Pet Peeves and Misconceptions, Part 1

When I first entered the health and fitness industry 20 years ago there were pet peeves and misconceptions but they were more of the gym etiquette variety--things like using the power rack for curls, putting a towel on a piece of equipment to 'hold it' while doing something else, or men wearing spandex pants and tank tops while working out.

Nowadays, there are newer, far more insidious pet peeves and misconceptions that do far more damage than simply irritating other gym users.

Pet Peeve #1

Those that kneel at the altar of "the fat burning zone." Do these people who spend hours every week on the elliptical machine or the stairmaster realize the misinformation on "the fat burning zone" was created over 30 years ago? Study after study has proven that interval training is a far more effective modality for changing body composition than the old, "Fit or Fat" strategy that Covert Bailey prescribed back in 1978.

Pet Peeve #2

People with fat loss goals who don't keep a diet journal. This is literally the simplest step one can take that has proven to be incredibly effective. Write down what you eat and drink and when. Studies have shown that people who keep a diet journal lose twice as much weight as those who don't. source: http://www.ajpm-online.net/article/S0749-3797(08)00374-7/abstract

Pet Peeve #3

Anyone who says their program creates "long muscles". Physiologically impossible. Muscles don't get "longer" or "shorter", they just get bigger or smaller. The length of your muscle bellies is fixed in your DNA. You know what really makes the "long muscle" look? Genetics and a low level of bodyfat. If you don't have long limbs and low bodyfat, you simply aren't going to look like a ballerina. You will look fit and strong and vital and lean but whether or not someone thinks you have long muscles is entirely dependent on your genetics. You know how not to get "long muscles" even if you have the body structure to achieve such a look? Train with light weights and high reps. This pet peeve is closely related to the oft-used saying by the ignorant, "weight training will make you musclebound."

Misconception #1

Mistaking a great workout for a great program. Just about anyone with a modicum of experience in the gym can put a neophyte through a workout that kicks their butt. The problem is, feeling dead tired after a workout and sore to the point of not being able to get out bed the next day is a poor indicator of whether or not the trainer can truly help you reach your long-term goals. Why is the trainer doing what he or she is doing? How does it relate back to your fitness goals? How is progress measured? What is the progression plan and is the program properly periodized? Has your trainer properly assessed your basic movement patterns and mobility? There is a lot more to a successful program than feeling like you need to drag yourself home. Don't fall for the hype, feel isn't always real.

Misconception #2

Relying on thirst to satisfy hydration needs.
Relying on thirst to satisfy your body's needs for water is a great way to stay alive but a poor way to meet optimal hydration levels. Drinking more water is always one of the first things I instruct my clients to do. If one is active, up to 3-4 litres a day or more might be required to maintain optimal hydration levels. Metabolism is optimal when hydration is optimal. It's amazing how many clients notice increased perspiration once they start to meet their body's true hydration needs. Others notice reduced hunger or reduced cravings. It is simply amazing how something as simple as drinking more water "turns on a switch" and improves how the body functions.

Comments

  1. Hey Craig,
    Love the "misconception": Mistaking a great workout for a great program! It used to drive me crazy when I worked at a big commercial gym chain, watching some trainers just kill their clients doing the most obscure exercises, without any structured program to follow, without taking notes, and without any other measurement of progress. Just couldn't understand the point of progression and periodization of a routine.

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