The funny thing about the fitness industry is that there’s a lot of information that’s held as gospel, even though there’s not really a lot of validity behind the information or questioning about where it came from. The typical logic with some of the tennets is that they make sense, so therefore it must be true.
Aside from being one of the longest titles of any blog post I’ve ever done, this post is all about showing some of the commonly accepted things we all do involving health and fitness, and I’ll also give you some key ways to overcome these stumbling blocks that entrap almost everyone else in the world of fitness. Get ready to have your mind blown.
#1: Static Stretching is Pretty Useless
I’ll be honest, I’ve prescribed every type of stretching to clients with almost every type of program, injury, or goalset, and found no difference in progress or results between those who spend time stretching and those who kick it to the curb and say they had other things to do on a Saturday evening. Even a lot of the research doesn’t back up the act of static stretching as being at all beneficial for developing muscle length, reducing muscle soreness, or enhancing performance in any way shape or form.
If a muscle is tight, it’s usually tight for a reason. Stretching it typically doesn’t address that reason, therefore the muscle tends to re-tense itself and return to it’s normal pattern. This is why people tend to constantly stretch out the exact same area without seeing any change. It packs all the functional use as Kim Kardashian in normal society, but for some reason, much like her, people still gravitate towards it.
#2: Five Fingers Aren’t the End-all Be-all
I’ve worn Five Fingers, both in the gym and for running, and found they help me to run slower and with considerable more ankle, foot, hip and back pain during and following the runs, which is also very common with a lot of people who take up barefoot running (not everyone, mind you, but quite a few people). The weights I was lifting wasn’t any greater than in basic lifting shoes and Chuck Taylors.
The premise of barefoot running is that common shoes remove the all-important proprioceptive feedback that results in minute muscle and joint alterations that help to keep the feet and legs healthier and performing better. The book Born To Run kind of kicked off the barefoot trend, discussing how tribes in central America ran entirely in barefoot and could pretty much whup anyone at will.
The downside is that most of western society is performed on perfectly flat and level surfaces, with absolutely no real need for proprioception, foot alteration, or anything more advanced than cornering. I can guarantee the members of the Taramuhara tribe in Mexico weren’t running on pavement, cement or treadmills during their runs, and they also weren’t walking through their daily lives on tile, carpet, or wearing 3-inch heels to their jobs each day.
Wearing Vibrams isn’t going to make you a super athlete, especially if you use them to run on pavement, on a treadmill, or while rockin out some bicep curls on the bosu ball. They will make you shorter and put your tendons at more risk of acute and chronic inflammation from that “increased feedback” if they’re worn too long.
#3: Women should lift light weight for endurance to avoid getting bulky
The funny thing about this is that this is a great plan for a male looking to gain endurance and not get too big, but in my experience, women who lift in the 12-15 rep range with any type of intensity tend to GAIN size a lot easier than if they were to lift much heavier in the 1-5 rep range. On top of that, the type of muscle gained tends to not have the tight “toned” look a lot of people want compared to the muscle being gained by heavier lifting. And if you don’t believe me, check this out.
#4: Doctor’s Don’t Know Anything About Diets
Look at the curriculum for most medical schools, they’re readily available online so potential applicants can see what they’re in for. Most of them spend a grand total of 6-8 weeks learning about things like nutrition, exercise, and healthy living. The real facts are they spend a lot of time working on trying to keep people from dying, so their profession is not really suited to people who are healthy, functional, and looking to get better and faster results. Ask the average doctor the difference between how many carbs you should eat at 8% body fat and how many you should eat at 12% body fat and they’ll look at you like you’re trying to take a dump on their lawn while butt-ass naked.
The only exceptions to this are doctors that work specifically in endocrinology and design nutrition programs for the morbidly obese when they’re looking to keep them from dying after a gastric bypass surgery. For this reason, any time a “doctor approved” dietary plan comes out, I kind of shake my head a little. Doctors have backed Atkins, Bernstein’s, paleo, and pretty much any other kind of diet out there.
