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Step Into the Rage
Ten Myths Demystified
Author: Jim Gray
Publish Date: 1/28/2009 12:00:00 AM

Here's the scene: you're at the gym and someone's obviously been watching you train because they have just approached you and offered you advice about the current exercise you are doing. In most instances you feel insulted and angry. The reality is, this person just wanted to talk to you; they also have no clue about what your goals in fitness are. If your form is correct then they don't really have anything to say. Graciously, or not so graciously, thank them for their advice and then continue to do it the right way.

The gym is a melting-pot of exercise and sporting cultures. Some have backgrounds in football, wrestling, body building, or track & field, while others are there just to look good or die trying. Unfortunately, it seems like everyone has their own secret weapon for getting in shape (whether they are in shape or not) and everyone wants everyone to know it. Granted people sharing knowledge is often an "ice breaker" for conversation but sometimes it just gets old, especially when they are wrong or their advice isn't tuned for your specific purpose.

So how does one get past all the gym myths floating around? Easy- know your stuff and stick to you guns. Even if someone seems in shape it doesn't mean the advice they are about to give you actually will work for you.

Myth#1: Runners shouldn't take protein because they are not bodybuilders.

This is a common one I see everyday. "I'm a runner- why would I take protein?" Bodybuilders take in roughly 1-2 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. This can differ slightly depending on many factors but this is the standard. Your average shake only has 30 grams and the average runner only intake roughly 70 grams of protein, if they are lucky; women often only tip the scales at 30-40grams of protein in my experience. Add those two numbers up and you haven't even made the requirement of one gram per pound. Most bodybuilders would say this is the lowest you can take without losing too much muscle. Some can build on the "one to one" but some do have a problem with it. I generally take in .8/1 which is even below that. Anything lower than that and I diminish over night. The purpose of protein is to aid in the rebuilding of muscle fibers. Runners use muscle fibers, albiet differently than body builders. They do fatigue muscles that then need rebuilding. That's why it's so hard to run two marathons in a day- the muscles need to recover. So if a runner isn't getting the 1/1 protein ration then they more than likely won't achieve massive muscle gains. Some people are just predisposed to building muscle easily, but most aren't. Runners can benefit from taking in one to two 30 gram protein shakes a day, typically after their run to aid in the rebuilding of strong muscles. Read Myth #5 if you are still unsure about muscle.

Myth#2: Women shouldn't take protein if they don't want to get huge like a guy. Getting big is a difficult endeavor. People who try to get muscular have to lift heavy and consume large amounts of food, protein, supplements with ZMA, and much more (including steroids) just to see results. If it were easy people wouldn't be so prone to cheating and taking enhancement drugs. Women often times have a harder time building muscle because their bodies. In many cases but not all, they have a hard time with many factors that aid in the building of muscle see: for more information. The problem still remains that women and men both have a difficult time building muscle, even for guys to get "Huge" is not entirely natural. You should be happy with which ever body type you have but realize that the majority of women won't get huge because they ingest more protein. Still not convinced? See the Myth below for more information.

Myth#3: All fat burners are the same. Not all fat burners are the same. If you are in the market for a fat burner but you don't know what to take, then the wrong thing to do is go to a sport shop and ask the guy at the desk. In a few cases they will know what's good but might not know what's good for you. In most cases they'll just try to push their most expensive product off on you. If you are un-trusting or worried about side effects then follow the directions below:

  1. Find a set of products either online or at the store.
  2. Get a list of ingredients in each product and research them for yourself.
  3. Take the last few finalists to a nutrition or supplement specialist and discuss which will be good for your specific goals as well as discuss them with your doctor.
  4. Follow your doctor's advice and make sure to let them know of any exhibited side effects.
  5. Take the fat burner, workout and eat. Be sure to consume a lot of water, more than you would normally take in.

