Fitness and nutrition are tough topics. Add in an Internet full of lies and Instagram feeds worth of fit tea bullshit and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
I’m here to bust those myths and help you reach your goals by sticking to the truth and finding what works for you. Please remember, before taking any advice from me or anyone else, you should consult with your doctor.
LET’S DIVE IN.
The Lie: Lifting Makes You Bulky
It pains me that this myth exists, especially for women. The reason so many people believe this is because weightlifting was originally made popular by bodybuilders and powerlifters: people who eat, breathe, and sleep weight training. So yes, they’re big and bulky, but that’s by design. And it took them years of dedication to reach that status–they didn’t do a few bicep curls and turn into the Hulk, neither will you.
For the average human lifting weights 3 to 6 times per week and eating a healthy diet, lifting won’t produce the same results. Women especially don’t have the testosterone levels required to bulk up in the same way men do. Sure, we’ve all seen female competitors with giant biceps and shredded shoulders, but they’re professionals–they do that as a job. Fearing you’ll reap the same results from your gym sessions is like refusing to sing in the shower because you don’t want to end up on American Idol. Chill.
This is a dangerous myth because it steers people away from weightlifting and its many health benefits. When you lift weights safely and correctly, you’re improving heart health, boosting your metabolism, keeping your joints and ligaments well lubricated, increasing your body’s functionality, and regulating hormones.
The truth: Lifting won’t make you bulky, but it WILL improve nearly every aspect of your health.
The Lie: Protein Is #1
I’ve been there: afraid to eat something because it lacks protein or desperately searching for a high-protein snack to meet my daily macros. Somewhere along the lines we fell into the trap that protein is key to a fit, strong body.
Yes, we need protein. Yes, if you want to build muscle, recover well, and build a lean body you need to consume plenty of protein. But it’s okay to eat meals that aren’t centered around the “P” word. It’s okay to reach for a snack that’s strictly carbs. It’s okay not to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every single day.
In fact, if you’re consistently eating highly processed foods or gulping protein shakes just to reach a certain amount of protein daily, it’s probably a good idea to step back and reevaluate. Our bodies were made to consume real, good foods made from real, good ingredients. I promise, your muscles would rather you eat a big bowl of fruit and yogurt than chug another fake protein drink.
The truth: Your body needs protein to grow and be healthy, but it also needs carbs and fats–and it doesn’t need protein 24/7.
The Lie: Cardio = Fat Loss
Most people interested in fitness are looking to reduce fat, build muscle, or maintain a certain level of functionality and endurance. Unfortunately, for those looking to lose fat, cardio seems to be the go-to solution.
Cardio can help you lose weight and burn fat, but it’s not your best option. In fact, lifting weights is often found to be superior. Why? A few reasons:
- Lifting weights boosts your metabolism for up to 30+ hours after your workout, helping you burn more calories even when you’re finished working out.
- Weight training increases lean muscle mass which increases the number of calories you burn as a whole.
- When you weight train, you’re replacing fat loss with muscle. While this doesn’t equate to more fat loss, it does help shape your body into the look you want.
Don’t get it twisted though, cardio does have great health benefits and can definitely assist in fat loss! But it isn’t an end all be all solution.
The truth: If you want to burn calories, shed fat, and build lean muscle–weight training is the way to go.
The Lie: Carbs Are The Enemy
I am a carb queen. I love all carbs, especially Sour Patch Kids and potatoes. Honestly, my spirit macro is the carbohydrate and I’m not afraid to admit it.
For some reason, carbs have gained a bad rep. People literally fear them. They’ll refuse to eat certain things because the carb count is “too high.” Whatever that means. And if your meal is more carb than protein, forget about it, trash that sh*t.
PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF STARCH, EAT YOUR CARBS. Sure, like anything else, there’s such thing as too much. But “too much” is really dependent on your activity level, metabolism, goals, and general health. NOT what someone on Instagram designated as a good amount.
Carbs are actually fantastic for your health and fitness goals. They help your muscles recover and build. They give you energy throughout the day. They can improve your mood and promote the production of Serotonin. And if none of that matters to you, they taste great, so eat them.
The truth: Carbs are not the enemy. Your false beliefs and fear of food is.
The Lie: Take One Rest Day Per Week
Rest is incredibly important not just for your physical health but your mental and emotional wellbeing. When I say “rest,” I’m talking about days off from the gym.
If you’re anything like me, you were taught to take one rest day per week. Which is a great start, especially if you’re someone who sucks at resting *cough* me *cough*. But truth be told, two or three rest days might be better depending on your individual situation and goals.
Personally, when I take more than one day off from the gym, I find my body feels better, my lifts are stronger, and I actually hold less fat. I’m at my best aesthetically and functionally when I lift 5 times per week, go on a hike or walk, and eat plenty of food.
If you ask an expert, they’ll tell you to take two days off for optimal results–so I’m not entirely sure where the whole “one day off” idea came from, but it’s a load of crap. Get in the gym, work your booty off, eat tons of food, get quality sleep, and spend time doing things you love every single day. Then rest, rest, rest, repeat.
The truth: Rest is vital no matter your goals–and it’s 100% okay to take more than one day off per week.
The Lie: Women Should Lift Differently Than Men
It turns out, women have the same muscles as men. It also turns out we (women) can do everything men can do (in regards to the gym). Sure, we might have different hormone levels, but that’s about it.
If you’re a female, please do not buy plans or pay a trainer for women-specific training. It’s not a thing. Lift, run, move like a human, regardless of your gender. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
The truth: Your workouts should not be tailored to your gender–they should be tailored to your goals.
The Lie: Your Knees Shouldn’t Go In Front Of Your Toes
If you lift weights or know anyone who does, you’ve probably heard that your knees shouldn’t go in front of your toes on movements like the squat because it could cause injury and/or pain. Except science doesn’t back it up.
Yes, when your knees move forward past your toes the amount of torque on your knee increases. However, when you shift backward instead, placing the torque on your hips and low back, you’re actually at greater risk for overload. Our knees can handle tons of weight and pressure, so the torque your knees experience when you shift forward is well within the limits of what’s safe.
Not to mention that if you want to reach full depth on a squat, you’ll most likely need to shift forward a bit. PS: Please squat to depth.
The truth: Your knees naturally shift forward in front of your toes on a full-depth squat and that’s okay! They can handle it. Unless you have an injury or previous pain.
The Lie: If You Don’t Feel Sore, You Didn’t Train Hard Enough
We’ve all had those workouts where you bust your ass, come home, go to bed, and wake up without any soreness at all. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “Dang, I must not have worked that hard!”
WRONG. There are plenty of good reasons you might not be sore, even if you worked really hard.
Science says we get sore for a few reasons:
- We’ve overworked our larger muscles (global muscles) and haven’t given them the rest and love they deserve
- We’re dehydrated
- We have improper nutrition
- We don’t get enough rest
It’s possible you’re not sore because you slept great the night before, ate quality food, drank plenty of water, and pushed yourself enough without overdoing it. Which you should take as a win–not a loss. However, being sore isn’t necessarily “bad.” It might just mean you worked really hard and pushed yourself in ways you hadn’t before. Either way, if you’re in the gym and working hard, you’re already way ahead of the pack.
The truth: Soreness is not a great indication of how hard you worked or how fit you are.