5 Fitness Myths That Drive Me Crazy

Here are 5 Fitness Myths That Drive Me Crazy

  1. You can spot reduce fat (plays on our hopes and fears) – Pretty much every ad selling any product sends the message: the life of your dreams is only one purchase away. So many fat loss ads and exercise programs promise that if you just buy them and follow them you’ll melt away belly fat or flabby thighs. It’s nonsense. It’s simply false.
  2. You can get the body of your dreams quickly and easily (This also plays on hopes and fears) – “If you do this program, you too, can look like this sculpted model in the ad in just 30 days!” Is it possible to changes in a month? Certainly. But it’s highly unlikely that you’ll go from flabby to ripped in such a short span. And that’s not a bad thing. If a perfect body was so easily achieved, wouldn’t more people have it and truly, how impressive would it be then?
  3. There’s one true path! (Crossfit, powerlifting, pilates, yoga, bodyweight, etc.). No matter what you’ve heard, there is more than one way to get to your destination. There are people who use each of those training methods to get great results. There’s no one ideal system. The key is to find one that you will enjoy enough to do it consistently. Consistency is the common factor that will get you where you want to be. If you love Crossfit, awesome. Or yoga. Or weight training. There’s no point in doing something if you’ll always dread it. Eventually you will quit. Find something or things you like. Don’t be dogmatic.
  4. You can out-train a bad diet. I used to believe this one myself. For most of my like it kind of seemed true. The truth is you can’t out run your fork. Turns out all those 30- and 40-something people who told 20-something me “all that junk food is going to catch up with you” were right. You don’t have to eat perfectly. But, you can’t base your diet around junk and expect good results down the line.
  5. If you’re a woman, lifting heavy weights will make you big and bulky. This myth just won’t seem to die. The women bodybuilders who are big and bulky look like that because they specifically want to. Their diet, training and supplements are intentionally designed to get them that look. Testosterone and human growth hormone are primary drivers in muscle building. Women have a fraction of the amount that men do, and men have to work hard for years to put on that kind of size. So ladies, lift heavy weights!

These are just a handful of examples of the misinformation that gets repeated all the time. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Comment down below some of the fitness myths you wish would just go away!

 

 

 

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Want a useful tool you can use right away to improve your fitness results?

Want a useful tool you can use right away to improve your fitness results?

Here it is. Ready?

It’s tracking. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. You can use an app. If you’re ancient like I am, you can even use a pen and keep a journal. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it.

Either way, you need to start tracking if you’re not doing it already. You can begin with tracking only two things:

  1. Everything you eat and drink
  2. Your workouts

If you don’t keep a log of your intake and your training, you’re just wandering around guessing. It’s like getting in your car, ignoring your gps and the gas tank icon and hoping you just magically end up where you want to be.

“But it’s too much work!” Seriously, it only takes a few seconds to jot down what you eat in a snack or meal. Like any new habit, it may take a few weeks before it’s second nature. You’ll be more conscious of what you’re eating which will help you achieve your goals faster, whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle. It’s all too easy to mindlessly eat a few hundred extra calories per day if you’re not keeping score. We all tend to underestimate the amount of calories we eat and overestimate the amount we burn.

The importance isn’t in the daily tally but the trend. Pay attention to what’s happening over weeks. Are you losing weight consistently and according to plan? Awesome. Keep it up! If you’re not progressing toward your goal, now you can analyze and figure out and adjust. Making adjustments is the key.

You start with a plan of how many calories you want to eat per day or maybe per week. The plan is just a preliminary idea. Keeping track of your meals and drinks (there are often tons of “hidden” calories in drinks!) is how you measure adherence.

Adherence is just how closely you stick to your plan. If you eat however much you want and just hope you achieve your goal, that’s not even a plan, is it? More importantly, do you honestly think it’s going to work for you?

Adherence is accountability. You have to first stick to the plan to determine if the plan is working. If it is working, keep it up. When it’s not moving you toward your goal, now it’s time to make adjustments. Start small and keep track. There’s no need to make a drastic change, just a small correction will get you back on target.

In fact, at first you should only make one small change. That’s it. You don’t have to change everything. Trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming. If you aim to fix ten things over the course of the week and you only hit on three, how would you feel? Making sweeping changes like that is especially hard to sustain, and when you don’t hit on all of them, you may feel like you’ve failed. Instead, implement one small change. If you normally drink soda, switch to diet. It’s not perfect, it’s a step in the right direction. It sets you up for success. Once you mastered that you can add on another change. Replace the diet soda with water flavored with a twist. Stack small successes but start with one.

