By Tia Norris, April 2016 Issue of Echo Magazine in Phoenix, AZ.
“I pity the fool.” Everyone remembers the famous line said by the one and only muscle-bound, jewelry-decorated, Mohawk-rocking Mr. T.
When it comes to fitness, I pity the fool who takes bad advice almost as much as I pity the fool who gives it. In fact, I was pissed off before even writing this article because I can’t believe some of the utterly asinine, smoke-and-mirrors bs that people believe about diet and fitness these days.
While most “health professionals,” bloggers or pyramid-climbing sales people might know what worked for them individually, they typically do not have a realistic understanding of what works for most people. Or, they may have only studied fitness from the white-glove dreamland of academia, but have a tragic deficit of real world experience. So instead, they give free advice, they blog or they sell.
So, in honor of April Fools’ Day, here are three of the worst fitness myths today, followed by the truth about what really works.
1. Cardio Will Get Me in Shape
Cardio will work, for a limited amount of time, for people who have 20 pounds or more to lose. Cardio will not give your physique shape, tone or much visual change at all if you have less weight to lose (this makes up the majority of the people that I work with).
Did you know that one pound of muscle burns 50 calories per day, at rest? Gain 1 pound of muscle, burn 50 calories per day with zero effort. That means burning while you’re at work, in your car, and even while you sleep at night.
What if you gained 10 pounds of muscle? That’s 500 calories per day with zero effort. Multiply 500 calories per day, times seven days in a week, and you’ve burned 3,500 calories with no effort – that’s equal to 1 pound of body fat!
Cardio burns calories in the moment, while lifting has a higher metabolic demand during and after – your exercise. Muscle is very “expensive” tissue, metabolically speaking. It takes a lot of resources to keep your muscles burning. Lifting builds muscle, muscle burns fat. Now hit the weights.
2. Supplements Will Get Me in Shape
Supplements are not meant to be the main part of your program. They are meant to supplement hard exercise, proper dieting and healthy lifestyle changes. That means IN ADDITION to your program.
Many people look to supplements as shortcuts. Supplements are a Band-Aid over the problem, and the problem is your shitty willpower and lack of discipline. Realize that diet and exercise will do the majority of the work. Saddle up.
Let’s also not forget that the majority of supplements are dangerous! There is no regulation on dietary supplements. Manufacturers simply provide a disclaimer on their products that the claims have not been evaluated by the FDA, and they can sell you whatever they want. That means that you and I could collect a vial of toilet water, carpet lint and crushed Oreos and sell it as a weight loss supplement. It’s a buyer beware market … STAY AWAY!
3. Isolation Exercises Will Get Me in Shape
“When I do bicep curls, bro, I’m not working my glutes. Curls for the girls, son.”
“I don’t need to worry about my shoulders when I’m squatting. SQUATZILLA, baby!”
Wrong! EVERY lift is a total-body exercise.
If you don’t squeeze your glutes on pull-ups, your lower back rounds, your shoulders won’t fully externally rotate and your whole system collapses. Hello, rotator cuff injury!
If you have poor scapular retraction during a squat (not squeezing your shoulder blades together), your hips can’t possibly achieve the proper depth without a mobility fault.
Every single lift has the same five basic mobility maxims:
1. Squeeze glutes and abs.
2. Lower sternum directly over pelvis.
3. Externally rotate shoulders (wrists and elbows, if necessary). “Break the bar” with your grip.
4. Externally rotate hips and knees (ankles, if necessary). “Spread the floor” with your feet.
5. Generally, point/push through your whole foot when it is on the ground.
Virtually all muscles should be activated for all lifts. There is no such thing as an isolation exercise. You will feel a major difference in power and stability. You’ll see much quicker results, in both strength and physique. Most importantly, though, you’ll stay injury free.
So, stop asking for advice from a friend of a friend, stop reading the blogs and stop thinking that you’ll find results at the bottom of a blender bottle. Instead, use your head, hit the weights, eat right, avoid quick fixes and be aware of your body when you lift … that should solve 90 percent of the equation! The other 10 percent is on you – don’t be fooled.