BY: Abby Pollock | May 25, 2020 | 9 minute read
We take scientific methods and results into account when busting these myths.
Whether you're just starting your fitness journey or getting back on track after taking time off, this article is just for you.
MYTH #1: You need to train every day.
It’s important to understand the difference between “training” and “staying active.”
“Training” involves working out in a specific way for a specific goal. Your body adapts in response to stress and so the idea is that if we expose your body to a specific stress, it will have a specific adaptation.
HOWEVER, you can’t just keep stressing your body to infinity.
The best way to explain why is with the Fitness-Fatigue Model, which explains your body’s response to different training stressors. You start at baseline, which represents your general fitness level. (1) Then, after a bout of training there’s competing effects between “fitness” and “fatigue.” The interaction between the two results in your performance.
Oftentimes after a challenging bout of training, you’ll feel sore, tired, or worn out. But if you give yourself enough time to recover, you’ll get to a point where you feel even better than when you started. The key is to push when you need to, back off to recover, then continue to challenge yourself session after session so you can keep raising your fitness level.
This is where there’s a disconnect.
MYTH #1: Busted.
While this model is optimal for performance, there’s no consideration for lifestyle. In order to reap the rewards of the Fitness-Fatigue model or any of this science, you need to make exercise a habit in the first place.
This is why instead of focusing on just the train, recover, train, recover cycle, I focus on “staying active” and scaling my activity to my needs.
On “training” days, I’m pushing my body.
On “staying active” days, I’m exploring new ways of moving my body but not pushing too hard. I am not aiming for a specific number of reps , sets, or anything like that. I am just keeping active. This will help maintain your metabolism on non-training days as well as increase blood flow to recovering muscle tissue.
MYTH #2: If you eat like so-and-so, you’ll look like so-and-so.
Sometimes it can feel like social media is a place of metabolic unicorns where everyone can eat lots of food and stay shredded year round. But this is not the reality for everyone. This isn’t even always the reality for the people you see online
Social media is a snapshot. When you see a “what I eat in a day” video you’re not seeing someone’s lifestyle as a whole. This isn’t a knock on anyone, but it is very difficult to fit everything you do into the span of a 10-15 minute video.
In order to really see how someone’s diet affects them and why it works for them, you would need a 24 hour live stream of their life. While there are differences in metabolism from person-to-person, the Energy Balance Equation still applies and these differences aren’t as significant as you may think.
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you burn sitting, breathing, and existing). BMR accounts for about 60% of daily energy expenditure in the healthy, but sedentary general population. This has been shown to vary 7-9% between people of similar age, BMI, and gender.
- Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) is the calories burned breaking down and digesting food. TEF accounts for 8-15% of energy expenditure, depending on your diet and the types of foods you eat.
- Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA) makes up the calories burned through structured activity. TEA accounts for 15-30% of energy expenditure if you regularly workout.
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) equals the calories burned through spontaneous activity. NEAT Accounts for 6-10% of energy expenditure in the healthy, but sedentary population and can go up to 50% or more in highly active subjects.
MYTH #2: Busted.
The only real “genetic” factor here is the variance in BMR. The rest is all lifestyle, which is very hard to show in a single post on social media.
Use what you see online as inspiration. Maybe take it as a starting point, but instead of focusing so much on the specifics of what someone else is doing, pay attention to the patterns.
What habits do they have?
Are these habits serving them or stopping them from reaching their goals?
At the end of the day, you live in YOUR body which means you need to do what works for YOU. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.
MYTH #3: You need to feel sore after every workout.
WRONG. LIE. FALSE. STOP.
Soreness is an indicator of muscle damage which typically occurs in response to trying new movements or pushing yourself beyond your current fitness level.
The belief that you need to break your muscles down in order to build them back up likely came from early research on exercise-induced muscle damage where they observed that muscle protein synthesis increased after damaging exercise.
However, a 2016 study challenged this when they investigated the relationship between muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth over a 10 week period in untrained men (3).
Muscle soreness was also greatest following the first session, while strength recovery was slowest:
*Strength, as measured by maximum Voluntary Contraction (MVC)
**Blood Marker of Soreness, as measured by Creatine Kinase (CK) Activity
This is in line with what we know about the Fitness-Fatigue model, where more stress (in this case; muscle damage) leads to a longer recovery time.
Muscle protein synthesis was greatest following the first training session. HOWEVER when corrected for muscle damage, protein synthesis was no different between Weeks 1, 3, or 10.
