Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Number #5 will surprise you!
We've all heard that gym bro saying higher reps "tone" your body while lower reps "strengthen or build" your muscles right?
Though that may be slightly true, the truth is far from it. Unfortunately there's a lot, and I mean a lot of misinformation on the internet, between gym buddies or so called "personal trainers" who don't have a clue about what they're talking about (forgive me for saying that).
Let's start debunking those myths shall we?
#1. Training on an empty stomach burns more fat and/or calories
There are two kinds of people. Those who thrive working out in the morning before breakfast and those (like me) who need to get some food in their system first. Again, keep it simple, there are no secrets or some kind of magic to fat loss, it's plain science.
Eat less calories than you burn and voila! The weight gradually comes off. I could sell you "magic" plans and foods that shred fat of your belly but that would be straight-up lying to your face.
THE TRUTH: If training on a fasted state first thing in the morning suits your schedule and you can handle it then great, keep doing your thing! But if you do it just because you think it will speed up your fat loss journey then stop. Do what feels right for YOU, eat something first or do your workout later in the day after breakfast and lunch, it's really up to you.
#2. You need high amounts of protein if you exercise
Everybody's heard that the most important thing when exercising is enough protein. That every meal needs to have protein, "eat your chicken, yogurt, have protein shakes right after your workout". Although protein is in fact important for muscle growth and maintenance, too much of it is may be harmful to your liver and when the human body gets an excess of protein from the amount it needs, it basically gets rid of protein through urine!
THE TRUTH: You probably need much less protein than you think, I won't go into the math here, that's for another time. Don't make it complicated. Eat a variety of foods, from all the groups (protein, carbohydrates, fat) and exercise, it's that simple. If you're struggling with what protein sources to consume and are vegan or transitioning to plant based, then I can help you.
#3. Higher reps "tone" your body and lower reps help you to bulk up
Oh. My. God. I have to admit this is something I used to believe as a teenager. That somehow the weight and amount of reps you do will transform your body in a different way. First of all you need to take into consideration all the factors... Are you in a caloric deficit? Are your workouts effective? Are you eating correctly?
THE TRUTH: Higher repetitions, hence lighter weight are great for muscle endurance (see push-ups, dips, bodyweight squats etc.) and lower repetitions with heavier weight, mostly used in compound movements (see bench press, deadlift etc.) are great to build up your strength. But what will really determine your body composition is the calorie intake and your goals.
Do you want to build muscle? Then you should focus more on the 6-15 rep range for optimal muscle hypertrophy PLUS eating in a caloric surplus. Do you want to lower your body fat and lose weight? Then a combination of both lower and higher reps is a good option PLUS eating in a caloric deficit.
Determine your goal first and then find a great workout & meal plan to achieve that!
#4. You should stretch before exercising
There are two types of stretching. Static, where you hold the stretch for a period of time & Dynamic, which keeps the body moving and acts as a warm-up.
Think of this, if you grab a cold rubber band and stretch it, what do you think will happen? It will probably break. The same goes for your body. When you get ready to start your workout your body is cold. It needs some sort of warm-up to get ready for the workout ahead. Things like push-ups, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, arm swings etc act like body warmers.
Once you're done with your workout and your body temperature is high, that's when you need to cool it down with some nice light static stretching - such as shown in the image.
#5. Eating carbs at night will make you fat
Wrong! Carbohydrates, in their natural form such as quinoa, oats, brown & wild rice, buckwheat, even wholewheat bread & pasta are amazing for your body and brain. They're packed with vitamins such as iron and zinc plus they keep you full for longer due to the high amounts of fiber. White rice, pasta & bread which are processed foods have much less vitamins and fiber which makes them a less healthy option, though not fattening (there is not food alone that makes you fat).
THE TRUTH: eating more calories throughout the day than the calories you burn will cause weight gain. Wondering why you're not losing weight? Click here.
Also, reaching out for that cookie or doughnut won't necessarily cause weight gain but these "foods" are high in calories and don't contribute to your health at all. If you crave them have them as a treat every now and then.