Fitness Myths. They are part of our world. From stretching to protein consumption, and even “the earth is flat”, fitness myths can consume our day when we are trying to achieve a goal, ultimately deterring our success.
Here’s the deal.
It’s our job as experts to give you the best, and most recent findings in the industry. With that, it also comes debunking some myths that even us as coaches believed but had to come to terms with the fact that what we heard has been proven wrong or changed over time.
Let’s get to it and break down 3 common fitness myths you need to know.
Fitness Myth #1: Stretching prevents injury
I’m assuming most of us went through school at some point in our lives. Do you guys remember in gym class when they would make you line up and do stretches? Cross your legs, bend over and touch your toes? Or how about the “Sit and Reach” test.
The bottom line is at some point you were told to stretch by someone.
Why they told us to stretch:
- Prevents injury
- Reduces soreness
- Increase performance
What do we think and know now?
There is not enough evidence to support that stretching reduces the risk of injury. Period.
What has been proven is that stretching will increase the range of motion.
There has been shown to be a slight decrease in performance when it comes to power output in certain movements after static stretching for over 60 seconds but if you follow that up with some sort of dynamic stretching it usually cancels out the effects.
Can stretching increase performance?
First, we would have to define what performance is.
Is performance lifting heavier? Throwing farther? Doing a split?
What has been found is stretching has been shown to have a positive effect for athletes whose sport involved longer muscle lengths that require more range of motion and increase power output in that greater range of motion.
Athletes that would fall under this category would be Olympic lifters and gymnasts.
There is actually a slightly larger risk for injury in those with hypermobility (or someone who’s extremely flexible. The reason being is since they have far greater ranges of motion, they have more to control which is more area for injury to occur.
Here’s my take:
If stretching makes you feel good and you enjoy it, stretch until the sun comes up. I like when people do things that make them feel good. But If you are stretching because you think it’s preventing the risk of injury or reducing soreness you are incorrect.
In terms of warming up using dynamic stretches for barbell movements, I think for the most part it’s a waste of time. Instead of doing all the stretches and then getting under a barbell you could save time just getting under the barbell and squatting a bare barbell.
If it’s getting warmed up for sprinting go ahead and get blood flow however you need to following movement patterns specific to what you are doing.
I wouldn’t just go “hey let’s go cold into a max effort 100m sprint”. Just like I wouldn’t put 405 on the bar and squat it without a proper warm-up.
I just wouldn’t be caught stretching prior to either of those exercises.
My secret solution:
If you want to improve your “mobility” in a movement and also get strong is to simply do the movement MORE!
There is no shock there.
Most of the time people who want to increase their range of motion just have to do the movement more and more. If you also are looking to warm up while also getting stronger add in a tempo to the movement.
Back squat with a 3-0-3 tempo (3 counts down + 3 counts up) I guarantee you will not only get warm, but you will improve in the ROM for the squat over time.
When do I think mobility drills benefit an athlete?
I personally would use mobility drills for Olympic lifters. Mobility drills will allow for short term increases of ROM which can be helpful for someone doing the Olympic lifts. This will help get them into a better position.
Article on stretching: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030776
Fitness Myth #2: You can “Tone” your muscles.
I’ve heard this more with the female clients I’ve trained over the years and it usually always happens during our consult.
I will ask “What are your goals?”
The usual response: “I want to tone my muscles”.
I try to nip it in the bud as fast as possible by saying that your muscles are already “Toned” and that muscle is just muscle. This may be one of the most frequent fitness myths that I come accross.
There is no such thing as lean muscle or fat muscle. You cannot see your muscles because there is this thing called fat that is covering it.
The main goal is to lose fat! We actually all have six-pack abs, they are just hidden by some lovely adipose tissue.
The follow-up question I get a lot is “Can we lose fat and build muscle at the same time?”
And to that, I say that we have a video on HERE.
To sum it up, it is possible but it’s very difficult to do if you don’t fit certain criteria.
The best candidate for someone who wants to build muscle and lose fat at the same time would be an undertrained (or new lifter) who has a lot of fat to lose.
For someone who is already quite lean and wants to get strong while losing that this is a very challenging task. We usually recommend to get stronger they need to be a caloric surplus, and when they want to cut be in some sort of deficit.
If you want to get strong, avoid giving into these fitness myths. You cant fear getting in those calories!
Fitness Myth 3: You need to consume protein post-workout or you will lose your gains!
I remember being young and hearing that you have approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour after your training session to get nutrients into the muscle (namely protein) or else your muscles wouldn’t grow to their full potential.
These 60 minutes was referred to as “The Anabolic Window”.
Being young I didn’t want to take any chance not to look like Arnold (who at the time I thought was natural and if I worked hard enough, I would look like him too, oh to be a kid again). Here’s our guide to supplements that are worth taking.
The thought process behind this was that since training is causing micro-tears in the muscle getting nutrients in as fast as possible would push them into the muscles while they are torn up to start the recovery process.
However, with more recent research we have found that it’s not so much about getting the nutrients in post-workout during that window, but more important to just get the required protein in by the end of the day.
So, don’t sweat it if you don’t get a meal in immediately post-workout.
The gains will still come, and all in the universe will be okay. It has also been shown that after training protein synthesis is elevated 48 hours post-workout.
Article more on this topic here: