There is a lot of misinformation floating around when it comes to training. Whether it’s phrases from 80s workout tapes that have been misunderstood over the years or just very basic assumptions about training that people make, taking these statements at face value and applying them can keep you from making any real progress. In this post I touch on three common myths that many gym goers take as fact.
MYTH #1: If you have belly fat, just do a lot of ab work to get rid of it
Spot reducing the flabby parts of your body is not possible. In other words you can’t command your body to burn fat in the areas you want by training them specifically. The goal you should have in mind is to reduce overall body fat, rather than just belly fat since it might be the last bit of fat that your body burns off. What ab exercises will do is develop the core muscles which will be visible once you have burned enough overall body fat. To burn off fat you should consume fewer calories than you burn off (by around 150-200 calories) That means you should make sure that your nutrition is in check and that you are training at a high enough intensity, involving mostly compound exercises. You can also throw in jack knives, leg raises and plank variations into your training program to make those abs pop.
MYTH #2: No pain, no gain
No pain, no gain has got to be the most common phrase repeated by meatheads in gyms across the country. It’s the simplistic nature of it that makes it misleading. Sure, muscle soreness can appear at times when you increase your training volume or intensity. However, when adopting a strength program (involving rep schemes of 5 or less) soreness usually doesn’t come along with any gains you make on those programs. In that case the phrase can be “No pain decent gains” (I don’t expect that one to stick). My other problem with the expression is how people may interpret the word ‘pain’. What kind of pain are we talking about? If I sense that I aggravated my rotator cuff on my first triple drop set of the Arnold press should I still do two more because it’s in the program? This is when it is increasingly important to be in tune with your body. Pain can mean your body wants you to wuss out because it’s uncomfortable or it can be a warning sign that something bad is about to happen. Learn the difference.
MYTH #3: Weight training will make me bulky
This is generally a worry of people in the gym (often women but some men as well) who pass the weight room to get to the elliptical. The people who, whenever weight training is suggested they would picture themselves with 20 inch arms and delts like bowling balls then reply “No way, not interested”. This is really nothing to be afraid of because if you are not making a serious effort and commitment to pack on a lot of muscle it will not happen. Now, if you haven’t done much resistance training in the past and you adopt a resistance training program you will gain some muscle but it will not be the bulky look that you may think. In fact, that muscle gain may cause you to appear slimmer if you follow proper nutritional guidelines. Also, massive muscle gains depend on consistent strength gains, increased training volume and a caloric surplus. As long as you make sure that your caloric intake is at a maintenance or deficit level, and the bulk of your weight training is done at higher rep ranges (20+) you won’t be hulking out of your t-shirts.