Common Training Myths & Misconceptions


Sometimes, conversations start to feel like a never-ending worn out tuba record. Some people have their mind-set and just wont budge.

“but muscle turns into fat”

“I want to tooooooonneee my muscles”

I’m referring to the training misconceptions and myths that are all over the internet and shared like a plague in the weight room.

While you can’t get blood from a turnip, here’s to hopefully shedding some light on some of the most common fallacies and myths.

This is nowhere near a comprehensive list, so feel free to comment below and add some of your own.

Myth #1 Muscle Turns into Fat and Fat into Muscle

I’ve heard this so many times. Some are convinced that when you workout, youre turning fat into muscle. They will refuse to lift weights because when you stop, all the muscle turns into fat. But “CARDIO. AH YES !! CARDIO burns the fat” …….

First, I would like to start this out with an ‘implied’ Facepalm if I may….

Muscle and Fat are two completely different tissues. Muscle is made up of large number of cells that together form muscle fibers. These fibers can grow in size, density and efficiency depending on the stimulus provided.

Fat. Well fat is adipose tissue. Body fat is directly related to your caloric balance. If you consume more than you burn and more than your body needs for energy, it will be stored. Neither muscle nor fat can magically transform into one other.

People get this confused since when you workout, you can get away with eating more without putting on the weight due to the extra energy expended during the workout. If you stop working out you need to lower your intake to account for the decrease in energy expenditure.

Not to mention, when associated with weight training, the increase in muscle mass stretches out the fat under the epidermis giving you a slimmer “look”. Once you stop, the muscle atrophies and the fat has more space to move around giving out the sense that the muscle has turned into fat.

Its like saying, you can turn water into wine.

Myth # 2 Hours of exercise are better than a few minutes spent working out.

Hours of exercise can be beneficial when it comes to improving endurance levels and cardiac efficiency. However, a recent study performed on 2 groups showed different results in terms of physical fitness. The first group exercised 3 times per day, each bout being a 10 minute jog at moderate pace versus the second group who exercised 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Both were found equally fit after testing.

Another variable that makes a difference is the “intensity” and “type” of exercise. Sure I can walk for 3 hours a day. But can you sustain an hour of tabata training or 2 hours of intense weight lifting? Are you really exercising and seeing results with 3 hours of walking?

Myth # 3 High Reps / Low weights “shape” and “tone” muscles

You hear this a lot from girls and guys who are dieting down. “oh you know, im using high reps and lowering my weights so I can get definition”

Raaaahhhheeeeaaallllyyyy now?!

You can’t shape a muscle. Some one may have a 6 pack , 4 pack and them lucky bastards have 8 packs. Needless to say, it has nothing to do with their exercise routine. The shape of your muscle is embedded in your genetics. You can alter the size of your muscles but not the shape.

The “definition” or “toning” that you are seeking has to do with body fat levels. You need to diet down, reducing your overall body fat, which will make your muscles more visible. Diet past the 10% mark for guys and 15% for girls and that is when you will see muscle striations and them “Hawt abz”.

Myth # 4 Cardio beats weight lifting for fat loss

First of all….

Second , if you are questioning the statement above, please (for the love of GOD) read (this ,this and this )

Cliff Notes

Excessive cardio = skinny fat

Weight lifting + moderate cardio = increased metabolism, improved appearance, better nutrient utilization, increased bone density and so much more health benefits

Myth # 5 Doing Ab Exercises Gets Rid of Abdominal Fat

I heard these a lot….

“I do so many ab exercises, but I cant seem to lose the gut”

“can you give me an ab workout for 6 packs”

“ so how do I target the ‘lower’ abs”

First things first. As long as you are above 10% / 15% body fat for guys and girls respectively, forget about seeing your abs. Second, your abs are just like any other muscle. It needs to be trained and given enough rest to grow. Not to mention the right diet to support it.

Your abdominals are made mostly of fast twitch fibers, meaning that they can be trained with a higher frequency and are best stimulated through shorter rest periods.

Nonetheless, Training them on a daily basis will do you no good. Just like you spend time and effort picking out a program and setting up rest days to follow, you should structure and periodize your ab workout accordingly.

This point brings me to a related misconceived notion;

Spot Reduction………

Read this ….. You’re welcome

A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts found that subjects who did 5,000 sit-ups all lost the same amount of fat from their thighs, butts and stomach.

