So, as a "health and fitness professional" I get asked a lot of questions regarding health and fitness. A lot of these questions come from well-intentioned curiosity and a lot of these questions are a by-product of the relentless stream of "health-fat-loss-fitness-toning-trouble-spots-low-carb-bootcamp-Jillian-Michaels "nonsense that constantly bombards us on TV, in magazines, and on the interweb. "My Nike Trainer app tells me I should be doing 20-30 reps of everything?"
"If I lift heavy weights, I'll bulk up and look like Arnold in the 70s."
"Cardio and salad are the best way to get ready for summer."
"Really, it's the healthiest diet I've ever been on. I only eat things from a straw." (the-horrible-new-diet-that-totally-stinks)
Here are the top fitness myths I would like to see die, forever.
1. Women should not lift weights heavier than 12 pounds. Further, women should abstain from: deadlifts, Olympic lifts, barbell squats, bench pressing etc.
This is the biggest crock ever.
Reasons why weight training is in everyone's (but especially women's) best interest:
According to Tufts University, the two leading predictors of lifespan are: How much leanbody mass you maintain over the course of your lifetime. How strong you are.
- The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. It is estimated that for every pound of muscle you gain you burn an extra 50 calories a day. People that means you get to EAT MORE.
- Weight training improves insulin sensitivity. Let me break that down for you: the food (blood sugar) you ingest can be stored either in your liver and muscles as glycogen or creep into fat cells increasing their fattiness and size significantly. Fat cells have a pretty much limitless capacity to keep growing. If you weight train hard enough and frequently enough blood sugar is required in your muscle cells to recover from all the activity you have performed. Your body will become more efficient at utilising the food you consume, you will loose fat. It’s simple really. Running won't give you the same hormonal response.
2. Cardio is the best way to lose fat. In fact, running gets you fit.
- Lies, lies, lies.
- To paraphrase Charles Poliquin, "Humans are meant to either sprint or walk long distances."
- In my experience, running gets you: injured, complacent, and weak. But don't take my word for it. Start any marathon training program you find online with no resistance training and see how you feel in a month.
- Furthermore, Less Muscle = Lower Metabolism.
3. If you fall of the wagon of your (no-carb, no sugar, no solid food, all grapefruit) super restrictive diet, you are a bad person and your body is broken.
- Health is about balance. The fat loss you're so desperately after will never come if you spend more time stressing and punishing yourself over a minor weekend nutrition slip than taking time to understand that finding your own personal feeling of balance and wellness is extremely important.
- Being good to yourself, and this includes having compassion for yourself, is the first step towards health.
4.But I want to lengthen and tone my muscles, not bulk up.
All genders are guilty of this irrational fear mongering. When people tell me they want to "tone or lengthen" I sigh internally and try to explain what they're looking for is fat loss, not toning. Strong and lean = healthy, functional and less disease prone.
The best way to get lean is to get strong. And we do that by lifting weights. Properly, with respect for the generations of strength coaches and athletes that came before us.