I can’t believe the crazy stuff I hear when I’m walking around gyms.
Then again, why do I spend my free time walking around gyms?
Well, I’m kinda sad like that.
But that’s no excuse for the bulls**t I hear from “gym bros” on a daily basis.
Many of these beliefs have long been debunked, thanks to the forward strides made by sports science in the last few decades, but tons of people continue to fall for them.
After reading this post, you won’t be one of them.
So today I invite you to join me in “SMDH”-ing all over the place, as we break down my 5 most popular fitness myths.
Feel free to add your own recommendations for the sequel in the comments section.
1. Do Cardio To Lose Weight, And Lift Weights To Build Muscle…
“I’m just starting out.
Should I do cardio in the first few months to lose weight, then start lifting weights to tone up?”
No. You should not.
Cardio will help you lose weight, of course, and it’s something I wish more people at the gym would do.
But you don’t need to delay lifting weights.
In fact, it will only help you get further, faster. So I recommend combining both from the very beginning. (1)
2. Eat Small Frequent Meals To Speed Up Your Metabolism
This fitness myth has somehow survived for decades despite being unbelievably wrong.
It’s so well versed in fitness folklore, I actually remember being taught it on a fitness course many, many years ago.
So I’ll be the one to say it…
Eating small frequent meals does NOT speed up your metabolism.
Also, it does NOT “keep the fire burning.” And while we’re at it, your metabolism is NOT “like a fire which needs to be stoked throughout the day”.
But with advice like this below from “experts”, who can blame people for being lost AF?
So let’s debunk this once and for all…
A 2013 study from the University of Colorado clearly demonstrated that increasing meal frequency from 3 meals to 6 meals had zero effect on both metabolism and the amount of body fat burned. (2)
In fact, during this trial the group who ate smaller, more frequent meals reported an increase in hunger and a desire to over-eat!
When it comes to your nutrition plan, just structure your meals so they fit around your day.
Everyone is different.
This approach will lead to greater sustainability, and that’s the real key to results.
3. Eating Clean
“Clean eating” has to be my favorite nonsense buzz-phrase of the last twenty years.
We all have a pal who’s recently started “eating clean” and wants to frown at everything on your plate. But despite the fact they like to act all superior, this style of dieting is outdated to f**k.
I have two problems with clean eating.
The first is that it encourages us to put foods into categories of “good” and “bad” (or “clean” and “dirty”)… which makes us want all the bad things… which creates an unhealthy relationship with food.
Your diet is a numbers game, and studies clearly show that the two most important factors in muscle growth and fat loss are calories and protein. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
No single food can inherently make you gain weight.
So rather than eating from a boring list of so-called “clean” foods, focus on hitting your numbers and you’ll be fine.
Which brings us to the second problem.
What the f**k does “clean eating” mean?
As Layne Norton explains, something defined as clean to a bodybuilder would be called dirty by a vegetarian. And a food deemed clean by vegetarian standards would be dirty to a vegan. And so on.
It means nothing.
It just encourages us to believe we must live on the same meals (chicken & rice) for the rest of our lives.
And by “the rest of our lives”, I mean Monday to Friday.
Cuz “clean eaters” are the absolute worst when it comes to cheat day (a.k.a. the day where they binge on all the foods they said you weren’t allowed!).
To see more of me debunking the living f**k out of clean eating, read this.
4. You Need All The Supplements
Every gym has a guy who got sucked in by the supplement industry.
He carries his bag around with him as he trains, as it holds his pre workout, and post workout, and protein shake, and intra-workout BCAAs, and enough capsules to make him rattle as he walks…
Just to f**king exercise.
How did we get so lost?
So heed my warning:
The supplement industry is a great way to improve your performance in the gym, but don’t get sucked in by everything you see. When we cut to the chase, there are only a few supplements which can genuinely be classed as “must have”, and they’re surrounded by a whole load of bulls**t.
Use this handy infographic I created:
5. Steroids Don’t Make A Difference
I don’t have anything against someone who chooses to use steroids.
But I hate ego.
Ego is the enemy of success.
On many occasions, I’ve heard guys attempt to tell others that steroids didn’t make it any easier for them to build muscle. It’s almost as if they were worried their pal was going to lose respect for their results, so they felt the need to justify it with some nonsense:
“Nah bro, if anything, you have to train even harder – otherwise it’ll all turn to fat.”
Let me make two things clear…
Nobody takes steroids because they make it harder.
And no, it won’t all turn to fat. This was well documented in a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, where researchers conducted a trial on four lots of trainees split into the following groups:
- No anabolic steroids and no exercise.
- Anabolic steroids and no exercise.
- No anabolic steroids and weight training 3x per week.
- Anabolic steroids and weight training 3x per week.
There were a couple of interesting findings here.
The group who used steroids and trained with weights experienced the best muscle building results (by far).
And that should be no surprise.
But this will be…
Group 2 built more muscle than group 3.
That’s right… the guys who used steroids but did no training actually built more muscle than the natural guys who hit the gym three times per week! (9, 10)
- Willis L. H., et al. Effects of Aerobic and/or Resistance Training on Body Mass and Fat Mass in Overweight or Obese Adults. J Appl Physiol. (2012)
- Ohkawara K., et al. Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity. (2013)
- Leibel R. L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition. Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
- Golay A., et al. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. (1996)
- Golay A., et al. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1996)
- Luscombe-Marsh N. D., et al. Carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsaturated fat or protein are equally effective at promoting fat loss and improving blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr. (2005)
- Raatz S. K., et al. Reduced Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets Do Not Increase the Effects of Energy Restriction on Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Men and Women. J Nut. (2005)
- Johnston C. S., et al. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. (2006)
- Bhasin S., et al. The effects of supraphysiologic doses of testosterone on muscle size and strength in normal men. N Engl J Med. (1996)
- Sinha-Hikim I., et al. Testosterone-induced increase in muscle size in healthy young men is associated with muscle fiber hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2002)