Fitness myths. Oh boy, could I spend three blue moons talking about the folklore that seems to populate the fitness industry, especially when it comes to women. Truth is, with the advent of the internet, one would have hoped that many fitness myths would have been dispelled by now but, instead, plenty of fitness myths have continued to snowball to the point that every time I have a new person approaching me for fitness coaching, I have to spend practically one hour convincing him/her that much of what he/she has been brainwashed to believe is wrong. Blank faces are a commonality in this scenario and I have learnt to read in between the lines and know what the individual wants, despite coming to me with a brainwashed brain that would be best reset when it comes to fitness myths and knowledge!
Somebody please facepalm me…
Today, I would like to address 5 huge fitness myths specifically for females that continue to this day and which continue to mislead women when it comes to improving their body. I have had some emails from my female readers with fitness questions and I am aware that Manly Curls is becoming a reference for curly women too, which I think is super cool and I welcome it! Likewise, this is not the first time that I become a Skeptical Hippo as I have dispelled the scam of those Sketchy Shape Ups shoes before, which was an eye-opening article for many of you guys and girls alike. Moreover, my latest article on hot curly women has received positive attention from you girls with curls so I feel that writing another article for my female readers is a good idea. For you, curly men, do continue reading the following busting of fitness myths as it will give you the knowledge to help the women in your life in improving their physique (regardless of straight or curly hair!).
Oh, fitness myths…I think it is time for one of those Skeptical Hippo moments
When it comes to fitness myths, I find that women have it worse than men here, for the fitness industry is still relatively fresh to women and there is just too much money involved in the industry to keep propelling myths and hearsay. At Manly Curls we don’t like bullcrap so, ladies (and gents), let’s kick these fitness myths where the sun don’t shine!
MYTH NUMBER 1: “Using weights will get me bulky”
This one is a pet peeve of mine and I feel that it is a must to address this specific myth first. “Getting bulky” translates to an irrational fear of using weights and turning into a a female version of He-Man overnight. Luckily, this is an unfounded fear because when it comes to building muscle mass, there are several factors which are imperative and one of them is testosterone. You ladies have about 1/10 of the testosterone levels of us men which automatically put you at a disadvantage when it comes to building muscle mass. Couple this with higher estrogen levels and not having as much of an optimal muscle-building response to weight training as men do, and you have a recipe for very small muscle gains, even if you hit the weights hard for many years on end.
“Yo, what up bro” said the old muscular man with a wig
Just because you have seen on TV a muscular lady with huge muscles resembling a beefed up shemale, it doesn’t mean that you too will attain that look by pumping some iron. In most cases, what you have seen is a female bodybuilder and female bodybuilding as a physical activity requires years of hard dedicated training, specific nutrition, the right genetic make-up (e.g higher than normal testosterone levels) and, in many cases, the use of exogenous substances such as steroids that level female bodybuilders with men when it comes to building muscle. Unless you are one of these women and want to dedicate yourself to bodybuilding, you will never look beefy enough to intimidate nightclub bouncers if you merely stick to weight training. You have my word for what I have just written (and I have trained enough muscle-gifted female athletes to back my statement).
Using the right weight training approach as a female will build small amounts of precious muscle mass in the right places such as the back, buttocks, legs and shoulders. Weight training will also help you improve your posture, become stronger with a valuable transfer of strength to your daily activities, raise your metabolism, help you lose fat and it will make you more attractive. Too many benefits to not use weight training as part of a plan for optimal health and beauty.
I, Rogelio, give you my word that no amount of weight training will have you looking like the “beast” on the left (nor the “man” on the right)
If you lift weights and don’t touch steroids, you get to look like this
MYTH NUMBER 2: “Losing weight equates to visible aesthetic improvements”
Just because the scale fluctuates and someone has lost 3 pounds, that doesn’t mean that said person will look better nor have lost that amount in terms of aesthetic weight loss (i.e fat). It is important to note that weight loss can be made up of fat but can also be made up of water, muscle, glycogen and more, especially in the beginning stages of a diet. In fact, if you were to lose a pint of blood you would instantly weight less, that is how silly it is to believe that weight loss itself will translate to an improvement in body shape.
What you want to lose is fat mass and this is best gauged with a measuring tape together with the weighing scale. Losing fat equates to a visible improvement in body shape (i.e aesthetic weight loss) and is what anyone seeking weight loss should be truly aiming for (except in morbidly obese cases). You should strive to lose fat (what I call aesthetic weight loss) via an intelligent fitness approach incorporating weight training, cardiovascular exercise and optimal nutrition. Please ingrain this in your brain because many women go wrong here: you want to LOSE FAT, not lose weight.
Losing weight is not equal to losing aesthetic weight!
MYTH NUMBER 3: “But I just want to tone”
Allright, I am going to break it to you right here right now: there is no such thing as “toning”. There, I’ve said it.
You can tone your thighs as much as you can tone your aesophagus, that is, you don’t “tone” your muscles, much less if you are using silly exercises as the “toning” crowd would have you believe you need. Toning is not a specific means, it is, rather, an end/consequence of doing things right.
