When it comes to popular health/fitness tips, I feel as though we are all just playing a big game of “2 truths and a lie”.
Yes, there is some accurate information being cycled around, but there is also a lot of BS! And these lies, or misconceptions, are only screwing up your progress!
It’s time to knock out the lies and rewire our brains so we can train and eat smarter.
Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions I’ve had clients come to me with, and the truths behind them!
Fitness Misconception #1: You should end your workout completely dead, drained, and depleted.
The truth: A workout that pushes you to your absolute furthest point of exhaustion is great— OCCASIONALLY.
A workout challenge like squats, deadlifts, and/or bench for reps, or some form of all-out high endurance training for time, is a great thing to mix in every so many weeks. Use these as a marker for where you are in regards to your fitness and to measure any strength and endurance gains.
These types of “challenge” workouts will certainly drain you; however, feeling 100% drained EVERY workout is not the answer...
...unless the question is, “Hey Maria, what’s the best way for me to NOT stick to my workout plan consistently, lose motivation, and likely injure myself??”
Your workouts should leave you feeling energized, not exhausted
^^ That doesn’t mean they should be easy. It means you should be working and resting in a way that has you failing out towards the last couple of reps on a set, and then taking adequate time between sets to recover and get the muscles/body ready to do it again.
You should be working in a way that you leave the gym feeling GOOD, energized, but not dead
...working in a way that will allow you to improve your overall performance over time, be that
1️- higher weight with proper form
2️- more reps at the same weight
3️- a harder variation of your exercises
Or 4️- same reps and same performance with less rest.
You aren’t working out “to be tired”, you’re working out “to be better”. Tiredness isn’t an indicator of a better performance in the gym or results outside of it! Take your time, take your rest, KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!
Fitness Misconception #2: more is always better
The truth: We want QUALITY over quantity!
In other words:
Less bullsh*t, more REAL work.
You don't need to do a dozen different exercises with a ton of sets every workout, you just need to keep it simple and focus on the QUALITY of your bread-and-butter exercises instead.
The truth of the matter is effective workouts aren’t sexy! They aren’t Instagram-able. They’re a limited # of common moves done in a way that pushes the targeted muscle groups to/towards failure while maintaining proper form and control.
• They have 3-4 sets of 6-8 barbell squats with a focus on form and movement pattern on leg day, NOT 8 sets of a barbell squat into box jump into burpee...or whatever other combo is ‘gram-worthy
• They have 3-4 sets of 10-12 alternating bicep curls that go for a full range of motion, not 6 sets of a curl into a raise into a press into a push-up...
• They have a handful of basic exercises done with QUALITY reps!!
If you took a look at any Olympian’s— girl or guy, bikini to bodybuilding— workout regimen leading into a show it would probably look boring and maybe a little simplistic to you but, guess what? It works.
They don’t get those crazy physiques from doing 12 different exercises and 70 sets on a training day. They build and achieve results by working hard on basic exercises and improving their performance on them week after week.
Circuits full of a bunch of movements or workouts written with a wide array of exercises aren’t going to do much besides maybe get you a decent sweat and some cardiovascular work.
Cut the bullsh*t, lower your quantity. Increase the effort and work you’re putting in, push for quality.
...again, remember: keep it simple, stupid
Fitness Misconception #3: more cardio = more weight loss
The truth: yes…but also, no.
While this statement may be true at first, it isn’t that way for long.
Because of adaptation.
Our bodies are pretty awesome. They have the ability to gather information about what’s going on outside of them and adjust accordingly to keep you alive.
So, once the body notices that you’re burning more and more calories from all the cardio you’re doing, it goes into a sort of “survival mode”.
It says, “Hey, wait, we’re losing too many calories and we need those for sustaining life. I better figure out a way to save those calories from being burnt up so I can do all the daily functions I need to.”
As a result, it ADAPTS.
It becomes more efficient at using energy throughout the day so as to not waste too many calories. As a result, you wind up burning FEWER calories than you did originally, before you adapted.
With that, weight loss plateaus and now you have to do even more cardio to re-spark that calorie burn… buttt, then, it happens again.
Adaptation -> add in more cardio -> burn more calories initially -> adaptation...
Because of the body’s ability to quickly adapt to energy expenditure, cardio is NOT the answer to losing weight long term.
It is a good tool to utilize in your fitness regimen (especially for the benefits on the heart and lungs), but should not be your primary one.
Rather, focus on resistance training and muscle growth/development to improve your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn at rest), as well as proper nutrition, to burn fat and reshape your body!
Fitness Misconception #4: eat less to lose more
The truth: Again, yes....but also, no...
Let’s break it down a little bit.
Much like with cardio adaptation, the same thing happens with eating low calories for too long.
When you aren’t giving your body enough nutrients for a prolonged period of time, it eventually says, “Hey, wait, we’re not getting enough calories and we need those for sustaining life. I better hang onto what I AM getting so I can do as many of my daily functions as possible.”
While a short-term, moderate caloric deficit can lead to sustainable weight loss, much larger deficits held long-term create less-than-ideal changes in our bodies’ metabolisms in order to keep them in homeostatic balance.
These changes, or adaptations, come in the forms of a slowed down metabolism (to conserve calories) and hormone changes.
Our active thyroid is reduced, sex hormones shut down, stress hormones (cortisol) raise up... all of which can lead to both leptin and insulin resistance— things that completely counter weight loss.
The metabolic and hormonal changes of under-eating eventually lead to stalled weight loss and body fat retention.
So, if you’re eating low carb/calorie out of fear that you’ll gain weight if you eat more food, perhaps rethink your strategy....
Fitness Misconception #5: if I’m eating healthy foods and making healthy choices, I won’t gain weight
The truth: Eating healthy and making better choices is step 1 in bettering your health, but it can still make you fat.
Just because you’re indulging in dark chocolate almonds instead of Reese’s PB cups at night doesn’t mean your body will recognize it any differently in regards to the calories it decides to store and convert to fat.
Extra calories are extra calories, and they have to go somewhere! As said in my blog post, “Why Your Healthy Eating Is Making You Fat”⤵
“People are overeating their healthy foods, and when the body is overfed, guess what it is going to do? It is going to hold onto the extra calories and store them as fat- even if the extra calories were from a sweet potato or a tablespoon of flaxseed.
Think of the body like a car and the calories/macronutrients as gasoline. If we want a car to run its best and furthest, then we need to fill the tank with gas, right? However, if we fill the car with too much gas, then it starts to overflow or spill out- the car can only hold so much gas. Same with our bodies. In order for it to run efficiently, we need to be feeding it appropriately, but it also has a max limit for how much ‘gas’ we can put in, and once we put too much in, it will “spill out” in its own way-- by storing the excess as fat.”
It all comes down to calories in vs calories out.
If you’re taking too many calories in, whether they’re from healthy foods, greasy foods, or sweet foods, you’re going to gain weight.
Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet, boys and girls! Sniff out those lies.