Following up with our 10 myths idea, we are looking at 10 common exercise myths that many have heard, and even believe. Just like our 10 Nutritional Myths article, some of these will be obvious to you, and some won’t even be believable to you. It all depends on your education and background with fitness.
Just know, these are legitimate myths. This list isn’t just formed from opinion. So, lets get into it and see your reaction!
1 – Cardio is better than weight training for fat loss
This is probably the most common of the exercise myths that I personally encounter often with new clients who have never done any kind of weight training. They think that cardio, usually low intensity steady state, is what you need to be doing if you are looking to lose fat. Weight training is reserved for muscle growth in their mind.
This couldn’t be further from the truth though. Weight training can burn more calories and shape your body much better than cardio. There are other reasons to prioritize weight training too. If you are looking to “tone” (I hate that word by the way, stop using it people) then weight training is necessary. Nobody ever looked toned by only doing cardio.
You shouldn’t drop cardio out, however. Instead, opt for something intense and short, like our Heart Rate Recovery Conditioning Intervals.
2 – Lifting heavy makes women look too bulky
I’m not going to explain this, you can find the scientific info everywhere. Instead, I’m going to give you real life examples of why this idea is stupid.
Mattie Rogers – American record holder in weightlifting!
Cynthia Leu – Powerlifter who deadlifted 313.5 lbs at only 137 lbs body weight!
Brooke Wells – Elite level Crossfit Athlete!
3 – Higher reps and lower weights are better for fat loss
For some reason, people, especially women, look for any excuse to stay away from the heavy weights. Higher reps and lower weights have their place in an all around plan, like our optimal training layout. However, it should not be the focus of your program. It definitely shouldn’t be happening before the heavy weights either. Heavier strength work is more effective if you are looking to lose fat, although they both have merit in a complete program.
4 – You need hours of cardio every week to be healthy
The old idea that you need to do low intensity cardio every day is out the window. No more! You don’t need hours of cardio every week to ensure heart health and to reap the benefits of cardiovascular work. In fact, HIIT is just as effective in half the time, or less.
Stick to something simple like this: 20 minutes of HIIT 3 times a week. This will be plenty, especially if you are training intensely using low rest periods and superset tactics. Weight training with these methods will actually provide cardiovascular benefits as well.
5 – Squats are bad for your knees, Deadlifts are bad for your back
Weak legs and a weak back are bad for your body, not the lifts. Look, these lifts take a little time to master the form. Without proper form, they can be dangerous. However, most people who have mastered the form and stick to reasonable weights (ie – not maxing out regularly) won’t have much issue with their knees and back.
Even better to support your joints, invest in some neoprene knee sleeves and a powerlifting-quality lifting belt. Supportive equipment can actually help your form too, although you need to master the form without the equipment to reap the benefits.
The takeaway is that you should master your form and focus on quality over quantity. Don’t lift heavier for the sake of your ego. If you master the form, then these lifts are quite safe.
6 – If you aren’t sore, you didn’t do enough
If you check out our article on muscle protein synthesis, I talk about how soreness doesn’t correlate to hypertrophy. Soreness and results aren’t as linked together as you think.
Feeling a little soreness is a great feeling. However, don’t see it as a gauge of whether you put in enough effort or not. I could put you on a program where you’d get less sore than you probably ever have and still get you great results. Soreness does not automatically equal results.
7 – You should workout every day
Health professionals recommend exercise every day. What they don’t tell you is that the real recommendation should say that you should get physical activity every day. That doesn’t mean you have to go smash the weights or hit the treadmill every day. NEAT (non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis) is the way to describe staying active without traditional exercise.
It’s true, you should be active every day. However, the law of diminishing returns makes intense exercise pretty useless. Your body needs rest just as much as it needs stimulus from the gym.
8 – If you want to gain muscle, you should be hitting 8-12 reps per set
The ever-present bodybuilder mentality that you need to be hitting 8-12 reps per set if you want to make gainz!
Research has shown that hypertrophy is produced when training with low reps and high weight, moderate reps and weight, and high reps and low weight. That article only talks about reps up to 12 per set, but results have been shown with reps as high as 15+ per set, as long as the sets are going to muscular failure.
What you need to be doing is training very hard, no matter what the rep range is. If you take sets to failure, you are ensuring that muscle growth will occur, given the right nutrition and recovery.
9 – You need to switch exercises often to promote muscle confusion
Plenty of trendy programs have came out and said you need different exercises all the time to ensure that your muscles don’t get used to the same stimulus. In reality, muscle confusion is not as extreme as people seem to believe.
You don’t need to change exercises as often as some of these people are saying. In fact, as long as you are following the rules of progressive overload, exercise switching becomes useless if done too often.
Instead, you can periodize your exercise selection like you would with a training program. When you stall out on a typical linear periodization on a certain movement, maybe it’s time to switch it out. Your body does adapt to certain stimulus. It’s called the General Adaptation Syndrome, or GAS. So, when you hit a wall, you can switch up the exercise to change the stimulus.
Don’t get carried away though. This only needs to be done a few times a year in reality. A good tactic is to switch up exercise selection once every 8-12 weeks, regardless if you hit a plateau with that movement, or not.
10 – Men and women should train differently
Once again, women think they should train differently so they don’t get as big as the guys. We already discussed that myth. In reality, men and women can follow the same training layout for the most part.
Women do have a different anatomy, especially with their pelvis. In some ways, this can be an issue when it comes to lower body work. However, most people won’t even have a problem. For those that do, lower body exercises may need to be adjusted.
Do you know of more common exercise myths?
I’m sure you do. Let me know with a comment below and we can discuss it. If not, just take time to accept the 10 exercise myths I’ve laid out here. If you have your doubts, make sure to check out all the links that I placed in the article and do your own research if you need to!