by Robert Maxwell
Despite greater access than ever before to valid and informative scientific research, it seems a great many people are still very confused when it comes to separating health and fitness facts from fiction. I'm not sure why this is the case, since the internet could clear up this confusion with just a few clicks, but I suspect laziness and lack of interest are what keep most people from discovering the facts for themselves. This article is my humble attempt to debunk several of the most common strength, health and fitness myths I encounter in my work as a strength coach. Keep reading to discover the truth.
Lifting weights will make you bulky like a bodybuilder
Top bodybuilders are on drugs - lots of them - to get the physiques they have. They work very hard too, but don’t be naive enough to think you might accidentally end up looking like them if you pick up a barbell.
Weight loss is different for everyone. What works for me might not work for you
False. You are not a special snowflake. Weight loss works the same way for you as for me and every other human who’s ever lived and ever will live. If you eat less energy than your body burns, you’ll lose weight. Eat more than your body burns and you’ll gain weight. Eat the same amount your body burns and you’ll maintain your current weight. That’s it. Anything you’d tried that worked did so for these reasons. whether you realize it or not. See this study.
It’s possible to achieve a bodybuilder style physique with only training and diet
See the previous point. Given optimal training and nutrition, the human body can gain considerable muscle and strength, but nowhere near the size achieved by the mass monsters at the Mr. Olympia competition.
All that’s needed for good general health and fitness is to lose weight if you’re overweight, and do some form of cardio
Not if you want to keep all your limbs, joint and bones strong as you age. Cardio can’t help you there. At least not well enough. Only resistance training does these things optimally.
The type of exercise you choose doesn’t matter, as long as you’re doing something
Something is better than nothing, but that doesn’t mean all “somethings” are created equal in the realm of strength and fitness. For a healthy heart, you need to do something that gets your heart rate up. For strength and preservation of muscle and motor function, you need to do resistance training. Your week;y
Lifting heavy weights is bad for your joints
Only if you consider strengthening and thickening of tendons, bones and ligaments “bad”.
Women who lift heavy weights will end up looking like men
Only if their routine includes injecting or ingesting hormones that make this happen. Physiologically, most women gain muscle much less easily than most men. It's just the way they're wired. See study.
Doing deep barbell squats is bad for your knees
Wrong. Badly done squats are bad for your knees. Squatting too shallow is bad for your knees. Letting your legs collapse inwards during a squat is bad for your knees. Squatting with your feet and knees pointing straight ahead is bad for you knees. Squatting properly and regularly is good for your knees.
You should never lift anything with your back, only your legs
This silly old adage means nothing, because it’s impossible to lift any object without using your legs AND your back. What should be repeated is to never lift anything with a rounded, unflexed back. Keep your back and core flexed, rigid and straight as you hinge at the hips, grab the object, and stand up with it.
A high-protein diet is bad for your kidneys
No, it's not. A few researchers thought it was for a while, back in the 80's. Trouble was, there was no research that actually supported this, and there's still none today. In fact, studies have shown the opposite – that a high protein diet has no ill effects on healthy kidney function whatsoever.
Hard work makes you just as strong as lifting weights
Manual labour keep you active, and is therefore way better than sitting around doing nothing, but it doesn’t create the strength or protection from loss of muscle and bone density that resistance training does. The movements are too irregular, too inconsistent, and too light for that.
It’s not safe for older people to lift weights
More like it’s not safe for older people NOT to lift weights. Weak seniors often benefit most from barbell resistance training. It just needs to be done safely and intelligently. Here’s a study.
There are different, equally valid forms of physical strength
Physical strength is how hard you can push or pull something. How much force you can generate. That’s all, that’s it. Let's not confuse the issue.