Myth#4: Doing cardio 3 times a week for 30 minutes is enough to get in great shape. Do you want to lose weight or do you want to casually lose weight? Some people find it very difficult to train longer than 30 minutes in a workout. Some people find it hard to train more than three times a week. 3-30 is a general number put out there by physicians for beginners and what people fail to realize is that if a person doesn't challenge themselves they won't progress. If someone doesn't understand that then they should consider hiring a personal trainer. A good personal trainer will help guide a person toward their goals. See this article for information on selecting a personal trainer: ISSA Online.

As a person progresses with their training, they should continue to challenge themselves, including altering duration and frequency of workouts. When I first started exercising, 1/4 of a mile was too much to run and 30 minutes was way too long for weight training. As of this article I can weight train for four hours and in the four hours also run 5 miles with ease (I wouldn't workout for that long); granted this duration isn't good for me but it does help me occasionally get over workout humps and challenge my endurance. I also used to weigh 315lbs and now sport a visible six-pack at 235lbs with an increase of more than 30lbs of muscle. The trick is to always challenge yourself and push yourself with intensity and duration/frequency- but always consult a physician before starting any exercise program.

Myth#5: Too much muscle makes you slow. I can't tell you how many people have told me that athletes shouldn't want to get so big because it will make them slow for their sport and speed is more important in many sports. Don't believe them one little bit. When I weigh 240lbs and could grapple as fast as a 170lber. The reason is that not only do I lift to get strong but I lift and do other exercises to maintain an efficient cardiovascular system and fast muscles. Fast Muscles!? There are essentially two types of muscle fibers we worry about for movement. The first is the "Type One" muscle fiber that can slowly lift heavier loads than their counterpart, the "Type Two" muscle fiber. The type two muscle fibers have less endurance but can explode quickly and with a lot of force. Each sport has its own requirement for the "Type 1 / Type 2 Balance". I don't know my balance of muscle fiber types but I know I move quickly and more effiently the more muscle I have. Muscles are what help you move. The idea of speed is based on power output. More muscle that is correctly trained, the more power. Here is an article that can go into Muscle Type Training in more detail .

Myth#6: Don't drink water to lose weight. Our bodies are roughly 70% water and use that water to transfer nutrients and minerals to every part of our body via blood flow. Water keeps joints lubricated, as well as organs healthy to do their jobs. Limiting water is a time bomb and you're body will let you know when you've gone too far. "Too far" is the key word. A lack of water can cause kidney failure, organ failure, joint injury, dry skin, as well as delirium.

Water is important for many reasons but for someone trying to lose weight it's more important to lose fat than just weight. Limiting water in hopes of losing a few pounds is dangerous to say the least and is in fact, counter productive. Many Americans suffer from infrequent bowel movements. A lack of water is often a reason, as more and more people opt for soda, juice, milk, and other flavored beverages instead of water. Many complain that water has no taste; which is of course childish. Paying bills doesn't make me happy but I do it anyway, as do many people. Drinking water might not be the most tasty aspect of your day but it is very important especially if you are active. Besides, water doesn't need to be filtered by your liver or kidneys so it gets absorbed much faster than other liquids leaving you lighter and fresher feeling. Water also helps people exercising maintain exercise intensity as a loss in water weight means a loss in blood pressure- an important aspect of exercise intensity. Increased blood flow also aids in the mobilization of fat (use of fat resulting in a reduction of body fat).

Myth#7: Eat less to lose weight. You need to eat. Food is fuel. It's that simple. Many think if they don't consume food that they can lose weight. Believe me I did this and my daily intake wasn't over a pound- and that included water. Although I got skinny and lost weight I didn't lose as much fat as I thought. So when I re-hydrated a great deal of those dehydrated lipids grew rapidly and all the pain I caused myself was for not.

Eating food is a wonderful experience that many take for granted; not so much that they don't do it but that they do it too much and of the wrong types of food. Food fuels our bodies. We need it. So eat the right foods. Don't know what foods are right then check out my book Weight Off My Back" for more specific details. You don't have to be an athlete to lose weight. Even small changes make huge differences. The trick is to limit things that are too high in energy for your activity level, slow your metabolism, or alter mood. Yes, some foods alter your mood by influencing chemical reactions in your body. Find the right foods that have a balance of what the body needs and eat them often throughout the day. Eating often tells your metabolism that it's alright to burn fat for fuel because there will be more on the way. Try to limit fats, excessive sodium, and simple carbohydrates, and you will be on the road to burning fat in no time.