*Muscle Protein Synthesis, as measured by Myofibrillar Protein Fractional Synthetic Rates (Myo FSR)
Muscle growth steadily increased across the study, however muscle growth had no relationship with any marker of muscle damage at any point.
MYTH #3: Busted.
What this suggests is that while muscle damage increases protein synthesis, muscle repair and muscle growth are separate processes.
Intentionally damaging your muscles or training to the point of “soreness” will not necessarily lead to better results. If you’re just getting started, it may slow recovery and prevent you from bringing your best to each session.
This is why instead of gauging effectiveness by how you feel AFTER your workout, focus on how you feel DURING each exercise. You can then increase the intensity there by lifting more weight, moving with more control, or moving with more power.
MYTH #4: You need to plan every meal, track every workout, and be laser-focused on your goal.
Kinda, but not really.
I understand the whole “fail to plan, plan to fail” thing, but there is a difference between being aware and being obsessed.
When you’re first getting started it can feel like there’s so many decisions to make:
What are you eating
When are you eating
When are you prepping it
Weights or no weight
You’re so overwhelmed that come dinnertime, you just say “screw it” and eat the pantry. You didn’t wanna do that, but you ran out of willpower.
A 2011 study examined over a thousand court rulings over a 10-month period (4). All of the rulings were made by a parole board judge, who determined whether or not someone would be released on parole or have changes made to their parole.
You’d hope that the judge’s decision would be influenced by the type of crime committed, laws broken, or other factors in the case. However, researchers found otherwise. There was a clear relationship between time of day and favorable ruling.
At the beginning of the day, the judge gave a favorable ruling about 65% of the time. This rate decreased as the day went on. Interestingly, favorable rulings increased following food breaks.
MYTH #4: Busted.
Researchers refer to this as “decision fatigue.”
In the case of the judge, after making so many decisions, it was easier to say “no” than take the mental energy to figure out if someone should be released or not.
In the case of fitness, after a day of “staying on track” and making so many decisions about what you eat and how you workout, it’s easier to shut off and go back to your old ways.
Logically, does it make sense? No. But it’s the reality of how our brains work and why willpower fails.
What I’ve found helpful is to reduce the number of decisions I have to make in a day. I map out an outline of what I want to commit to in terms of food and fitness. Then I give myself two options for each
Because I’ve already made the commitment, it’s not a matter of if I do it or not. Instead it becomes a decision of this or that.
MYTH #5: You need to do it alone.
When I first started my fitness journey, I felt like everyone was against me. My family. My boyfriend. My friends.
“Just a bite.”
“Just a drink.”
The last time I really struggled with this was when I was trying to lose weight. I spent over a year STUCK, working so hard for so little results. This drove a wedge between me and Jeff, my best friend, my partner, my dude.
We had just started living together.
His eating style was completely different from mine. He could eat whatever he wanted, in moderation, not worry about it. And so, I took it as a personal attack when he’d bring peanut butter home.
MYTH #5: Busted.
The truth is, the people in your life can be your greatest HELP or your greatest HINDRANCE.
The difference is you.
If you believe you’re going to fai, you're going to fail...
If you believe that because there’s peanut butter in the house, you’re gonna eat the whole jar…
Every experience you have, you’re gonna be looking at through that lens.
You’re gonna find a way to prove yourself right because that’s the belief you know. It doesn’t matter how much someone else tries to help you because you’ve got your mind made up. You’re going to find a way to prove yourself right.
So before anyone else can support you, you need to support YOU.
You’re not going to change your beliefs overnight. You’re not going to wake up a different person. It doesn’t work like that unfortunately. The belief that “you’re gonna fail” is sucking the life out of you.
One of the best ways to start reprogramming your brain and how you think about your fitness journey is to start showing up for yourself. Start supporting yourself before other people can start supporting you.
There is so much power in showing up for yourself. It will transform your relationships, your body, your mind and your entire life.
But it starts with you.
One of the easiest ways to start showing up for yourself is by making movement a habit. Honor your body with activity every day.
This is why we have the Made To Move It Challenge. It is all about making movement a habit that lasts. Best part, it is 100% free to join.
Made To Move It Challenge includes:
- Weekly workout calendars
- Daily workouts
- NEW HIIT, dance, & more ways of moving your body
- Cooking & recipe round up videos
- PLUS lots of love from myself and the rest of this community
I’d love for you to join us, so click the button below to sign up!
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