| June 20, 2021

Poor training advice and what to do about it

We live in an information age where we can get answers to many fitness and health related questions at the touch of our fingers.

By Trevor Mah

Read time: 5 min.

We live in an information age where we can get answers to many fitness and health related questions at the touch of our fingers. Having this universal accessibility is great and gives people exposure to their advice (by the way, thanks for visiting our site). On the other hand, this has also made it just as easy for poor information to rapidly circulate as well.

Going through an experience first hand or having the education and fundamental knowledge can allow people to disseminate good and bad information on the internet. Whether these are concepts that have been greatly exaggerated or deemed conclusive from limited research, old fashioned “fitness myths”, or just simply overheard questionable information, remember that you have a duty to yourself to be well informed if you want to be in your best.

Having heard and seen many people persuaded by poor advice, here is a quick list of common poor “tips” you may have heard before, and what to do about it to correct yourself if you happen to have fallen for it. There are literally hundreds of pieces of bad advice, but it would be depressing and a little nerve racking to have to remind and write through a lot of them. So to avoid you from spending more time on bad advice than you need to, I’ll keep things short and sweet so you can get the main points.

Lifting weights will make you bulky
There are likely very few females who have never heard this fitness myth at any point of their lives. Lifting weights to put on pure mass was popularized in the ‘80s and ‘90s by bodybuilders, but now you will see many strong men and women who lift weights that have defined curves and body shapes. Simply put, this was a lifting myth that likely went too far because of the synonymous idea of muscles and old school bodybuilders.

What can you learn from it?
First off, lifting weights won’t make you bulky. Eating poorly will do that for you. Lifting weights in a reasonable manner will aid in building lean muscle mass and boost your metabolism. Your body composition will benefit from resistance training the way the human body is built. Getting bulky usually stems from a poor corresponding diet or in some unfortunate circumstances, poor genetics. Another thing to note is that feeling bulky can be more of a psychological/body image problem rather than a result of your physical resistance training activities. That’s another whole topic on it’s own, but the bottom line is that between being healthy or not, lifting weights will generally push you more towards the healthy end of the spectrum.

The “Fat Burning” Zone is Ideal for Cardio
You’ve seen this labelled on pretty much all cardio machines. This essential target zone where you should maintain your pace in order to burn fat during cardio. Coupled with a counter that displays the amount of calories burned through some magical calculation between speed, incline, and time, people tend to fall for this one all the time. Ultimately, the fat burning zone is a marketing ploy from the manufacturers to get you to use and purchase their product. Cardio machines are great, but these additional “features” are simply bells and whistles to mistakenly guide you through shedding excess fat.

Don’t get this confused with a target heart rate zone though. Even though the “fat burning zone” seems like it’s related to it, your heart rate is a measure of your cardiovascular health that shouldn’t be directly correlated with how much fat you’ve lost during your session.

What can you learn from it?
Fortunately, as much as bad advice still goes around, good advice does also come to the surface. Many people are now learning about proper concepts that matter when it comes to fat loss. For example, one important principle is your excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC) which is a measure of how much energy is expended after your workout to allow your body to recover back to its baseline state (or improved level if you have been properly progressing). Essentially, the key notion is to understand that you burn more calories after a workout (with proper nutrition and rest), than you do during a workout. So while your machine may state that you burned a couple hundred calories (which is hard to accurately measure), a well balanced workout that includes resistance training at its core supplemented by modest cardio will yield a much higher net “burn”.

Feeling Sore Is A Sign of a Good Workout
Another idea that likely became popularized from media and early fitness influencers is that feeling beat up, sweaty, and exhausted means you had a great workout. This type of thinking is short-sighted and ironically doesn’t actually takes exercise as a means to an end.

Feeling sore from a workout is a sign of muscle inflammation. If done correctly, this inflammation is beneficial because it signals your body to positively adapt to this stimulus and become better. But constantly aiming for this sense of being thrashed or destroyed the next day because of the insane pump you had the night before becomes counterproductive in the long run. Not being able to move or being too sore to workout again prevents you from progress because your recovery period has stagnated. Worse yet, this type of overtraining can eventually lead to other problems such as mood swings, poor appetite/eating, and even cause you to lose muscle. Your body is a great compensation system, but it doesn’t know the difference between working out for your health or surviving a beating.

What can you learn from it?
A proper workout plan that includes ample rest will prevent you from long periods of soreness. A workout structure that is programmed for appropriate intensity and other factors will get you the results without having to guess and take an all or nothing approach to fatigue. Remember, training should always make you more resilient at the end of the day, not beat you up. You should feel more invigorated and stronger after each workout instead. Don’t chase soreness, chase performance.

These are but a few of the most common workout and fitness tips that I have come across. While I dread having to remind myself of more of them in later instalments, I hope at the very least this makes you think a little more about what you may come across if they aren’t backed up by general training knowledge.

For more of these, see part two.

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