I’m not saying that a doctor wouldn’t have access to more information than anyone else or that their opinions would be any less valuable, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not their specialty.
#5: Steady-State cardio has it’s place
Here’s the funny thing regarding those people who continuously do steady state cardio for hours on the treadmill or the elliptical. They do tend to get results. Everyone and their dog will jump on them for wasting their time and working in such an inefficient zone, but the odds are they will continue to do the workouts as they are easier to do than sprints, which means they’ll increase their overall physical activity, and as a result will continue to work out for a longer time, meaning a greater weight loss over an extended time, versus a quicker weight loss and potential re-gain of the weight.
There’s also the importance of lower intensity cardio for improving oxidative capacity which can help in recovering from intense bouts of resistance training and sprinting, as well as assist in recovering from injury more effectively. Performing a walk on a low incline at 70% of heart rate reserve will be much easier for someone with a low back injury than sprinting in a zone of greater intensity than VO2 max, and will actually promote healing whereas the sprinting may cause further damage.
while short term weight loss may be greater with sprinting, long term weight loss is greatest with those who continue to exercise and who don’t feel like they’re burnt out from each workout. It’s great to sprint, but there’s also a role for low intensity cardio.
#6: You Don’t Sleep Enough
Unless you’re getting a solid 8 hours each night and routinely wake up feeling like you are kick-ass rested, not needing to power down for a nap at all until bed time, and don’t have to play “catch up” by sleeping in on Sundays, you don’t get enough rest. Some people function best on 7 hours a night, and that’s fine, as long as they don’t have any symptoms of sleep deprivation.
When trying to lose weight, gain muscle, increase overall awesomeness, rescue damsels from railroad tracks, or drop kick Jillian Michaels, sleep is incredibly important. It’s the truest form of recovery, and we all suffer as a result when we don’t get enough, be it in chronic injury, lack of productivity, or a sluggishness during our workouts.
I’ve pulled my share of late nights coupled with early mornings, which left me feeling like a bag of crushed assholes, and took about 3-4 days to regain normal function again. Some people tend to exist in deprivation, which means around 6 hours or less each night. That’s just not cutting it.
#7: A High Red Meat Intake is Not Bad
However, a high intake of low quality, hormone-fed, antibiotic-laced and almost completely unnatural type of “meat” is not healthy in any way. Real meat gives protein, iron, vitamins, testosterone-boosting qualities, and all types of sensational anabolic capabilities that will help to make you much more amazing than you currently are.
#8: Vegetarianism is just plain wrong.
There, I said it. Deal with it.
#9: Skinny isn’t admirable
Skinny is another way of saying you have difficulty performing tasks that require some form of strength greater than lifting a purse on your own. It’s an easy predictor of who will be 80 in the old-age home unable to squat to the toilet or perform basic activities of daily living.
#10: Goals Should Not Be Realistic, or Easily Attainable
Aiming low gives low priority, which means you have little reason or drive to reach it. Lofty goals make people get nervous, which means theyt have little hope of reaching them. Aiming low never gets noticed or remembered. Could you imagine what would have happened if people like Lincoln, Cesar, Da Vinci, Hemmingway, Aristotle, or any number of great people decided that their vision of a changed world was outside of their reach and therefore not something they would want to work their lives towards? Existing simply to exist and setting small goals is a wasted life, and one that should not be admired.
#11: Stop working your rotator cuff
The rotator cuff is primarily meant to be a stabilizer not a prime mover. For the most part, people don’t need to do any external rotation isolation training, they need to work on scapular stability so their rotator cuff doesn’t continuously get beaten up. The only time someone should spend dedicated time working on their rotator cuffs is if in a side lying position they can’t lift 5 pounds in a supported external rotation for 10 reps. Otherwise, lift something heavy and go for a walk to get a much better rotator cuff workout in a stabilizing role.
These aren’t in any particular order, nor are they in any semblance of sanity, which means you have the ability to refute them as you wish. Leave a comment below and let me know if there’s any other fitness truths you would like to throw under the bus along with this post.