Myth#8 & 9: "You should only do cardio after weights." This is not so much a myth as it is a misconception of another person's goals. Personally, I try to split up my cardiovascular exercises and my resistance training, either by day or by workout. Even then I pay attention to frequency and order of my workouts so as to maximize each workout. Sometimes this is difficult but you make due where you can.

The problem is that most individuals will answer this question from personal experience or they will over generalize the solution for people. The over-generalization is where they confuse people as one large group of people with the same goals in mind. We all have different goals. So this idea of cardio and weights has to be tailored to the individual's goals.

First of all- cardio uses energy- lots of it and fatigues muscles and uses up energy stores including that of muscles not directly being utilized for the cardio training. In other words- cardio burns calories. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it also reduces muscular effectiveness when lifting weights. Weight training is best practiced by pushing a lot of weight, as much as you can in as short an amount of time as safely as possible. If your upper body is fatigued from running but wasn't directly used in the effort of running, then those muscles aren't as fatigued (typically, some people have trained their muscles to be extremely efficient for both) to utilize weight lifting efforts.

In essence cardio before weights limits weight lifting effectiveness, while weights first can help to diminish some stores of energy before cardio, and fat burning, even begin. Unfortunately, this expenditure of energy (cardio) after completing a demanding weight routine actually diminishes the energy available for cardio. So note that if you do cardio first then you won't be able to lift as much, if you do weights first, then you won't be able to do cardio as well. What are your goals? Both methods are good for weight loss, but do the exercise that helps you approach your goals better. Also note that doing long durations of cardio after weight training is not a good idea if you want to retain muscle mass. If your goal is to gain muscle mass then breaking down your muscles and then starving them during cardio is not an efficient method for putting muscle on. I would limit cardio after resistance training to about 10 minutes, max, and immediately. Don't forget to get your carbs and protein after your workout to pump amino acids into your muscle cells for growth.

Myth#10: "Jogging is hard on your knees." Many think that jogging is hard on the knees. Yes, it can be- but so can many other things not considered "high impact" if they are done incorrectly. Luckily, running can be very easy on your joints. Personally I have had numerous foot injuries and knee surgery but I continue to run now and when I was 285lbs with little to no pain. The idea that jogging is bad on your knees comes from all the joggers who have bad technique when jogging. Think about all the people you know who run and have never consulted a running coach. Running is a complex activity that requires proper foot placement, stride, push-off technique, and body counter balancing just to avoid injury. Please note that injuries may not develop immediately, and may only surface in old age when joints are severely damaged after years of abuse. As technique is important to a martial artist or javelin thrower, so it is important to a casual runner. I will mention casual runners because if you are not a casual runner then you are probably already aware of the need for proper technique. Many people, especially joggers, bounce too much when running because of the lack of stride in their run. Other effects can be environmental; running on the side of a slanted road which can cause uneven impacts on joints as well as throw knees, hips, and spine out of alignment- the compensation of which can also decrease running efficiency.

There are many sources you can find that will teach you proper form. If you plan to run a lot, even casually, it might be a good idea to hire a running trainer to help hone your technique. Many magazines have online articles and videos to help deal with technique and injuries that can arise from pour technique. My favorite is

There you are- ten myths demystified. It's common place to have them and not even know it. The idea is to become educated in areas of fitness and nutrition to help you make educated decisions about the goals you have. If you want to lose weight then read publications and attend events that pertain to this goal. Always beware of individuals trying to sell their product in the guise of a helpful product. The idea of this article was as an introduction and understanding of a few myths one can encounter anywhere concerning fitness. In the end it's your responsibility to ensure you are educated and confident in what you know and practice it as best as you can. This way when someone comes to you to inform you about your methods of exercise- you can lay the details of your knowledge at them and watch them squirm.

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