Killing the myths about exercise

There seems to be many myths and misconceptions about exercise. Some have propagated because of long-held beliefs while others are just convenient reasons to avoid certain types of exercise. But for each of these myths, there’s research to the contrary. So it’s time to learn the truth and train smarter and more effectively than ever.

Myth: Strengthen your stabilisers will promote correct movement patterns.

For example, strengthening Glute Medius for someone who has trouble standing on one leg will help them develop sufficient strength to stabilise themselves in that pattern (single leg stance, walking or running)

Reality: Stabilisers do what they do not because they are strong but because they are fast. Simply strengthening a single muscle or muscle group “3 sets of 10, of abduction” without addressing the pattern will not work, it will not change the millisecond firing necessary for the glute medius to stabilise the hip, so the hip flexor and “big” glute can drive it forward or backward. People make the mistake of applying big strength exercises to little stabilising muscles, when in reality they do not respond to “strength training”. Train the movement, NOT the muscle.

Myth: Weight training is only for young people

Reality: Weight training is important for many populations, from athletes striving for better performance to managing the effects of menopause, and is vital for treating many injuries and diseases

Myth: No Pain No Gain

Reality: Exercise does not need to hurt to be good for you. Delayed onset muscle soreness, when muscle pain occurs up to 48 hours after exercise, results from inflammation and microscopic tears in the elastic tissues that surround muscle fibers. To give muscles time to adapt, its important not to do too much too soon, or you will risk injury.

Myth: Weight training will bulk you up

Reality: Many women use this excuse to avoid weight training. What they don’t realise is that weight training can often be one of the easiest and quickest ways for women to lose body fat and increase muscle definition.

Myth: Women should focus on high reps/low weight because heavy weight training will make them look like Arnie

Reality: People associate females who strength-train with the female bodybuilders pictured in bodybuilding magazines. Professional female bodybuilders usually resemble men because of the massive amount of anabolic, androgenic drugs they consume. Plus they train all day long. However, these “females” shouldn’t be confused with drug-free women who incorporate resistance training into their fitness programs.

1) Much of the difference in muscle mass between males and females is attributed to hormones, specifically, Testosterone. On average, men produce ten times more Testosterone than females. Unless you’re a female who’s taking anabolic steroids or other male hormones, lifting weights will not make you look like a man! It’s actually harder for most females to build muscle compared to their male counterparts.

2) There’s also a difference in muscle mass distribution between men and women, especially in the upper body. If you do build a significant amount of muscle, you still won’t look masculine.

Myth: Strength training will stunt the growth of children.

Reality: It still amazes me that parents won’t hesitate to get their young children (6-7 years old) involved in sports such as football, gymnastics, basketball and soccer, yet they feel that participating in a strength-training program is damaging to their children’s bone health and will stunt their growth.

Myth: You can achieve your weekly dosage of exercise by casual walking

Reality: Walking is a very mild form of exercise, making it gentle on joints, but it doesn’t place much demand on muscles and heart/lung function. It won’t build strength and it’ll take huge doses to burn any significant calories. According to the National Physical Activity Guidelines, you’ll need 3 1/2 hours of brisk walking each week just to meet their minimum recommended levels. But your 30-minute walk around the neighborhood is far less effective than a 10-minute run over the same distance…and takes three times as long.

Written by

Travis Waite

Trav is a Physiotherapist with an Exercise Science background who specialises in shoulder injuries and gym-based rehab. He believes that injury rehab is an opportunity to work on performance and to emerge better than before you were injured.

Travis Waite