Top 10 Gym Myths and Misconceptions That Never Die

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You’ve probably hear each of these fitness and nutrition myths and misconceptions a thousand times. They’ve been around since the beginning of time – or at least the beginning of the bodybuilding era.

Each of these trickles through the gym community by word of mouth. Unfortunately, they lack truth. These urban myths have circulated benches and curling racks for decades.

Whatever the reason people hold on to these fitness myths, the fact remains that they are misguided. Every time we hear them we shrug our heads in disbelief.

Try to explain to the person spreading this “belief” that their argument is lacking both scientific substantiation and pure common sense. They refuse to believe that the information backing these myths is unfounded.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions.

10 Nutrition and Fitness Myths and Misconceptions That Need to Die

#1 – I don’t want to get too big

Huge BodybuilderThis phrase is repeated by both men and women alike.

Somehow, the belief began to spread that lifting may “make you Hulk big.” Now there is no doubt that over a prolonged period of time muscle mass accumulation will give you the illusion of having a larger, more muscular physique. However, when people say things like, “I lifted for two weeks and got way too big,” it simply sounds illogical.

The fact that someone believes they can get too “big” in such a small time frame is simply ridiculous. If this were the case people everywhere would be huge. Gaining muscle mass does not come this easy.

Generally, if you dig deeper with the folks that are afraid of getting too big you’ll discover other fears at play. More commonly the person was either eating higher than maintenance causing them to gain weight rapidly, or the weight gain was a figment of their imagination.

Muscle simply cannot be added rapidly in such a short time span.

#2 – I eat “healthy” but can’t lose weight

When you ask someone what they are referring to by “eating healthy,” they will provide you some run-of-the-mill answer such as “I eat mostly chicken and vegetables,” “I eat oatmeal for breakfast daily,” or “I only eat almonds for snacks.” While some of these statements are not necessarily wrong in context, if you dive further into conversation you will discover other factors at play.

If you question the person about how many calories they consume on a daily basis, 95% of the time they will have no clue whatsoever. You go on to explain that overall weight loss and weight gain are strictly affected by a caloric surplus or caloric deficit. However, by this point in time people are either turned off by the idea of counting calories or have lost all interest in the conversation.

Try to emphasize the point to others that the main reason why people gain or lose weight is the number of calories consumed versus expended. Caloric consumption and physical activity will determine overall daily caloric intake needs.

#3 – I don’t have the time to go to the gym, I want a life outside of the gym

This is simply not the case by any standard or stretch of the imagination. I don’t care if you are Donald Trump or some bum soliciting on the street corner, every single person on this planet can make sufficient time for the gym. There is simply no excuse why any person is unable to make it to the gym at least 3 times per week.

High powered executives, CEO’s, and even the President of the United States can make time to get a solid workout in. So can you.

If this means waking up at 5:00am instead of 6:00am during the week TOUGH. You can handle it! If you can’t make the commitment to yourself, you really do not want the results badly enough.

Couch Potato

There is simply no excuse why any person is unable to make it to the gym at least 3 times per week.

#4 – I don’t eat carbs at night

There is some preconceived notion that eating carbohydrates at night will cause them to be stored as fat. We know this is simply not the case. Excess carbohydrates are stored within our glycogen stores for future usage.

There are no known advantages or disadvantages to avoiding carbohydrate intake at night. Overall caloric and macronutrient intake are the most important factors while dieting.

#5 – I can’t miss the anabolic window

Bodybuilders in the early days adhered to the longstanding myth that a 30 minute anabolic window exists. It was believed that after training fast absorbing protein must be consumed or muscle gains will forever be lost.

Recent scientific studies have shown the anabolic window actually lasts much longer than originally thought. Some say the anabolic window is activated for 90 minutes post-workout and others say the anabolic window may even be open for several days after training.

Consuming protein post-workout is not inherently wrong, but there is no rush to choke down that scoop of protein with warm gym water 20 seconds after your last set.

#6 – Cardio will burn muscle gains

TreadmillSome people refuse to perform cardio for whatever reason. One of the most commonly cited reason for cardio avoidance is the belief that doing it post-workout will kill gains and cause muscle atrophy.

Excessive cardio and a high calore deficit could possibly cause muscle loss, but this is only in circumstances in which cardio is exceedingly high. Brief steady state cardio for 15-20 minutes a couple times per week or occasional HIIT cardio will not cause muscle atrophy.

There are several cardiovascular health benefits that you can receive from regular cardio. Or, if you prefer you can simply just lift the weights faster with supersets.

#7 – Fasted cardio is more beneficial than non-fasted cardio

There is a common misconception that fasted cardio provides greater fat loss benefits because the body is burning fat reserves as opposed to using recently digested food. Recent findings suggest that whether or not cardio is performed in a fasted state, the fat loss is equal.

Fasted cardio is just as effective as non-fasted cardio. Perform cardio by whatever means is most convenient for you whether it be in the morning, the evening, fasted, or non-fasted.

#8 – The exercise (fill in the blank) is bad for me

Many people find excuses not to perform certain compound movements. While segments of the population should avoid some exercises, most people need to strengthen their core and improve flexibility.

If someone says they do not perform squats or deadlifts due to potential injury risks, most likely they have not taken the time to properly learn the correct movement patterns AND perform active or dynamic stretching. This is the reason why so many people do not reach parallel in squats or have an arched “snap city” back form while performing deadlifts.

Instead of straying away from these movements, the person should do the following:

  • Increase core strength: A weak core is one of the most common reason why injuries occur while performing compound weighted movements.
  • Improve flexibility: When people simply perform a squat or deadlift without proper warmups and stretching they are putting their bodies at risk. Joints and bones have not yet been prepared for the movement. Once flexibility is focused upon instead of the weight on the bar injuries will no longer be a major concern.
  • Learn the proper movement pattern: If improper movement is practiced from the beginning, it will cause muscle imbalances and injuries. Perfect the form early on in your training career. This will ensure you avoid setbacks that inevitably will occur later on from improper form.

#9 – I workout so I can eat whatever I want

This phrase is used by people who are trying to justify eating like crap. After performing a 15 minute session on the elliptical and burning an exhausting 95 calories, they are attempting to justify the devouring of two double-double cheeseburgers… because they “worked out.”

Not only does this irrational logic make zero sense, it’s also the reason why people do not see the results they want.

Diet is more important than the workout itself and should be treated as such. If your diet is crap don’t expect to look like a shredded physique model.

#10 – I do high reps because I’m cutting

Another myth that has perpetuated itself over the last several decades is the notion that higher rep sets should be strictly used when cutting and lower rep sets should be used for gaining mass. This is the wrong.

Periodization should be practiced year-round.

When cutting weight the workout itself should not be one of the main variables changed. The main variable causing weight loss will be a steady caloric deficit allowing weight loss at a steady pace over time.

The same holds true for gaining weight. Consume a slight caloric surplus to achieve lean mass gains not fat.

Death to These Fitness and Nutrition Myths!

Many of these beliefs can be found in nearly every bench, squat rack, and Smith machine Worldwide. They are unlikely to disappear any time soon.

As long as people choose to be uninformed these ideas will perpetuate being passed on from generation to generation, bro to bro. It is our duty as knowledgeable gym-goers and health aficionados to pass on sound, logical advice based on scientific reasoning.

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Name: Ryan Rodal

Bio: My short term fitness goals include reaching a 300lb bench, 405 lb squat and a 500 lb deadlift. Longterm I want to become more involved in the fitness industry and help others achieve their goals. The bodybuilding lifestyle is not about how much you can lift or even how you look, its simply about being the best version of yourself.