The Top 10 Fitness Myths (busted!)

The Top 10 Fitness Myths (busted!)

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And here’s the countdown to the Top 10 Fitness Myths…

#10 Women will get Bulky from Lifting Weights

Let me be more specific – women are afraid that lifting HEAVY weights will make them bulky. Crappy fitness videos abound with women performing biceps curls and triceps kickbacks with dumbbells that should only be used as paper weights.

Women can not get big and bulky for one very good reason…their bodies don’t produce enough testosterone to build the large bulky muscles you’re likely to see in bodybuilding ads. Testosterone is a key ingredient to putting on muscle mass, and the only way women can get this type of big bulky look is by taking steroids and hormone injections. This is why you see bulky female body builders.

So don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights if you’re a woman. Lifting heavy will make a woman strong, not manly. And personally, I find a strong woman sexy as hell.

70 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome! I couldn’t agree more with you on these points and feel so validated as a fitness professional to hear like-minded pros. I will be passing this along as an educational tool.

  2. If long slow runs did the trick I’d be showing 6-pack abs. I ran a marathon in ’07 and in all of the training I maybe lost a few pounds. I didn’t run to lose weight mind you, I’m just agreeing that LSD’s won’t shed the flab.

    • I guess this may be a case of different strokes for different folk. Long distance running is my thing I’ve lost 70 pounds so far hitting the pavement and that’s before any training for the marathon next year!

  3. That’s good stuff, Vic! I think #10 is huge as it’s very important for the health of women as they age. Too many weak, decrepit women running around.

    I also love #8. I think the most important exercise that anyone can do is the deadlift. It’s functional, can be done without a spotter, and as long as proper form is maintained you’re unlikely to get hurt. Very little likelihood of having muscle imbalances from a lift like the deadlift also.

    Cheers
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  4. Vic,

    Great post buddy! I slipped a disk close to 20 years ago using the leg press machine, but never had troubles with squats when I was younger. Machines can be useful when used in moderation, but like you I believe that routines should be structured around free-weights.

    Also…funny that you mention looking fit -vs- being fit. Most of the “muscle-bound” guys in my experience have terrible conditioning. Guys in elite military units or athletics that require good conditioning (like soccer) have better proportions than most guys in the gym.

    Here is another myth…”Getting Sore Being an Indicator of a Good Workout”. I remember using all of those traditional “80’s” bodybuilding techniques like forced reps, negatives, pre-exhausting the muscle, etc…using tons of sets and reps and getting extremely sore. Breaking down the muscle too much is counterproductive.

  5. Great list. I always like to say if aerobics was the answer for real weight loss, the 80s would of ended the obesity epidemic (and we would all be stuck still wearing neon headbands). I would also add the myth of eating 6x a day to increase metabolism, as it doesn’t (it’s just a way to keep in calorie deficit for weight loss, that’s all).

  6. Great list! #5 babay… I love that one. I always want to tell “that guy” to “Keep holding on to that letterman’s jacket. I’m sure you can still throw a football over those mountains, just like back in ’82.” Hahaha

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  7. Hi. Just found your site through Rusty’s fitness black book site. I have been doing a 5×5 stronglift routine (www.stronglifts.com) for the past 5 weeks and am seeing great results.. When I started I couldnt do 1 pull up (even though I had been training in the gym for 6 months) I can now do 8 pretty easily. My strength has gone through the roof!However I recently heard that working out can accelerate hairloss!! This has really freaked me out! and I’m considering giving up working out altogether even though I love it! Is this a myth. I cant seem to find a definitive answer anywhere!

    great site btw!!

  8. @ Rusty: Right on about soreness not necessarily being the indicator of a good workout. Strength training in particular usually does not make me very sore. Log those stats and let the numbers tell the tale!

    @ Mike OD: I graduated high school in ’89 so I’m feeling the neon headbands. I still have a predilection for chics in leg warmers. 😛

    @ Ciaran: Ummm, hair loss? Well, the best I can tell you is that the 5×5 program is great and very well should increase testosterone production. And I think I remember reading once that bald men have a higher T-count statistically. But man, I’m no follicle expert. Sorry. :(

    @ theoddbody: Ah, yeah! Set up the ab blaster, baby. And the thigh-master too, with Suzanne Summers. Told you I was a child of the ’80’s. 😉

  9. This is a great list! I wish more women would listen to that advice about building muscle, I know a young female athlete who does lots of weight training, she lifts heavier weights than my husband and doesn’t have bulky muscles, she’s just very strong. She actually developed a weight training programme for my husband, essentially teaching him to do the same thing she did and he bulked up even though she didn’t, and she is still lifting heavier weights than him. Just proves that women & men can train in the same way but build strength very differently.

  10. Ciaran,

    You won’t end up being a baldy like me unless it runs in the family :) If you do start going bald, make sure you pay attention to style. I visited your site and judging by your cutting edge graphic design work, you probably dress well with your own style. I’m glad you clicked over to Vic’s site. This site will explode soon…so much good info!

    Rusty

  11. Horny Goat weed!!! lol! Can’t thank you enough for this site Vic. I’ve stumbled on to a treasure chest of fitness here. The links you have provided to all the other awesome sites are so helpful. I’m hooked!

  12. Great site and post! Thanks to you and Rusty, who directed me here.
    A possible myth pertains to forbidding kids from gyms because it would damage growth cartilages. I think that would happen only if kids pulled heavy weights, not did free bodyweight training.

  13. Oops, the “Lifting increases your testosterone production” is also a good one that you should put on the myth list as lifting has nothing to do with testosterone production. Testosterone levels are determined by other things. Among them, testosterone production requires cholesterol, and cholesterol for testosterone production comes exclusively from the liver. It has nothing to do with the cholesterol you ingest. Therefore, if your diet is on-spot but you still have a high cholesterol level, you will almost certainly find out that you’re low on testosterone. And yes, lifting heavy can cause hair loss due to hormone imbalances. Eating and resting right will avoid this.

  14. Rusty,

    Cheers for that. Hairloss does run in my family. In fact most of male cousins on my fathers side were bald by the time they were 25. My dad is bald and my younger brother is showing signs of hair thinning. I am 28 and havnt noticed any signs of it myself… but I think it may only be a matter of time although I dont want to speed the process up if I can help it! I appreciate what your saying about style. If I do go bald I guess I’ll just concentrate on my physique and make the most of what I’ve got! lol

    Thanks for checking out my site!

  15. Hey Vic,

    Just came across your site by pure fluke but loving the content. I love #9 because most guys think yoga is for women but after the first time I did it, I was hooked!

    Great list and looking forward to your updates.

    Nehal Kazim

  16. Enjoyed what I read, I’m 52 years old work out three times a week. I only use free weights. I deadlift once a week, squat 3 times a week, bench press, overhead press, pullups and chinups, and pushups. I never work just my shoulders or arms. I don’t need to. I don’t run anywhere ever. I weight 210 pounds with a 32 inch waist. Free weights are the bomb.

  17. @Tom: Here’s how I get my female clients to lift heavy. . . I ask them how much their husband / boyfriend weighs. Then if it’s not too much (200lbs or under), I tell them our goal is to be able to deadlift their man. Man, they start pulling that bar with a vengeance!

    @Bonnie: Amen. Women and men can use the exact same exercises and protocols when training.

    @Rambodoc: I agree kids can train – and train hard – relative to their individual growth development.

    @ NixNet: Thanks for your hormone expertise.

    @ Brian: Many, many, thanks.

    @ Nehal: Yoga straight up kicked my ass. No joke.

    @ Kenny Bob: Dude, you are a f’n machine! Way to show the young bucks how it’s done!

  18. Hey Vic, this is an awesome list. As a woman, it drives me insane to hear other women say they don’t do strength training, because they don’t want to get bulky! 35lb kettlebell swings haven’t turned ME into Schwarzenegger.

    The one I have the hardest time following is the slow cardio. Granted, I only do 20 minute runs, but I find myself feeling like I’m not trying hard enough when I do intervals rather t. Guess I need to turn up the incline, eh?

    Thanks again for the great post!

  19. Hey Vic, just wanted to say that your site friggin rocks, I love all of your advice and tips. Ive been working out for 6 months without any type of success until I started using your advice and so far so good.

  20. @Stephanie: As far as intervals go, if you’re not seeing stars and questioning your ability to survive the session, you have plenty of room to ramp up the intensity. Seriously.

    @ Eric: Thanks, man! Glad to hear you’re seeing some results. Keep it up and train hard!

    @griffin: Man, everyone needs to workout. I’m not saying you need to push the iron or make yourself nauseous with circuit training (although I strongly recommend them both). I am saying the body is designed to move and everyone should find a physical activity that they enjoy and engage in it regularly.

  21. Vic I love this. Your tep ten myths are spot on as is all of the information you give. I love the humor in your frustration! It is amazing how many people are hoodwinked by marketeers into so many pills, powders and gimmicks when they could actually achieve great transformations with a little properly focused w…w…w…oh yeah- the dreaded “w” word: WORK!

  22. Ei Vic Great Article indeed… specially about that slow long running thing… i do agree with you there… im a runner and regularly run 5 miles a day and i do enjoy it… but the i lost a lot more pounds and flab by incorporating sprints when running… btw… love your site…very informative indeed and im going to take what i’ve learned and incorporate it in my workout routine…thanks :))

  23. @ Chris – Thanks man. I agree, people need to WORK!

