Fitness Myths Debunked: Part 1

Alright, summer’s over and you have eight, cold months to keep yourself in shape. Before you head back to the gym read along as I debunk, disprove, and falsify some of the most common myths in the fitness world.

Myth #1: “Protein Shakes are a must”

Most avid exercisers, especially those trying to bulk up, insist on having pre or post workout drinks packed with immense amounts of protein. Truth is you are wasting your time and money making such drinks packed with unnecessary supplements.  First things first, consuming protein before a workout does not do much for your body. Metabolically, the body needs carbohydrates and fats before exercising; only in extreme conditions does the body use protein as a fuel. After a workout we are limited in how much protein we can utilize to restore and build muscle and all other protein after that is stored as fat. That protein shake that you think is making you jacked may actually be accumulating fat. Instead of protein supplements eat foods rich in protein such as chicken, steaks, Greek yogurt, avocados, and nuts (probably not all mixed together).

Myth #2: “No pain, No gain”

The classic adage, “No pain, No gain” may be one of the most ridiculous exercise myths of all time. The purpose of exercise is to stress the body to a certain point so that it later adapts in a favorable way. If the stress put on the body is too great the benefits of exercise will be outweighed by the negative effects experienced. Quick history lesson for you: Austrian endocrinologist, Dr. Hans Selye, introduced the concept of stress in a medical context. The theory is that the body experiences shock, i.e. a workout, and after the stress is removed enters the repair phase. This is the desired process for all types of exercise. However, if the stress on the body is too great the body will experience exhaustion. The exhaustion phase can include over training, excessive fatigue, or injury and should be avoided at all cost. It is critical to exercise at an appropriate intensity for your experience and goals. Just because the guy on the bench next to you is grunting and throwing up 500 lbs. does not mean you should attempt a weight that will crush your body. Every time a meathead mutters the phrase “No pain, No gain”, Dr. Hans Selye rolls over in his grave.

Myth #3: “No caffeine before the gym”

In reality, the caffeine in coffee actually enhances athletic performance. For example, caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline into the blood, leading to the mobilization of fat which is then burned to power the body’s aerobic processes. All in all, caffeine allows the body to exercise longer at a given intensity. According to the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), markers of hydration levels such as body core temperature, sweat loss, plasma volume, and urine volume are unchanged by caffeine ingestion.

Myth #4: “Go from flab to fab”

Excuse me if I enter into an emphatic rant about this topic. Hearing gym-goers say, “I am going to eat what I want to gain some fat and later workout and turn it into muscle” is like hearing nails scratching on a chalkboard. This concept makes no sense for one simple reason: It is absolutely impossible to turn fat cells into muscle cells. They are completely different cell types and therefore one cannot be transformed into the other no matter how hard anyone tries. There are actually two separate processes at work during exercise. Fat is metabolized or burned as a fuel. During exercise, specifically resistance or weight training, muscles are faced with a stressor and must overcome the identified stressor. After exercising, the body responds by developing new muscle. This relates directly back to Hans Selye’s theory of adaptation that was discussed earlier.  Now that you know the truth you will want to smack every ignorant gym rat that is planning to turn their flabs into abs.

These are just a handful of the array of widespread fitness myths. If you have any myths that you want debunked let us know below!

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