BY: Abby Pollock | May 25, 2020 | 9 minute read
We take scientific methods and results into account when busting these myths.
It seems that since being stuck inside, a whole new crop of fitness myths have popped up around building muscle, losing fat, and getting fit at home.
Myths that – in an already stressful time – are only going to make life more difficult than it needs to be.
MYTH #1: If you stop lifting weights, you’re going to lose all your gains.
“Gains” will mean different things to different people. In the fitness community, gains typically describe the progress you’ve made in strength and/or muscle.
The fitness industry talks about how you can build more muscle, more strength, and do more, more, more!
But there isn’t much focus on how to maintain what you’ve got. This “more is better” mentality can create a lot of anxiety when you’re off your usual routine.
Based on the current body of literature, muscle and strength are more resilient to time off than you may think.
A 2011 study, examined the effects of continuous versus interrupted resistance training on muscle size and strength. Over the course of 15 weeks, one group trained continuously while the other group trained for 6 weeks, 3 weeks off, then trained another 6 weeks until the end of the study (1).
The mechanisms that regulate muscle and strength do not operate on calendar weeks.
At the end of the study, both groups experienced similar improvements in muscle size and strength. Suggesting that – at least in the short term – taking a few weeks off won’t cause you to lose all your progress.
The same researchers followed up in 2013 with a similar study, except this time they extended it to 24 weeks where one group trained continuously while the other trained for 6 weeks on, 3 weeks off, 6 weeks on, 3 off, then finished with 6 weeks on (2).
MYTH #1: Busted.
If three weeks off isn’t going to ruin you, what’s 4, 5, 6 weeks?
The mechanisms that regulate muscle and strength do not operate on calendar weeks. So it’s not like you’re going to get to 6 weeks off weight lifting then all of a sudden your body decides… “oops I guess she doesn’t need us any more!”
stay active and find ways to get up off your butt. If you’re reading this sitting down, stand up. Boom. Done. Just because you’re not lifting heavy doesn’t mean you can’t load your muscles. Your body has weight and any movement is better than no movement.
Now, you’re probably used to lifting more weight than this, so just going about your daily activities isn’t going to fully activate your muscles. When you’re lifting a heavy weight or training to near failure, that’s when your muscles are fully activated.
While you may not have access to the same weights right now, you can increase the technical difficulty and / or reps of an exercise to take it to failure.
For example, instead of a bodyweight hip thrust, try a single leg hip thrust. And then instead of doing – say 10 reps – keep going till you can’t anymore.
MYTH #2: If you can’t lift weights, you can’t build muscle
MYTH #2: Busted.
In times like these, it’s important to broaden your definition to include other techniques for progression.
More range of motion: The same force applied across a greater distance equals MORE work being done by your muscles.
- More awareness and control: This is also known as having “better form.” This can help ensure the right muscles are applying the force and that your muscles are applying that force across the full range of motion, rather than shifting the emphasis to other joints or muscles.
- More reps: Specifically more reps with the intent of training to failure, as near failure training has been shown to recruit more muscle fibers.
- More time under tension: You can achieve this by doing more range of motion OR by slowing down the speed at which you’re actually performing the exercise.
Research has shown that slowing down the “lowering” eccentric portion of the exercise has greater impacts on muscle growth as compared to slowing down the “lifting” concentric portion (3).
Lately, I’ve been following the team plans home plan using gallon jugs & cans for 4 full body workouts per week. I am focusing on having a full range of motion and keeping my form TIGHT even though I’m lifting light.
I am moving fast on the concentric and slow on the eccentric. Moving faster on the concentric hasn’t been shown to have a significant impact on muscle growth.
Going off basic physics…
*Distance, in this case being range of motion
If concentric speed doesn’t matter anyways, why not go fast, decrease my total rep time and as a result focus on more power?
It’s worth a try.
MYTH #3: You need to use this time to diet.
MYTH #3: Busted.
This past year I stopped tracking calories after about 7 years… and while it was a big adjustment at first, some things I found helpful were:
- Have a plan.
It’s really hard to go from having so much structure to no structure. Your plan can be as simple as saying I’m going to have 2 meals and 2 snacks about equally spaced throughout the day.
Aim to eat protein with each meal.
Protein especially helps with fullness. I find it helpful setting protein as a focal point for my meals then planning the rest of my meals that also include a balanced portion of carbs and fats.
Invest in plates and bowls that are in line with the portions you want to eat.
Use the plate to help portion your meals – that’s it – no scales, no apps, no tracking. While the research isn’t conclusive on how eating off a smaller plate affects fullness or satisfaction from your meals, I find it’s a helpful tool to get into a routine with portioning your food.
MYTH #4: You need to eat every couple hours to keep your metabolism firing.
MYTH #4: Busted.
The Thermic Effect of Food is directly proportional to the amount of food you eat and is thought to use 5-15% of the energy acquired from that food (4).
MYTH #5: You need to use this time to be super productive.
MYTH #5: Busted.
This is why instead of working harder, I want you to work smarter. Break your goal down into the smallest steps possible, take those steps and turn them into daily actions – because when you do this they become doable.
With just a little effort, those daily actions become daily wins and repeated over time, become habits. Habits that are going to work whether you’re motivated or not and make this a lifestyle you can live long term.
One of the easiest ways to work smarter and not harder is by making movement a habit. Honor your body with activity every day.
This is why I created 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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