Despite the massive slew of health & fitness information available to us in this Modern Era, many, unfortunately, are still falling prey to the same, old, myths, fallacies & lies surrounding fitness, training, exercise and nutrition.
Sadly, these myths and misconceptions don't seem to be going away, and not only have greatly distorted people's notions of fitness and exercise, but have also led many to ineffective, harmful and potentially dangerous practices and lifestyles - all supposedly in the name of fitness.
To address these concerns, I have listed some of the most persistent fitness lies and myths that I have encountered in my work as a fitness coach and personal trainer through all these years; and the TRUTHS behind them:
1) MYTH: I Need To Push Myself To the MAX Each & Every Single Workout Session In Order To Achieve My Fitness Goals.
TRUTH: There is indeed a place and time for hard and intense workouts like HIIT, Tabatas, Plyometrics etc. However, there is really NO need to go hard in your workouts all the time! In fact, it is counter-productive to push yourself to the max each and every single workout as you'll be simply BREAKING down your body (without giving it sufficient time to rebuild), suppressing your immune system, and priming yourself for a lifetime of chronic injuries and health issues down the road! Regardless how fit you are, your body and fitness can only develop when given sufficient REST and RECOVERY. Without which, you'll find yourself in a downward spiral in no time! Depending on your fitness levels and goals, 1-3 hard sessions per week are usually more than enough, and they should be sandwiched by easier lower-intensity sessions or active recovery periods (such as brisk walks, easy swims, relaxed bike rides etc) in-between.
2) MYTH: As Long As I Train Hard, I Can Choose To Eat Anything (And Everything) I Like.
TRUTH: Many people do not realize that training/exercise is just ONE part of the fitness equation. You may train all you want or even have the 'best' exercise program in the world, but if your diet is not optimum, you will NEVER EVER achieve your fitness goals! Period!! Remember this: Food provides fuel and building blocks for our bodies. If you put the right stuff (whole foods, lean proteins, variety of greens, healthy fats etc) into your body, they will ultimately drive you towards your fitness goals. On the other hand, if you put JUNK (processed, refined & sugary foods etc) in, that is also what you will get back in return! As the saying goes: "Garbage in, garbage out!"
3) MYTH: To Lose Weight, All I Need To Do Is More Cardio Work.
TRUTH: No one is disputing the role of Cardio Training in any weight loss program. However, cardio work - by itself and alone - is NOT going to be the magic pill to solve your weight issues! To optimize fat loss, it's crucial to also include Resistance Training as part of your overall fitness program. The science behind this rationale is simply this: the MORE muscles you build via resistance training, the MORE calories you burn - even while at rest!! So for effective weight loss, make sure that your fitness program includes NOT only cardio training, but also a BIG dose of resistance work together with sound nutrition and dietary practices.
4) Myth: I Should Aim For Single-Digit Body Fat Levels To Be Really Healthy, Fit & Attractive.
TRUTH: Although many do equate LEANNESS with good health, fitness and general aesthetic appeal, EXTREME leanness - as in low single-digit figures - may actually cause MORE harm than good than you can ever imagine! Research has shown that maintaining an extremely low body fat level is associated with a myriad of health issues, including, but not limited to: heart problems, low energy levels, hormonal imbalances, lowered immunity, decreased brain function, osteoporosis, and general disruptions across your entire endocrine, reproductive, skeletal, and nervous systems!! So rather than obsess over your body fat levels, aim instead for optimal health and fitness! Remember: you can still LOOK great, FEEL great and be in the PINK of health, even if you don't have a Six-Pack!!!
5) Myth: I Can Achieve The Body Of My Dreams With Enough Time & Effort.
TRUTH: Life can indeed be unfair. And the truth of the matter is this: even if you have the best intentions, the best training program, the best diet and nutritional support, chances are, you may NEVER EVER get to achieve your IDEAL physique or body, nor look like the fitness celebrity grazing the front cover of your favourite fitness magazine. Simply put - your GENES will always play a large part in determining how your body shape, aesthetics and physical characteristics pan out eventually!! Rather than aim for a hyped-up, unrealistic image of your ideal self, strive instead to be the very best that you can be - given your unique genetic make-up and potential.
