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Let’s get PHYSICAL

by Archives February 16, 2005

Every gym’s got at least one: the hulking, muscle-bound he-man who looks, and talks, like he wrote the book on muscle. He’s been lifting since the eighth grade, was the star quarterback in high school, and damn he’s ripped. But that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. Start tuning him out NOW.

The gym is often a hotbed of misinformation. Myths and misconceptions endure because we’re too shy to question these self-proclaimed “experts”, and so we take what they preach verbatim. If you’re serious about training, you’ve got to learn to separate fact from fiction. Here’s a jump-start on dispelling the most common fitness myths:

MYTH #1- On the spot

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could crunch your way to a flatter stomach or squat away those saddlebags? Unfortunately it’s just not possible to “spot reduce” (burn off fat in one specific body part), simply by exercising that area. Only regular exercise -both aerobic and strength training -and a healthy diet will help you slim down and shed pounds. So focus on the big picture rather than your one or two “problem areas”.

MYTH #2- More protein = more muscle

True — to a point. But before you down that next shake, consider this: while protein does promote the muscle-building process (protein synthesis) it’s not required in large amounts. Even if you’re training hard, ingesting more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein is broken down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into fat and stored.

MYTH #3- Arnold Schwarzenegg-HER

This one’s aimed at the ladies and specifically, their fear of bulking up. If you’ve been avoiding the weight room because you don’t want the look of hulking, herculean muscles, listen up! Women generally don’t have the genes, nor the testosterone levels, to develop massive muscles. The ripped chicks you see in muscle mags are the product of steroids and strict diets, not the occasional lifting session.

MYTH #4- Reverting from fab to flab

The belief that muscle turns to fat if you quit lifting is perhaps the most widespread myth of all. It’s also the most ludicrous.

Muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so its physiologically impossible for one to “turn into” the other. Muscles may, however, lose tone if you stray from your regimen for too long, resulting in a flabby feeling where you used to be tight. Your diet must also be adjusted according to your level of activity, or the excess calories will start to soften you up as well.MYTH #5- License to fill…UP

The principle of calories in vs. calories out still applies to even the most dedicated gym-rat. Obviously if you’re lifting heavy and training intensely, you’ll need to fuel up to build and maintain muscle mass, but it’s not carte-blanche to binge. Tailor your diet to meet your caloric needs — it’s all about balance, baby!

When working out, it’s in your best interest to follow only the advice of certified professionals, and even then to remain a bit skeptical. If it sounds too far out or too good to be true, it probably is. So keep your headphones on and the music cranked, and tune out the fitness fiction!

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