If you’re not the pen and paper type, that’s cool. There are plenty of apps you can use. For instance, there’s this one and another one available for free.

What about tracking your training?

Using a training journal goes hand in hand with tracking your calorie intake to help you attain your fitness goal.

Ever start a workout thinking, “I’ll just do what I did last time. Wait, what’d I do last time?” Now you won’t have to. You’ll know exactly where you should start.

Write or use your app to enter the exercises, the number of sets, the number of repetitions, and the amount of weight you use. Doing the same exact workout with the same exact sets, reps and weights isn’t going to get you where you want to be. In order to get the body you want, over time the volume will have to gradually increase. In other words, in order to make progress, you’ll need to make progress. As the saying goes, it’s not easy but it’s simple.

You’ll be able to see very plainly the proof that your plan is working. Not to mention there’s a confidence boost in seeing your stats increase over the weeks and months. (Plus, you won’t have to actually remember last session’s numbers. You’ll have more time to remember the important stuff in life.)

When you do eventually stall on a particular lift you can implement a small adjustment to get things going in the right direction again. Minor changes are all you need. If you change 5 things, how can you tell which is the one that got you the benefit, right? Adjust only enough to keep you progressing.

Tracking your food and workouts only takes a couple minutes total per day and it’s only going to help you achieve your goals sooner.

Start keeping track of your training numbers and your food intake today!

Thanks for reading, leave a comment or question below!

5 Things Arnold Schwarzenegger Taught Me About Fitness

Here are five things I learned from Arnold that have improved my training. Read below and see how he can help you!

  1. “Come with me if you want to live.”

Find mentors, whether they’re human, cyborg or even online. If you find a cyborg one, please let me know.

2. “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

Big goals can be daunting. Don’t ever be intimidated. It can be done. Make a plan and get to work. The “get to work” part is the key.

3. No more whining.

Whining is a waste of time. Do you like whiners? Exactly. So don’t be one. Stay focused and put in work. Results take time.

4. “It’s not a tumor!”

Some days you will feel a little beat up. It’s not an excuse to skip. As your training progress, you’ll learn the difference between sore or run down and injured. If you’re injured, don’t be dumb, go get it checked out.

5. “See you at the party, Richter!”

Enjoy life. Being fit should add to your life, not be your life. If you’re missing out on good times with family and friends, you’re doing it wrong. 

And for fun, here are a couple bonus lessons from Arnold.

6. “What is best in life?”

This is my pre-workout right here, you can keep that neon powder in your shaker bottle. 

7. I hope you never know this anguish.

When you’ve got your heart set on treats for cheat day, this is the worst.

 

Hit reply and leave a comment below!

Highlight Film!

It’s so easy to get discouraged.

I fight it daily.

Progress just doesn’t happen as fast as we want it to.

It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have and what we think others do. It’s hard to discern any change day to day. The scale is basically the same. The mirror too. And the weights and reps seem to go up at a glacial pace. (For those of you reading in the future: glaciers are giant blocks of ice that used to cover the North and South Poles)

The people who post videos, pictures or articles about fitness tend to be in great shape. I’m certainly not knocking them for that. Clearly they’ve worked hard for a long time.

It’s imperative to remember that when we see them, what we’re seeing is essentially their highlight film. They’ve worked for years to get in that shape. They designed their diet and training to peak at the time of the shoot. The lighting, angles and editing are perfect. They look great.

When we see ourselves in the mirror, it’s just not the same. It’s a regular day, most likely. The overhead lighting in your bathroom isn’t ideal as you search for any signs of improvement in the mirror. We note our own highlight film, but it’s easy for those moments to get lost in the abundance of every day normalcy.

This isn’t about hating on the fitness models. Hating on people is a waste of time. It’s just complaining. It doesn’t make them worse. More importantly, it doesn’t make you any better.

I just refocus on myself and my goals. Day to day progress is minimal. Obviously, you want to track the changes at regular intervals to make sure the trend is moving in the right direction.

