achieving an hourglass figure. Not only does wearing one of these devices physically restrict your lung capacity, your body will return to its natural shape when you take it off. And wearing one while working out can actually inhibit your core muscles from developing properly. Skip this fad, and know that anything that promises a smaller waist overnight – is too good to be true.
Myth #2. You can spot reduce fat.
I mean, it seems logical right? Doing hundreds of crunches and sit ups every day will result in a six-pack eventually…right? Studies have actually shown that there’s no way to reduce fat from one specific area alone. Fat is lost from your entire body, and you don’t get to choose what goes first. Your age, sex, metabolism, diet, and exercise routine all impact how fat loss will look on your body. Slow and steady wins this race.
Myth #3. You can squat your way to a perfect booty.
I often see the squat promoted as the only exercise women need to perform to create a perfect physique. While the squat is an essential compound movement for most, it isn’t the only key to your dream posterior. Building a booty, or any muscle for that matter, is a process that takes time, dedication, and plenty of carbs. To get real results, you’ll also need to perform isolated glute-specific exercises in addition to your heavy squats. Barbell hip thrusts, single leg glute bridges, banded hip abductions, and single leg deadlifts are some of my favorite ways to target the booty!
Myth #4. Women get “bulky” when they lift weights.
Luckily, I see this misconception slowing fading away with time, as more women take their power back. Lifting heavier weights does not equate to immediate muscle gain, especially for women. To gain muscle mass you have to hit the perfect amount of calories and protein, perform enough micro-damage to your muscle fibers, as well as insuring adequate rest. Women also naturally have lower levels of testosterone, a hormone that plays a critical role in muscle growth and protein synthesis. Hence why men naturally have more muscle mass than women, and why women don’t need to worry about turning into the hulk overnight.
Myth #5. Squatting is bad for your knees.
I’ve met a lot of people – athletes included – that avoid squats because of self-proclaimed bad knees. I also see a lot of people who perform the dreaded “half-rep”- only going down for a partial squat and forgoing full range of motion. This is where resistance comes into play. Start with your body weight until you can comfortably perform 20 reps with a full range of motion. This will prevent injuries and knee pain from forming in the first place!
Myth #6. You have to have protein immediately after your workout.
For some people it’s practically taboo to not have a Muscle Milk immediately post workout. That mythical 30-minute window for protein consumption after you lift. New science has shown that it’s actually not necessary to guzzle down a protein shake after a session. Your total daily protein intake has a much greater effect on muscle protein synthesis than the just your post-workout meal.
Myth #7. Running is the best way to lose weight.
Another super common misconception, that running is a cure-all to whatever ails you. Need to lose weight? Go for a run. Stressed? Just run it out. Trying to look “toned”? Well you gotta run. Or do you? Running is actually not the most effective tool for weight loss, and for a lot of people it can cause more harm than good. Studies have shown time and time again that HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training – think hill sprints – burns more calories, increases the metabolism, and spares more muscle than steady state cardio like a jog. Don’t get me wrong, I personally love running and all the sweaty endorphins it can bring especially when done outside. If you’re not an avid runner, however, it’s best to start slow and work your way up to full-out marathons. Limited ankle mobility is the cause of most running pains, as the lack of flexibility in the joint makes it harder to absorb shock. The shock is then transferred up through your knees and hips, which can cause pain if you’re not accustomed to it. I’ll be doing a detailed post on my joint mobility routine soon, but in the meantime a Google search for “ankle mobility exercises” is a good place to start!
Myth #8. You need Gatorade during your workout.
People still drink Gatorade? I mean, their marketing is quite alluring and deceptive so I get it. Want to be a super star athlete? You definitely need to drink Gatorade for those magical electrolytes. Did you know your average bottle of Gatorade has a whopping 56 grams of sugar? That equates to 16 teaspoons or ONE THIRD of a CUP of straight sugar! Unless you’re a serious endurance athlete, you’ll be fine with regular water, I promise.
Myth #9. Machines are just as effective as free weights.
Machines in the gym definitely have their place. But if your goal is functional movement, serious athleticism, and increased stability, you should stick to free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells. When using a machine, you’re typically isolating a muscle. While this might sound like a great thing, you are loosing out on the stimulation of the supporting muscle groups and the core when you stick to a machine. They also have a tendency to decrease your natural range of motion, making them not an ideal choice if functionality is important to you.
Myth #10. Loosing weight will give you your dream physique.
Like many women, I once fell into the trap of thinking weight loss was the solution. As women, we’re pretty much conditioned since birth to constantly become the smallest version of ourselves. We think a smaller jean size or a lower number on the scale will equate to success or our dream body. That’s just not how it works. You can loose all the fat you want but if you don’t have muscle built underneath it? You’ll look tiny and lean, but not shapely and curvy like you had once hoped. Creating curves and muscle takes time, and fine tuning our physiques takes even more commitment. Not sure if you should focus on muscle growth or fat loss first on your fitness journey? As always, just send me an email and I will help you decide! You got this!