    @Rolan – I’m glad you enjoy the site! It makes it easier to write when people are getting help from it.

  24. Vic,
    Great to see that you found your calling. I saw Quan Jang in Nashville last year and we had a beer. I’m pretty proud as I know you are, to have been one of his students and I’m glad to see you’ve become an instructor. I was searching for him on Youtube and came across your posts. You’ve got some great things to say. Nice job.

    I’ll swing by the studio sometime and say hi.

    Later

    • @ Rich: Man, the internet is amazing! Quan Jang Cook actually taught a seminar here at my place over the summer because I was able to track him down through the internet. And now you and I have reconnected. Great to hear from you and stop by anytime.

      And for all of the Gym Junkies readers, I’ll let you know that Rich used to BEAT MY ASS back in the day in Tae Kwon Do class. Ahh yes, the good ol’ days. :)

  25. Hey Vic, one more myth…Bigger muscles mean stronger muscles. Maybe it’s a cliche but ‘size doesn’t matter!’ At least not when it comes to strength and power. I wish people understood that training for strength and training for size (hypertrophy) are quite different.

    • Does it stunt your growth? Well, not that I’ve seen. But then, I’ve never really trained any youngsters on lifting weights. But weight is weight. If you start with your body weight, let’s say a push up, and that becomes easy – the load of body weight only is no longer producing a desirable training effect – then adding weight to increase the difficulty (whether through use of a weight vest or switching to the bench press) should be fine regardless of age. I don’t know where this myth came from. But then to be honest, I don’t have any personal experience to refute it. But I smell B.S. :)

  26. this website gives me the best strategies in working out and i love it ! but i have one question. if you work out at a young age will that stop your average growth rate?

  27. Vic:

    Love the site — not sure if this question falls into the myth category, but all the “he-men” in my gym use weight belts when they squat (actually when the do anything). Do you recommend using them? Do they help prevent injury (or provide any other benefit)?

    Thanks…

  28. I’m not a trainer. However, I grew up on a farm, working hard. At 18 I could lift a railroad tie and put it in a post hole without letting it touch my body (fresh creosote is VERY caustic). I would handle about 10,000 40# bales of straw in 3 weeks during the summer. Not to mention all the other stuff we did. At a little over 6′, I’m 4 inches taller than my dad. I don’t think lifting weights stunts your growth. (or maybe I should have stayed home and ended up 6’4″ like I wanted…)

  29. There is one small problem with #10. While it is not true for 99% of women, those genetically gifted few aren’t helping. Did you happen to watch the Olympics? MOST of the weight lifters were pretty bulky except for one Canadian athlete. Moreover, Crossfit ladies, with their constant flexing would turn me off from anything that wasn’t light and neon-colored if I were a woman.

    Am I supposed to be attracted to this?
    http://www.crossfit.com/mt-archive2/EvaClaire2009CrashBS.html

    Are you sure this is a woman?
    http://www.crossfit.com/mt-archive2/oakland.html

    There are really several pictures of lean good-looking women but the first time I ever visited Crossfit I saw pictures like those.

    • OK, so the first link didn’t work for me. . .

      The second link. . . forearms like that do not turn me on. I’m the first to admit. Not my thing. I mean, we all have our kink, but that ain’t mine.

      But like you said for 99% of women, resistance training will not make them bulky.

      I’ve been to CrossFit Level I Certification. I agree with much of the CrossFit protocol. Bottom line is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And where large defined forearms in a woman make me less than attracted, another guy (or girl as the case may be) may be struck with love, lust, or infatuation.

      Let’s forget the aesthetics and attraction factors for a moment. Bone density, muscle mass, and just the ability to move shit around when you want are worthy reasons for strength training. Don’t duck because a few have genetics that may not be “attractive” to some percentage of the public. Resistance training is good for overall health – undeniably so.

  30. Hi Vic,

    love your 10 myths busted, totally agree and love the way you put it. I would be interested in what your approach would be for toning a female upper body. I am 5’6″ and 122lbs. I am a martial artist (kenpo karate) and my legs are super strong but my arms are just not there and I feel the disadvantage in sparring. My kicks are great but when it comes to punching range, not that good. I would like to see more definition in my arms and more punching power.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  31. Hey Vic,

    This is a great post!! Especially the long slow cardio being a waste of time, its more entertaining to do a shorter more intense session and plus hopefully it burns more fat, I’m beginning to like the “overexertion” feeling of getting exhausted through intense cardio. Also Looking fit = being fit is also SUCH a freakin myth..LOL

  32. Talking about these things seem unbelievable until you actually experience it yourself. Several years of seeing and experiencing these myths proven wrong, I would also agree with you on all 10 points… Myths Busted!