When it feels like I’ve been stuck at the same amount of weight for the same number of reps for a particular lift, it’s challenging not to feel down. Plateaus do happen. But they are temporary. If one lasts more than a couple weeks I consider changing things up. Most of the time though, the key is to just keep plugging away.

It would be awesome if we saw results immediately after each session. In fact, if you’re just starting out, you might…for a while. Eventually, your progress will start to slow down. That’s “slow down” not “stop”.

You’re still making progress, even when it’s too small to see on a daily basis.

Keep at it.

Celebrate the Little Victories

Celebrate the little victories along the way to accomplishing your goals.

Really. It’s okay.

Your goals should be big enough to truly challenge you. Big enough that you might even have moments of doubt or trepidation. Tough enough that you’ll face obstacles on your quest.

It’s precisely because it’s so difficult that I like to acknowledge the milestones along the way. Obviously, not all of them. I don’t believe in participation trophies.

In order to achieve the big goals, you have to break them down into daily actionable steps. Small steps compounded over time is how you’ll accomplish big things. If you want to run a marathon, you’ll first have to learn to run 1 mile. If you want to bench press 315 lbs., you’ll have to get to 225, right?

When you hit a new personal record on a lift, that’s a good thing. You should be proud. That doesn’t mean you have to get all full of yourself. You’re not done yet!

It’s like scoring a touchdown in a football game. Spike the ball, wave to the crowd, get some shine. Then get back to work, the game’s not over yet.

Each time you overcome a setback it means you’re stronger. Not just physically either. Your mental toughness grows also, and it’s probably more valuable. You get knocked down, you get back up and keep going, right? Every time it happens it means you are building your character.

New barriers or pitfalls will pop up. Count on it. When they do, draw on your history of overcoming. Your resilience is key, and that’s what you’re celebrating when you acknowledge the smaller victories.

Best Time to Train

What time of day do you train?

What is the “Best Time” to train? Like a lot of fitness answers, it depends. However:

The best time to train is whenever you’re going to do it consistently.

You will not see the results you want if you do not have your training, nutrition and recovery dialed in and applied persistently. Getting in great shape is certainly achievable. It takes time and effort.

Aside from that, it mostly comes down to preference.

I like to train in the morning, before I go to work. It fits my work schedule best. It fits my temperament best, too. I like starting my day this way. I’m done before 8 a.m. and already feel like I’ve won the day.

Many people prefer to schedule their training after work. This isn’t better or worse, in an objective sense, than training any other time of day. After a long day of work, going to the gym can be an effective way to decompress. There is some research indicating you may be stronger in the late afternoon, but it’s by no means conclusive.

I tried this for a little while and it didn’t work for me. The last thing I want to do after work is deal with a crowded gym. Some people feed off the energy of a room full of people like that.

Or maybe that’s the only time that fits their schedule.

If you work overnights, maybe mid-day works better.

Don’t overthink it. You know when you have a window to fit it in. Remember, you don’t have to do marathon sessions in order to make progress. We all have time for the things we deem important. We don’t prioritize things we see as irrelevant. Is being in better shape important to you?

It’s hard to break habits, so make training one. Pick a time and stick to it.

As the saying goes, you can have results or excuses but not both.

How to Set Up Your Calories & Macros

How do you know how many calories you should be eating per day?

The Short Answer (The Long Answer is below)

*I am not a health professional. Use common sense. If you have a health condition, please consult your doctor.

Estimate how many calories you need in order to remain the same weight.

In order to lose weight you will need to eat fewer calories than you burn. You can start at a 20% deficit. Take the amount of calories you need to remain the same weight and multiply it by .8 to get how many you should eat in a deficit. Monitor your weight loss and overall health, and adjust as necessary until you hit your goal.

In order to build muscle you will need to eat more calories than you burn and you will need to do resistance training. Take the calories you need to remain the same weight and multiply that by 1.2. This puts you in a 20% surplus. Monitor your weight and overall health, and adjust as necessary until you reach your goal.

The Long Answer

First, we need an estimate of your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). This is how many calories you need to eat per day to remain the same weight. The best way to do this is to accurately track your calories and weight. There are a bunch of TDEE calculators available online. Of course, none of them will be as accurate as you tracking your intake. If you don’t know for now, don’t sweat it. Most of us aren’t.