6) Myth: I Should Copy/Duplicate The Exact Same Exercise Routines Of My Favourite Fitness Celebrity To Look Like Him/Her.
TRUTH: Every single human body is DIFFERENT. And every one's response to exercise also DIFFERS - one from another - based on varying factors such as: our skeletal structure, our physiology, our metabolism, the composition of muscle fibres we have, the efficiency of our nervous systems, our past medical/injury histories, etc etc, right down to the very genes that we inherit from our parents! In essence, what works for someone else in the gym may NOT necessarily work for you! So rather than blindly follow an exercise routine that you pick up from a fitness magazine, an Instagram post, or from a fellow "gym-bro", focus instead on educating yourself on the various scientific principles, methodologies and approaches pertaining to exercise and fitness. And always think through mindfully for yourself - what WORKS and what DOESN'T - for your own particular body type, needs and goals!
7) Myth: The Best Person To Teach Me About Fitness Is The One With The Best Physique Around.
TRUTH: Very often, the person who has attained a superb figure or physique for himself/herself, has intimate knowledge of his/her own body and its functions, and is able to optimize the various factors related to training, recovery, nutrition, mindset and sleep - for his/her OWN particular body. And that's where the problem lies. Knowing what works for one's own body is totally DIFFERENT from knowing what works for another person's body! So even if the SAME strategies are taught and applied to another person, factors such as having a different genetic make-up, a different physiology, a different musculo-skeletal structure etc, will all result in totally DIFFERENT results! And in reality, oftentimes too, the person with the 'best' physique may NOT necessarily make the best Teacher, Mentor or Coach !!
8) Myth: I Need To Train In A Fully-Equipped Modern Gym In Order To Get Results.
TRUTH: This myth is often propagated by gym owners, fitness equipment sellers and anyone who has a vested interest in their equipment-based business. They tap on people's ignorance - by selling the notion that you need all the latest, high-tech, glitzy, eye-catching gadgets and tools to achieve results from your fitness program. This is blatantly UNTRUE. In reality, for the majority of people, if you are willing to put in the required effort and hours, together with the necessary lifestyle & dietary changes, plus a healthy dose of scientific know-how and exercise science, you can go a LONG way in improving your fitness, health and aesthetics - even if all you have is a pair of old dumbbells, a worn skipping rope or even just relying on bodyweight training!!
9) Myth: I Need To Eat All The Latest Health Food Supplements To Achieve Results In My Fitness Program
TRUTH: This is another myth that is propagated by those who have a vested interest in selling gels, pills, tablets, supplements and other "health products" to the unsuspecting public. Again the ugly truth is this: many are simply PROFITEERING from people's ignorance and insecurity - by selling the notion that you need all the latest, best-selling supplements to achieve the body of your dreams. In reality, supplements are NO magic pills. They are - as the name itself implies - merely aids to add-on or enhance -what you should already have in place! In other words, NO supplement in the world is going to help an ounce in your fitness pursuits if your training, your diet or your lifestyle is totally out of sync! Always aim to get your fitness basics and foundations right - BEFORE even contemplating using supplements. Even then, you can also always get all the nutrients you ever need from NATURAL, WHOLE & REAL foods instead!
10) Myth: I Can Learn All I Need To Now About Fitness From Social Media
TRUTH: Social media is a double-edged tool. There are lots of useful stuff there, but also plenty of misinformation, falsehoods and outright lies! Too many people have been misled and duped by 'advice' dished out by so-called fitness "celebrities", "gurus" and "experts" on social media - resulting in erroneous and dangerous interpretations of training, exercise, nutrition etc. For your own sake, always take what you see/read/hear on social media with an extra pinch of salt, and with extreme caution! Keep your eyes WIDE OPEN, question what you see/hear, and never ever follow blindly everything and anything - especially when it comes to (mis)information that affects your very own health, fitness and well-being!!