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Fitness Myths that Won't Die

No fitness article archive is complete without a myth debunking article. Here’s ours.
 

You Can Spot Reduce

 
This first myth is so common and since it makes some sense, logically, it doesn’t go away easily and is floating around probably since the day Man first felt the need to lose weight. Spot reduction means losing fat off a particular area by doing exercise that targets that area. Eg. doing crunches makes the tummy smaller. Well, if anything, you’re going to make your tummy bigger by doing lots of crunches. When women worry about getting their shoulders too big when they do a shoulder press, why do they think that a crunch will make their tummy smaller when in actual fact it is just another exercise (like the shoulder press) and will hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) the abdominal muscles?
 
A flatter tummy can only be achieved when fats that cover the abdominal muscles are being stripped off. So, the next time you wonder why you can’t get rid of your spare tire even when you’re doing 500 sit ups a day, take a look at your physical activity levels and how your diet is structured, make some positive changes and wait to see good things happen.
 

Thin Is ‘In’

 
Okay this is not exactly an exercise myth but it relates to one of the most important goals for guys to workout – to look good! So when people tell me that they don’t mind being skinny like a girl because it’s fashionable, I know they’re lying to themselves. Listen up, being lean and muscular is always ‘in’ and looked upon as a symbol of manhood. Another thing, having a 6 pack doesn’t mean you are muscular. I can pick up any skinny bastard off the street and he’ll have a 6 pack. Please always have some overall muscular development to go along with your prized possession. In conclusion, all men should weight train, not only to look like a real man but also to avoid looking like a woman with hairy legs.
 

Muscles Turn Into Fats When You Stop Training (pic suggestion: muscular dude à fat slob)

 
Will rock turn into gold? The answer is no and the same applies for muscles – they won’t magically turn into fats when you discontinue training. It is physiologically impossible. However, with that said, muscles do get smaller (atrophy) when you stop weight training since there is no more stimulus for the muscles to remain at their previous size. Couple that with indiscriminate eating, at levels when you’re at a heavier weight (with more muscles) and less physical activity, you start to put on fats. This cycle of events cause people to come to a conclusion that muscles turn into fats when in fact it is just muscles getting smaller and body fat levels increasing.
 
Therefore, train hard, cultivate a habit and develop a new lifestyle, maintain it for the rest of your life and you will reap the benefits for years to come.
 

Do High Repetitions With Low Weights To Get More Definition

 
This is probably the worst thing you can do in an attempt to lose fat and get muscular definition. During a fat loss phase, you should always strive to maintain the weight on the bar at pre-diet levels. This ensures that enough resistance and stimulus is present to ‘signal’ the muscle to remain at its normal size and prevent muscle loss. To achieve this, volume can be cut back by up to 50% in order to facilitate recovery, especially when food intake is decreased. However, very often the opposite happens – volume is bumped up and weights decreased in an attempt to get the ‘burn’. Sure enough, you get ‘burnt out’, start losing muscle and wonder what’s going on.
 
Always remember, when losing fats the number one priority is to manipulate your diet and fine tune it as you go along. Bump up your physical activity levels, do some cardio or metabolic work and start seeing the scale go down. Weight training mainly functions as a muscle preserving tool and not a fat loss tool.
 

Machines Are Safer & More Effective Than Free Weights

 
When using machines, there is:
Lack of use of stabilizing muscles which are essential for injury prevention and overall development of the human musculature
 
Unequal distribution of weight (with the stronger side ‘helping’ the weaker side, the strong side gets stronger and the weak side gets weaker)
 
Fixed planes of movement (movement is uniquely different for different individuals). Forcing the body to adapt to a fixed plane of movement unnatural to the body can lead to injuries overtime
 
While it’s true that movements using free weights are harder to learn at first, down the road they are surely more beneficial than machines. However, if your gym only has machines and nothing else, here’s a small tip for you – always do the movement unilaterally, eg. for the shoulder press do the left side first then the right side. At least you’re able to even out strength imbalances this way. Still, I’d strongly encourage you to switch to a better gym with free weights!