Myth # 6 Stretching before exercise reduces the risk of injury

Warming up prior to engaging in exercise is important. Dynamic warm-ups involving the deep range of motion has been seen to be the most beneficial. However, when it comes to stretching, countless studies did not show any benefit in regards to preventing injury, reducing soreness or improving performance. On the contrary, you risk injury if you stretch a cold muscle.

There is no harm in stretching, but make sure you warm up. Stretching a cold muscle can increase the risk of injury and has proven to be counterproductive.

Myth # 7 Being thin means you’re healthy and you don’t need exercise

Studies have found that overweight people who part take in regular exercise are healthier than people who don’t engage in exercise. Just because you are at your ideal weight does not deem you healthy. Lipid profiles of non active average weight individuals can be just as bad as overweight individuals. I’ve highlighted an example of this in regards to fatty organs (Silent Killer; visceral fat article)

Exercising has numerous health benefits including but not limited to:

–       Reduced blood pressure

–       Stress Relief & reduced depression

–       Increased bone density

–       Improved lipid profile

–       Reduced risk of cardiac diseases

–       Weight management

Myth # 8 Exercising in the morning is best as it jump starts your metabolism

While exercising in the morning gives you the energy to get through the day, exercising in the evening also alleviates the accumulated stress and gives you a good nights rest. The best time to exercise is the most convenient time that fits your schedule.

There are no conclusive studies showing either time to be superior than the other. Each has its benefits.

Myth # 9 Sweating is directly related to fat burning

Sweat is the body’s version of climate control. Sweating is induced when your body’s temperature rises and has nothing to do with the amount of fat being used for energy. People sweat at different rates and there are many variables that affect sweating such as humidity, temperature, clothing, and diet.

A better indicator to look for is, your heart rate

Myth # 10 Soreness is an indicator of a good workout

In the initial stages of incorporating weight training or a new movement, many encounter soreness and in the initial “shock” phase. Some people may also experience delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS). As your body adapts to the new stress (adaptation phase), muscle soreness reduces. Veteran lifters seldom sense soreness but that doesn’t mean that their workouts aren’t worthwhile. As long as you are getting stronger, there is no need to change your workout. Once strength gains plateau, add progressive overload and / or change-up your workout.

Never associate pain with a good workout. Differentiate pain from soreness

Myth # 11 Low intensity exercise burns more fat than high intensity exercise

This is actually true but not in the intended context. Low intensity exercises uses fat as the primary source of energy. As intensity increases, the energy system switches to anaerobic pathways that use carbohydrates and glycogen as the main energy source. The myth is debunked in the sense that while more fat is used with low intensity exercises, the overall calories burned are much higher with high intensity exercise. At the end of the day, the deficit created is what will attribute to overall fat loss.

Myth # 12  Machines are safer than free weights

This is not entirely true. Machines do have some benefits in terms of isolation in more developed athletes and a starting point for beginners. Having said that, machines are typically fixed and have a fixed path of motion. While seat height and other variables change, if not adjusted to fit the person can induce shearing forces on joints and muscles which can result to injury. With free weights (and some degree of knowledge) your body makes adjustments and even uses stabilizing muscles that would otherwise remain untrained with machines.

This myth also brings me to another common belief;

Myth # 13 Squats are dangerous beyond parallel. Knees should never travel past your toes

When done correctly, squats are one of the best lifts you can do for overall muscle gain. Anything performed incorrectly will pose some degree of risk.  The most common injuries associated with squatting are to the knees and lower back. This is more often than none a result of poor form (rounding of the back and bad technique).

Unless you have an injury where you are instructed NOT to squat below parallel, squatting in full range of motion is beneficial in improving hip mobility that many of us lack due to our desk job life styles.

When it comes to the “toes” behind the knees issue, its often believed and even preached by some trainers. In everyday life, our toes pass our knees in various movements. Look at where your knee is as you go up the stairs, bend down to pick something off the ground. In all these cases, your knees go past your toes. The risk of injury happens due to hip rotation during the movement. Under the force of the weight, rotating your hips, puts your knees at great risk of injury.

Nutrition Myths

I’ll wrap it up here and leave it to you to post up some of your own.

Dont 4get to like & comment 🙂 

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