You see, when people talk about “toning” they are actually referring to the aesthetic visible effect of increased muscle mass and decreased fat accumulation. To put it in very basic terms, the body has two modes each when it comes to dealing with your muscle and fat stores: it increases or decreases them, and it does so according to training or nutritional stimulus. I am solid proof, as I documented at Manly Curls, that optimal training and perfect nutrition leading to muscle growth and fat loss yields a toned body and works for both men and women alike, just see for yourself below!
Take your arms, for instance.
Stand up, raise your right arm until it is parallel to the floor with the palm of the hand facing up and, now, pinch the skin where the tricep area is located (the area in your upper arm opposite facing the floor).
Move the skin around.
That which you are moving is fat.
Now use your index finger to press gently against the skin. The solid surface which you are now encountering and pressing against is muscle. Basically, the area of your body where the tricep muscle region is located is composed of fat and muscle (among other tissues not relevant to this article). The rest of your body follows the same pattern, fat covers the muscle (in different amounts depending on the body region).
With the above, I am trying to make you understand that you have muscle and you have fat. Muscle can either increase (hypertrophy) or decrease (atrophy) and fat stores can decrease in size (fat loss) or increase in size (fat gain). Read this again and pay attention as to how I have never used the term “tone” to depict these physiologic processes. This is because “toning” is merely the visible result of increased muscle mass and decrease fat storing. So, if you want to tone said right arm, increase its muscle mass and decrease the fat layer covering it. As simple as eating an orange so, from now on, only use the word “tone” to describe colors, ok? (I must say, however, that there is such a thing as “muscle tone” but it refers to nerve impulses and is unrelated to body aesthetics and its use in fitness talk).
She is smiling because you just paid her $80 for her snake-oil DVD showing you how to do useless toning exercises
MYTH NUMBER 4: “I want to spot reduce”
I have put this one following Myth Number 3 as they are both connected. Again, let me put it bluntly: you cannot spot reduce! You cannot tell your body to reduce a bit from here and a bit from there, I don’t care what the confident guy in that late night infomercial tells you or what the Smiling Personal Trainer at your gym claims as he gives you his business card.
The body likes to use fat stores as it desires and your fat distribution (where your bodyfat is deposited) and mobilization (where from your body removes fat) is determined genetically. All you can do is make the process easier for your body by encouraging the loss of fat which will then allow the body to reduce fat from the areas which are determined to be used at that moment in time. You encourage the loss of fat with a mix of weight training, aerobic exercise and optimal nutrition.
As a rule of thumb, the first place in which you get fat first is the last to go when you try to lose fat. For women, this means the hip area as well as the thighs (for men it’s the love handles and lower abdominal area), which in turn translates to having to stick to a long-term intelligent fat loss plan if you specifically want to lose fat in the hard-to-lose-fat areas such as the hips and thighs. There are no shortcuts, I’m afraid, only smart and optimal approaches.
A beloved fat cell which loves pizza and donuts
MYTH NUMBER 5: “If you do weight training, you should do a bazillion reps”
I always pair the debunking of this myth with the “toning” myth. Smiling Personal Trainer with a colorful badge tells you to do 100 crunches to tone the mid-section or to do endless repetitions of broomstick twists to define and shape the abs (for the record, never do an exercise which has you dramatically twisting your torso as this puts your back at risk of injury).
Doing a trillion reps of an exercise is as useful as doing leg splits to spot reduce your thighs. Again, going back to Myth number 3, your body either increases muscle/fat stores, or decreases muscle/fat stores. Doing an exercise with very high reps will not build muscle and will not actively promote fat loss other than via increasing calorie expenditure. Muscle mass is built, in both males and females alike, with a repetition range which goes from 1 up to 20 repetitions and after that, the body will activate other paths to deal with the exercise in a non-muscle building manner (aerobic approach). In other words ladies, you are wasting your time if you are not using weight training as a way to actively promote muscle gains and doing your exercises with a rep range between 1 and 20 repetitions.
The fitness industry thrives on designing stupid gadgets around silly premises
Initially, if you are out of shape and the last time you exercised was when you were in high school, you will benefit minorly from very high repetitions and the body will build very small amounts of muscle accordingly. After the initial period of adaptation, you will have to view weight training as a powerful tool to build aesthetic amounts of muscle (go back to Myth Number 1 if you are still unsure) and you will have to stick to the aforementioned exercise repetition range of 1 to 20 repetitions. Of course, there is more to this, such as weight load or choice of exercise, but weight training should only be performed in that rep range if the goal is to achieve an improvement in body shape. Full freaking stop.
Women in Olympic weightlifting train with heavy weights and low repetition ranges yet look healthy, fit and feminine
There are many more myths which plenty of females are unfortunate to be misled with. For the time being, however, I would like to leave you curly girls with the busting of these 5 fitness myths and hope that my words have brought you some constructive fitness sense and motivation. For you, men with curly hair, apply some of the relevant advice and pass this article to the women in your life who want to make a positive change in their life, let’s keep the positive vibes and energy flowing!
All the best.