Health Facts and Myths
There are so many misunderstood health facts and myths when it comes to exercise, diet and weight training that it can be easy to become confused. Don’t worry though, I am here to help. I will be debunking 5 of the most popular myths in the fitness community. I hope you are ready for a fun ride!
Muscle Turns Into Fat and Fat Turns Into Muscle
This is the oldest myth in the “Myths of Weight Training” book, that is if such a book existed. As an overweight child this was something I heard time and time again. It typically came from older relatives like my aunts and uncles as well as my mother. They would say things like, “When you get older you can turn all that fat into muscle.” As encouraging as that was to hear while pounding donuts into my face while playing Nintendo, for some reason that statement just stuck with me.
When I started working out at around the age of 13 I began to hear, “You better not get too big because when you get older and can’t lift anymore all of that muscle is going to turn into fat.” It was stated as if the minute I sit down and relax the Fat Fairy was going to fly by and wave her magic wand at my pecs and turn them into breasts.
It was at this point I began researching about fitness and nutrition on my own, with assistance from my high school football coach. Needless to say, I quickly found out that fat and muscle are completely separate entities. You gain and lose them independently of each other. So no need to worry, get as jacked as you want!
Lifting Heavy Weights Will Make You Big and Lighter Weights Will Make You Cut
I still hear this from what I would consider an overwhelming majority of people. I even hear this from people who are very into fitness and have a background or degree associated with health. In actuality, the complete opposite of this myth is true.
Lifting heavy for lower volume (reps of 2-3) taxes the nervous system. It is the nervous system’s job to recruit muscle for contraction through electrical impulses. The more efficient someone’s nervous system is, the more muscle it can contract at once. This is the main contributor to someone’s strength. Now because the volume of lifting is low, there is not a lot of muscle damage that takes place with this type of training.
Damaging the muscle is what causes someone to grow. This is accomplished by doing higher volume training. (reps of 8-12 with multiple sets) High volume training, also called hypertrophy training, focuses a lot of tension on the muscle and will create micro tears in the fibers. The body then will rebuild these broken down fibers bigger and stronger to better handle the stress that caused the trauma. This adaptation occurs on your rest days. That is why rest is so important! (For more details check out THIS article…. and THIS article)
Now there is cross over between strength and size with both types of training, but lifting for high volume will yield much more results in regards to gaining size.
“If I Lift I will Look Freaky Like a Body Builder”
This one is for you ladies. This is the most common statement I hear from women that I train. Apparently most women have this idea that if they begin lifting weights they will immediately look like a cross between King Kong and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
In actuality, it is very difficult for a woman to get extremely muscular. Women naturally carry more fat than men do. Plus, women lack the muscle building hormone testosterone. So, unless a woman is doing massive amounts of volume for many years on end and is taking steroids, she will never look like a mutant. I promise.
Doing Tons of Sit Ups Will Give Someone a Six Pack
Everyone has a six pack. It’s true. We all do. Some of us just have a layer of fat over top of it so you can’t see it. The six pack muscles are called the rectus abdominis. These muscles are responsible for spinal flexion (think taking a bow) and stabilization of the body. It is good to do sit ups and crunches, but until you get rid of the fat you will never see your abs. Abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym.
It is Okay to Curl in the Squat Rack
No its not……