No pain, no gain, don’t squat below parallel, static stretch before exercise, stay in the fat burning zone. These outdated fitness tips seem to still be prevalent in the gym, yet in reality they are equivalent to people telling me the earth is flat.
It’s just outdated and on top of it, there’s tons of evidence to support the contrary. Yet every day, somewhere, in some random gym, is someone sticking to these outdated tips for dear life.
What’s more is these outdated exercise tips and myths never go away. So I’m about to blow the roof of some of these outdated tips and give a little insight into why you should alter your ways. And hopefully save you from making at least one mistake every time you exercise.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
This is one of the biggest mistakes made in and outside of the gym. Picture an early morning runner, kids before a soccer game, or people waiting for their instructor before a class at the gym. What do you always notice people doing? Stretching. Sometimes it even looks extreme and uncomfortable.
Randomly ask one of them why they are stretching and their reply will no doubt be: “I’m warming up”. However, that is where the outdated information starts. Unfortunately, this myth has been perpetuated and passed down as general information, but did you know that this is actually counterproductive to your performance?
Muscle tension is the reason we are able to stand, walk, jump, and run. Take away that tension and now we become loose in our joints and are unable to perform with the explosiveness, coordination and precision that we need to.
Your muscles do not need to have their end range of motion tested as a warm up. What your muscles truly crave is preparation. By performing simple body weight exercises that get your blood pumping through the muscles and joints, your body will feel energized and properly warmed up for whatever activities you have in store.
Squatting Below Parallel & Knees Over the Toes
These two are combined because they basically address the same issues when it comes to squatting and/or lunging. Often these are tips recommended to people that feel pain in their knees when they do either exercise.
However, what these tips ignore is that everyone has their own unique anatomy when it comes to their hips and legs, and have their own specific ranges of motion in which they can move.
If you have a long femur and shorter tibia/fibula, it is likely that your toes are going to go over your knees. That’s just biomechanics and levers. Does it mean it’s putting stress or strain on the knee? Most likely not. Have you ever seen a picture of an Olympic lifter in the bottom of their set-up? Their knees go beyond their toes often. Again not a bad thing.
As far as squatting below parallel, everyone’s anatomy is different. As is everyone’s stance when squatting will be. The key is finding one that works best for you. But there is no reason that you can’t or shouldn’t squat, outside of a crazy injury.
In fact, after I tore my PCL in my knee, one of the first things I did was re-groove my squat by holding onto a bar. This took some of the pressure and load off my knee, but allowed me to work through ranges of motion. Slowly I progressed through different stages of getting my leg stronger, thus making my knee a lot healthier and stronger.
Going through full ranges of motion allows your muscles to work through that full range of motion. And that will lead to stronger muscles.
This One Hits My Lower Abs
How many of you work your core in sections? Or have you heard people say: “I do x crunch for my upper abs, y crunch for my lower abs, and z for my obliques.” Truth of the matter is, there is no targeting a specific part of your abs, especially if you’re still doing crunches.
The rectus abdominis, the main ab muscle that runs the length of your stomach is what people are usually referring to when they talk about x, y, & z ab exercises. However, when a muscle contracts, it does so fully, meaning the entire muscle, from origin to insertion fires. This is the “all or nothing principle” which is one thing I still remember from anatomy class.
On top of this outdated tip of doing specific crunches for lower or upper abs, doing crunches in general for a 6-pack is outdated. First, seeing your abs requires a nutrition plan that will take you down to a low percentage of body fat.
If you don’t have that in check, then it’s likely you’ll never see your “six pack.” Secondly, if you think of your core as a cylinder or a box, there are multiple sides to it. So when you do core exercises, ones that resist movement because that’s what the core is for, the entire cylinder fires, not just one specific muscle.
Pick up one heavy dumbbell or even a suit case. Everything works together to keep you upright, not just one specific muscle.
No Pain, No Gain
The age old “bro-ism” that if you’re not in pain, then you’re not gaining is overly mistaken and has probably caused many an injury in the gym. The truth of the matter is that if you’re in pain, it’s likely your body is telling you to stop or that something is wrong.
Now certain types of exercise shouldn’t be a walk in the park, no pun intended, but there’s a difference between discomfort from exertion and pain. If you’re going to squat with 200lbs on your back, there’s going to be some discomfort.
But if you’re feeling pain while doing it, you may need to take a step back, readdress your technique or analyze if there’s any restrictions in your body.
Avoid working through pain. That just creates more of a setback. I know when I’m in pain, it means I’ve done something wrong, or that I have some trigger points somewhere in my body.
For example, after several weeks of sprinting, my shins and ankles were throbbing in pain. Turns out my calves had lots of trigger points that needed to be worked out by a lacrosse ball, or by the LMT I have on staff. Either way it was a painful endeavor to get back to 100%.
Long Lean Muscles
If there was ever a marketing buzz word or phrase that was so blatantly incorrect, or meant to deceive people, this is one of them. The act of doing a particular type of exercise to build “long, lean muscles” ignores basic principles of anatomy.
Muscles have a distinct origin point where the muscle starts, and an insertion point, where the muscle ends. There is no way to make them longer outside of dramatic surgery.
What this phrase is meant to do is elevate one type of exercise that builds “long, lean” muscles, against another, in this case weightlifting, which creates “big bulky” muscles. Or that you should only do light weight for many, many reps instead of going heavier for less reps.
Instead of pitting one form of exercise against another, integrate them into one solid program. Pick a few days to do weight training using a variety of rep ranges, pick another day to do mobility and recovery, and another to do something like Pilates or yoga.
Keep a well-balanced exercise program rather than say “this is better than that.” Remember, it’s all relative towards what your goal is. Just remember, your anatomy won’t change.
The earth is round. That wasn’t always what people believed though. Knowledge came to light that caused humans to throw out the falsehood that the earth was flat. So why have we not done that in the exercise industry.
We know better now, we have new knowledge that tells us how we can better train our bodies. However, there’s still people that are we so stubbornly holding on to buzzwords, myths, and misinformation, even when the correct information is put in front of them.
Maybe they’re just stuck in their ways and in how they exercise that they don’t want to hear anything that may show them they were wrong.
It’s a crazy, mixed up world out there, and despite the abundance of information available to us, we still can’t shake off old exercise tips. Anatomy and structure don’t change, a muscle contracts fully, and pain is your body’s alert system that something is wrong.