By now, we've buried some of the worst fitness myths in existence, like: squats are bad for your knees, weights make you bulky, and Tae Bo wunderkind Billy Blanks. But, for better or worse, those ancient superstitions have slowly given way to newer, trendier myths that still limit results and even increase risk of injury. They're not as hopeless as, say, the Shake Weight, but they still perpetuate deceptive fitness "knowledge."
So, let's separate fact from fiction and break down six fitness myths that still exist in 2017.
1. Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and back arched while lifting.
What most people think is good posture really isn't. Keeping your shoulders back, chest up, and back arched might make you look muscular, but it's actually an "extended" posture that locks out your spine, limits your shoulder mobility, and overworks your back.
First, this screws up your breathing; sticking out your ribcage locks your diaphragm and forces you to inhale with your shoulders, chest, and neck. The result is a tense upper body, tight muscles, and shallow breaths—and a lot of stress.
Instead, keep your ribcage down (like after sighing loudly) while you lift—I admit it will seem weird at first, but you will emphasize the correct muscles over time.
2. High reps are better for endurance; low reps are better for strength.
Even for my fitness certification, I learned 12-plus reps improves muscular endurance while five (or fewer) reps targets strength. What I learned in the gym says otherwise.
The reality is lower reps improve both strength and endurance. With more absolute strength (i.e. your one-rep maximum), repeated, lower-intensity activities become easier by comparison, thus building endurance. Also, while both approaches improve muscle and size, low reps are far superior to boost maximal strength.
Focus on eight or fewer reps to start out—get strong first (like front squatting 1.5x your bodyweight) and then worry about doing 15 reps. In the meantime, if you want to build endurance, do it with your conditioning.
3. Weights for muscle; cardio for fat loss.
You should really say: "Weights for muscle and weights for fat loss." It doesn't matter if you're trying to gain 10 pounds or drop 10 pounds—lifting weights will improve your physique.
The key to fat loss—if you haven't heard—is your diet, not cardio. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight; if you eat fewer than you burn, you will lose weight. Cardio can certainly help you burn fat, but cardio and weights are not mutually exclusive.
You should really say: "Weights for muscle and weights for fat loss."
4. Slow cardio will make you slow.
No, it won't.
"Slow cardio" means traditional aerobic exercises like a jog or a bike ride. When done correctly, you'll target only your slow-twitch (Type I) muscle fibers and improve their aerobic capacity while strengthening your heart and boosting your recovery.
Just make sure that your "slow cardio" is really fucking slow. It's counterintuitive, I know, but as legendary strength coach Charlie Francis said, to become faster, avoid intensities between 65 percent and 95 percent of your max effort; only go below or above.
5. If your hamstrings are tight, stretch more.
At first glance, this makes sense: If your hamstrings are tight, stretch them, and they will loosen up.
Here's the issue: You didn't fix the actual problem, and those hamstrings will eventually get tight again. Usually, your hamstrings are tight because your pelvis is out of alignment; by stiffening, your hamstrings actually prevent your pelvis from getting worse (shifting too far forward, too far to the right, etc.). But if you bring your pelvis back to a neutral position—and keep it there—your hamstrings will automatically relax without a single stretch.
Try this simple breathing exercise before your workout to reposition your pelvis and get those stiff muscles to relax. (Don't worry about the balloon for now.)
6. Carbs are bad and make you fat.
You need carbs—your body turns all carbohydrates into glucose to fuel your muscles, organs, and brain. (Thyroid, testosterone, and stress balances also rely on carbs.) And while you can get carbs from veggies and fruit, if you're an active person, traditional sources like whole grains, potatoes, and rice are way easier.
Cutting carbs does help you lose weight in the short-term, but it's mostly water weight. As for the ketogenic craze going on, I'll just say this: It's up to you to decide how you want to structure your diet. If you want to go low-carb, be my guest—but understand you can live a healthy, balanced life with a baked potato.
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert and founder of groombuilder.com.
From: Esquire US