A good way to figure it out is the Katch-McArdle Equation. This estimates your Basal Metabolic Rate based on how much lean tissue you have. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body would burn if you did absolutely nothing all day long but lay on your couch. Lean Body Mass (LBM) is weight minus body fat. We take this number and apply a multiplier to account for how active you are to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM in kg)

 

LBM = weight in kg x (1 – (body fat percentage as a decimal))

Body fat percentage as a decimal may sound complicated but it isn’t. For instance, for someone who is 20% body fat, that would be expressed as .20. For someone 15%, it would be .15. There’s no way to exactly determine body fat on a living creature, so you’ll have to estimate. Don’t worry, it’s really okay. You can do this by comparing yourself to pictures. (Google is our friend!) It will be an estimate but it should be fairly accurate. There are also calculators to convert lbs. to kg, but if you want to do it yourself, just multiply your weight in lbs. by .45.

Your BMR represents about 55-75% of your TDEE. If you’re less active, it will be on the higher end. If you’re more active, it will be on the lower side.

The activity multiplier will account for this.

If you’re not very active, use 1.3. If you are very active (if your job is physically demanding, such as construction), use 1.7. If you’re in between, use 1.5.

BMR x activity multiplier = TDEE

Keep in mind that TDEE is an estimate. Tracking your weight, measuring your waist, noting how your clothes fit and how you appear in the mirror will let you know how well things are going. Track your progress and adherence and make adjustments over time. Adjusting in small increments (100 calories) will help you hone in on the right numbers for you with greater precision.

Now that we know this, I have a very important question for you:

What is your goal?

Are you trying to lose fat? Build muscle?

Losing Fat

If you’re trying to lose fat, you will need to be in a caloric deficit. That means you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you burn. Determining the size of the deficit will depend on you, how much weight you want to lose, the time frame, and your tolerance. Your deficit should never take you below your BMR. Eating below your BMR can lead to adverse health consequences. If you wanted to lose an average of a lb. per week, you would aim for a deficit of 500 calories per day. In this instance your daily calories would equal TDEE minus 500. (There are approximately 3500 calories/lb. divided by 7 days per week)

Generally speaking, the more overweight a person is, the greater the deficit he or she can tolerate. He or she may opt to drop fat faster than a rate of 1 lb./week. Remember, your deficit should never take you below your BMR.

 

Some good news about being in a deficit is that for the most part, meal frequency doesn’t matter. You can eat 2 meals a day or 12, as long as you’re hitting your calorie targets, you’re good.

Frame your deficit to be as enjoyable as you can. There is no need to starve yourself. The deficit should be just enough to keep the scale moving in the right direction at a moderate pace. If you prefer eating several times a day, do that. If 3 larger meals suits you better, do that.

Without going too far into macronutrient portions, a good guideline is to eat around .8-1g of protein per lb. of body weight. Protein will help you maintain muscle despite being in a calorie deficit. A 200 lb. person would aim for 160-200 g of protein per day. Protein yields 4 calories per gram, so that would be between 640 and 800 calories per day. This is just a guideline, so adjust as necessary to suit you.

The remainder of the daily calories should come from a combination of carbohydrates and fats that is most enjoyable and sustainable. Despite the bad press, both carbs and fats are healthy and important, so I don’t recommend going below .3 g per lb of lean mass.

You want this to be as painless as possible for adherence and sustainability.

Building Muscle

 

To gain muscle, you will need to be in a caloric surplus. You’ll eat more calories than you burn. You will gain muscle as well as fat. We all wish there was a way to just gain muscle. You want to manage the surplus so that you minimize the fat gain.

Start at about 10-20% above your TDEE and adjust from there. That means TDEE x 1.1 or TDEE x 1.2. Muscle building is a fairly slow process. A person just beginning training can gain about 2 lbs. of muscle per month. Unfortunately those more advanced in their training will gain at a slower rate. If the scale goes up by 10 lbs in a month, please understand it’s not all muscle.

Again, you will want to make sure you eat enough protein. Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle. Even though you’re in a surplus that doesn’t mean more protein equates to more muscle. Your target should be around .8-1g of protein per lb. of LBM per day.

A 150 lb. person would eat 120-150 g of protein daily (which correlates to 480-600 calories). The remainder of the calories should come from a healthy combination of carbs and fats. I recommend a higher percentage of carbs as it tends to help with resistance training.

Track your progress and adjust as you go along. I can’t say this enough. It really is the key to attaining your goals.

So there you have it.