Fitness Myths Part 2

Jacked and Tan Ken or MyFitness Barbie are back at it again, spreading well-meaning misguided advice to gym goers.

Like Yoda says, “The BRO is strong with them.”

Soreness as an Indicator of a “Good” Workout

Results. We want them. We all want to feel like our time spent in the gym was worthwhile. That euphoric feeling of “Man, I killed it!” and that tightness in the muscle, that fatigue, that accompanies a workout.

Sometimes, though, we don’t get sore.

So we think we need to do more. That more is better mentality creeps in. We begin thinking “I probably didn’t do enough if I’m not sore.”

Muscle Confusion

Don’t even go there. Just…*sigh* Please don’t. I almost can’t believe the fitness industry is still using this.

Since the dawning of P-90X and other household workout videos/DVDs, the words “muscle confusion” are the go-to buzzwords that are constantly thrown around as marketing ploys to sound enticing and alluring with the promise of results “toning” and burning fat, when in reality they are anti-weight training propaganda.

Sounds cool. But what does that even mean?? Muscle confusion is one of those terms that people can use interchangeably at any given time to sound smart, similar to “corrective exercise” and “anterior knee pain”. Kind of like an “emergency use only” button. Basically it’s nothing more than changing training variables in your training program every so often, including different exercises and methods of doing them so that the body doesn’t adapt to monotonous physical stimuli.

The truth is, progressive overload is king. Everyone should make an effort to increase load (increase sets or reps or both, or decrease rest intervals) – to do more work – each and every week. This is a fantastic approach and something many lifters often overlook in favor of the more sexy or unconventional answer

Light Weights and High Reps Helps You ‘Tone’

The media is obsessed with this one but the reality is that when people consider the term ‘toned’ or ‘toning’, they’re really just referring to muscular definition and shape, resulting in a firmer, more widely attractive body. Here’s the thing, looking ‘toned’ is possible, but it requires muscular development and lowering your body fat percentage in order to show off said development. Typically speaking, the best way to go about this is to engage in regular hypertrophy (lean muscle building) training with an emphasis on progressively overloading your muscles, or challenging them more and more over time, while eating at a surplus to support said growth. From there, it’s simply a matter of sending yourself into a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you’re burning in order to shed enough fat to get lean enough to show off those hard earned muscles once you’ve achieved the size you’re after.

When cutting, it’s best to lift lighter weights for higher reps

There seems to be a variety of misconceptions attached to weight training; a popular one in particular is the idea that lifting lighter loads for more reps (say 15+) will “tone” muscles better than using heavy loads for fewer reps (6 or less). Aside from the fact that “toning” is a nonsensical term when it comes to muscle morphology, there is little basis to the presumption that using light weights and doing many repetitions is superior for muscle hypertrophy over using a weight that you may only be able to complete 5 reps with per set.

At the end of the day muscle hypertrophy is muscle hypertrophy; muscles grow or atrophy, which is what changes their shape. Using a mix of several rep ranges with both higher and lower loads will ultimately be best for building and maintaining muscle.

Let your diet do its thing for fat loss and keep training much like you would when trying to gain muscle—what builds muscle best retains it best. Moreover, you cannot “spot-reduce” certain body areas no matter how much you target/stimulate them. If you want an etched six-pack of abdominals, skip the marathon sets of sit-ups; work instead on providing progressive overload to the abdominals and losing sufficient body-fat. The best way to ensure you’re building or maintaining muscle is having a progression scheme in place. When you go into the gym one of your main priorities should be trying to progress from your previous workout.

Keep in mind that progression doesn’t always have to mean adding weight to the bar, but can come in the form of adding more volume, increasing frequency, adding various intensity techniques, etc. Just focus on progressing/improving in some capacity each week.

 

References:
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Restrictive Dieting & Binge eating
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Stotland. Moderation: An alternative to restraint as a mode of weight self-regulation. Eating Behaviors 2012, 13;406-409.

MacDougall, J. D., Gibala, M. J., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, J. R., Interisano, S. A., & Yarasheski, K. E. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian journal of applied physiology, 20(4), 480-486.

McLester, J. R., Bishop, E., & Guilliams, M. E. (2000). Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,14(3), 273-281.

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Ostrowski, K. J., Wilson, G. J., Weatherby, R., Murphy, P. W., & Lyttle, A. D. (1997). The Effect of Weight Training Volume on Hormonal Output and Muscular Size and Function. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 11(3), 148-154.

Zhang K, Sun M, Werner P, Kovera AJ, Albu J, Pi-Sunyer FX, Boozer CN. Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):376-83.

 

Daniel Saunders