5 Common Fitness Myths – And What We Think About Them
The term myth that we are referring to today is “a widely held but false belief or idea.” Here at the gym, we often get asked questions about fitness concepts and trends that are going around out there – many of them of which we believe are fitness myths. Today, we’re going to talk about 5 of them.
1. What is Crossfit? And what does Crossfit South Bend do?
CrossFit could be a lot of things – and there is often some confusion around what it actually is. CrossFit here is different from CrossFit down the street, and CrossFit on the other side of the country.
CrossFit.com defines CrossFit as “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” There is a high emphasis on variety, “functional movements,” and the intensity (effort) level is intended to be high, relative to the person.
An important point to also note is that CrossFit gyms are affiliated – meaning, they are not governed by CrossFit or enforced to do fitness a particular way – rather, all each gym has to do is pay a yearly fee to have the CrossFit name on their wall, and how they go about everything else is up to the individual gym.
So how does a CrossFit gym come up with their workouts then?
The programming (training plan) that a gym delivers to its members is highly variable from gym to gym. A few different approaches are as follows:
- CrossFit’s Theoretical Template – This method isolates or combines different training modalities on a 3 on, 1 off schedule. These modalities are Monostructural (M), Gymnastics (G), Weightlifting (W).
What this looks like in programming: M day one, M + G day 2, M + G + W day three, rest day 4, G day 5, G + W day 6, G + W + M day 7, etc.
- Outsource to another CrossFit affiliate – The gym follows along with another gym’s programming. Some popular ones are CrossFit.com, Invictus, Mayhem, and CompTrain.
- They write their own programming
What does CFSB do?
We program for our group classes in a way that reflects who is in our gym and why they are coming here in the first place. Most of our clients are not looking to compete in the sport of CrossFit – rather, they’re looking to be healthier, have better energy, look good naked, and decrease general aches and pains, and support them in what they do outside of the gym walls.
In principle, what this training looks like is a balance of challenging resistance training (patterns) and aerobic (pacing) scenarios. The complexity of the movements inside of these are relatively low. Meaning, you will not see much olympic weightlifting movements like snatches or complex gymnastics like muscle-ups. Although these things may be fun, in reality, these are earned by developing a base of characteristics that allow one to express these safely and effectively. And, not to mention, these aren’t needed for most people’s day-to-day function. There are a lot of simpler and more effective ways to enhance that.
2. Common Myths around Losing Weight
“CrossFit isn’t good for weight loss”
This may or may not be true depending on the person who is looking to lose weight. We would need to color this question with more information before we can actually answer if group training would be a good/bad option for losing weight. For starters: who are you and how much weight do you have to lose? There is a big difference from going from 8% to 6% body fat and 30% to 20% body fat.
“Abs = healthy”
Short answer, no. A healthy bodyfat % will fall inside of a range. Too low or too high, there are ill health effects.
“You can out-train a bad diet”
For some time, this may work. However, eventually, it will catch up to you. What we recommend instead is a more holistic and sustainable approach to nutrition and exercise:
- Lower stress
- Quality strength training
- Easy aerobic work / daily movement
- Quality + quantity of sleep – adults should aim for 7-9 hours
- Drink water – 50% of your bodyweight in ounces is a good place to start
- Get sunshine – vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body, and triggers a cascade of positive health benefits.
- Find a balance of quality and quantity of foods that works well for you and your goals.
3. HIIT is good for weight loss
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This is a method of training that involves short, intense bouts of exercise, followed by short rests, repeated for a certain amount of sets or time.
With regards to HIIT and weight loss, let’s take a step back and break this idea down:
HIIT is a form of exercise. Exercise works because the body responds and adapts to stress. HIIT is stressful – so you’ll see metabolic adaptations very quickly.
This being said, high stress can only be maintained for so long. In the context of general population clients – there are a lot of other stressors going on in their lives that makes HIIT a less-than ideal option.
We believe it is a better play to keep this in extremely small doses, if at all. Too much intensity, for too long, can lead to:
- metabolic disruption from prolonged stress
- loss in mental acuity (brain fog)
- low energy
- poor libido
- poor sleep
- compensatory patterns such as relying on caffeine to get through the day, and long-term inconsistency with exercise
All that being said, who might benefit from HIIT?
Assuming their life is set up to support proper recovery from it, functional fitness competitors, combat sports, and marathon runners, to name a few, could find some benefit from including HIIT into their training. The dosing of this would be relative to the person and what their sport requires.
4. CrossFit will get you a “man body”
I think what was meant here is that a female will gain a lot of lean muscle and look manly by doing CrossFit.
Most likely, this image is coming from competitive CrossFit athletes. These athletes require lots of training volume over time, and the athletes we are seeing are the 1% of the population that can handle this volume (because of training and genetics) – because their sport demands them to do so.
It’s important to discuss what it takes to actually grow muscle – it doesn’t just happen overnight, and rarely does it happen unintentionally. There are many factors at play in this process. To keep it brief, you need prerequisite strength to build lean muscle mass – meaning, you need to be capable of breaking down muscle and then recovering and adapting for more volume. In addition, your biological age, sex, training age, and genetics will all affect your ability to break down and build muscle tissue. For example, think about the difference between a 17 year old male vs. a 63 year old female who are lifting weights – their potential for, and their ability to put on, muscle mass are very different.
It takes a lot of things in place to build muscle. If you are a female, and don’t want to get bulky, it is safe to say that you most likely will not – you would need to have all of the right ducks in a row in order for this to be a possibility.
You may be wondering then, why even lift weights, if not to get bulky?
A few good reasons are to build strength, increase bone mineral density, increase confidence, and to be able to maintain function in all movement patterns throughout life.
5. CrossFit will get you injured
Let’s talk about the different ways in which people could get injured in exercise:
- A previous injury. This can lead to altered movement patterns and compensation – limitations or changes in motor control that lead to asymmetry in motion (meaning, they do not have balance in movement from left-to-right or side-to-side or they move differently because of the previous injury)
- Increased BMI – greater body weight relative to height.
- High risk taking behaviors.
- Poor Lifestyle – sleeps 5 hours, eats processed foods, doesn’t drink water, sits all day, etc.
- Doing movements outside of their capabilities. This could look like doing movements too fast, at too much volume (reps/sets), and/or doing a movement that is too complex for their current capabilities.
For example – per the gymnastics and olympic weightlifting conversations – a person comes to you and:
- Can’t pass a scratch test (shoulder mobility) but wants to snatch overhead
- Can’t do a strict pull up but wants to kip
- Can’t do a toe touch but wants to do TNG power cleans from the floor
If you do not have the prerequisite mobility, stability, and strength that is required for a particular movement, you are setting yourself up for potential injury.
How do I not get injured then?
If you follow a balanced, principally-sound program, keep movement within your capabilities, and you take care of yourself outside of the gym, the likelihood of injury is very low.
There you have it. We touched on a few fitness myths we often receive questions about. If you want to know more about a particular topic or have other questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
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