  33. I’d love to see you bust the myth that low-weight high-rep sets will get you lean and cut and high-weight low-rep sets will make you big and bulky.

  34. great article, thanks for posting

    what about *build 30 pound of muscle and lose 40 pound of fat at the same time* myth. oh and get great abs in 7 minute a day/3 days a week.

  35. These are awesome, I have clients or people that ask me aboout these all the time and I give them the same answers.

  36. ive been doing about three 5 mile runs a week in an effort to lose weight but it doesn’t seem to be working. your post just confirms it.

    my thinking was always that going for longer sessions meant that i would burn off the quick-release energy and then the low-release energy or the fat would then burn off. if i ran as fast as i could for as long as i could does this not build up muscle?

  37. You hit it right on the head when you said that “there is no best program for building muscle”. A lot of guys think that there is some magical workout routine or nutrition program that will help anybody build muscle. It just doesn’t work that way. Based on my experiences, the muscle building process is a completely individual process based almost entirely around the experience level and preferences of the person. What works for one will not always work for others – that’s why variety in training and strategy is so important!

  38. My favorite is #6. If you want to build a better body with less injuries use free weights! When I first started working out I used machines only as I thought they were safer. As the years went by I was educated on how free weights will build you a stronger body and so I slowly began my transformation into free weights. I now do almost strictly free weights. Free weights allow your body to work out a group of muscles along with stabilizer muscles at one time. This allows for faster workouts and better results. It also has reduced many of my nagging injuries as most of my injuries came from unbalanced muscle growth. Also I have better abs today from doing squats and dead lifts 2 times a week than I ever had when I was doing the crunch machine ever day!

  39. Other Myths

    You have to workout every day to get in shape.
    Optimum would be between 3-5 days a week depending on your workout schedule.

    The longer the workout the better.
    Optimum workout length is 1 hr. Anything longer may actually be more of a setback.

    It’s just too bad that people don’t follow the good advice and always seem to follow the wrong info.

  40. Ok so the running myth.

    Yes run, move, walk any type of movement is better than none at all.

    To put the myth in terms that people could relate to….. here is one example

    When you drive your car for any length of long trip staying at an average speed “cruise control ” you will use fuel more effectively. Same with calories they are your bodies fuel.

    Step on the gas full throttle, I mean pass every car in you path then let off because there is a speed trap up ahead. Repeat till the trip is over.

    You will find that when driving your car with the latter you will need more fill ups in you tanks at the gas station. Same with your body.

    My suggestion for my body and my body only….

    Walk 1 minute jog 2 Sprint 1 walk 1 repeat.
    Your body will tell you when to walk.

    What is walking, jogging, running, and sprinting here is an example.

    Walking = you can sing your favorite song out loud.
    Jogging = same as walking

    Running = you now you missed those words that you always miss.

    Sprinting = words? There are words in that song? I thought I hit mute in my brain the last 30 seconds.

    Walk run Sprint repeat. I personally go by time not distance for my goal and track the total distance.

    WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

  41. For the love of God, can you please put to rest the stupid “If you eat before bed you’ll gain weight” myth!

  42. Number 3 isn’t a myth per se. It’s a physics/biochemistry problem and has been proven that ultimately, a caloric deficiet will force you to lose weight (fat and yes, muscle–at different ratios). Given a constant time (the rule people generally constrain themselves by on a treadmill) the more calories you can expend, the more weight you’ll lose (preferably fat).

    Sprinting does require more energy and you *can* increase efficiency burning fat doing intervals–for sure–but that is also not the solution for everyone, sometimes it’s less efficient. For some, sprinting will cause them to tire too quickly and in the big scheme of things, use less energy than they would have by just increasing their base rate, it will however improve cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscle stamina long term (which is good and helps in the big picture). The trick though is to simply push yourself. Increase time, increase speed, increase incline as much as you can handle so you’re worn out by the end of the time yoi set aside to workout. Try optimizating each variable and compare energy expenditure (based on time or when you tire too much) to see which approach works best for you. For me, intervals do work go but so does adjusting incline or simply going at a high incline at a fairly fast pace for a long time. Sometimes, my legs (squats anyone?) or lungs (allergy issues) aren’t up for sprinting and I can still burn 1200 kcal of energy easily with this route. Sure, if you can somehow sprint that entire 1-2 hours you may burn 1800-2200 but that’s insane for one cardio session.

    • Justin,

      You bring up some good points… Thank for you comment. I agree it’s not the solution for everyone to sprint, but if you’re at an average athletic level I do think it’s more effective than steady cardio. I also agreed if switching up incline/pace is another effective way to get results.

      Thanks
      Terry

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