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11 Exercise & Diet Myths
by Justin Leonard
UPDATED October 20, 2004
Written on May 19, 2003

11. When it comes to protein supplements, I should look for the one with the highest amount of protein per serving.

Fact: For many, the manufacturer's serving suggestions are too much for the average person to consume at once. More isn't necessarily better in this case. Additionally, you're not really getting more or less with a particular brand. They're all comparable. Meaning, a protein supplement that has 42 grams of protein per serving may only give you more because there's a bigger measuring scoop. Or the serving suggestion may require two scoops instead of one.

10. High reps are best for muscular definition. Low reps help to build mass.

Fact: A variety of different exercise training methods will give you the best results when combined with a scientifically balanced diet.

9. A meal full of carbohydrates will give me the most energy during my workout.

Fact: A meal with too many carbohydrates can significantly slow your performance. Instead, a small amount of low glycemic foods such as apples or oatmeal will help to sustain energy levels during your workout.

8. No pain, no gain.

Fact: Exercise should never be painful. If it is, you'll run the risk of injury as a result of overtraining. Once you enter the "overtraining zone", you could experience physiological and mental stress which can eventually lead to a number of health-related problems.

7. If my body requires 2000 calories per day, I should just eat 5 meals at 400 calories each, right?

Fact: No. Instead, consider the zig-zag method for dieting. This technique involves eating fewer calories when your physical activity levels are low, and more calories as you become more active.

6. Supplements are ineffective and a complete waste of money.

Fact: True, many supplements are. However, "nutritional" supplements can significantly improve health. This is true especially if your diet lacks certain food groups/nutrients. The benefits include strength, energy, mental sharpness, immunity from disease, elevated mood, and more!

5. The longer I train in the gym, the more weight I'll lose [or gain].

Fact: The longer you're in the gym, the more "muscle" you'll tear down. This is an unhealthy way to lose [or gain] weight. Once your body enters a catabolic state, you will more than likely experience an energy deficit and eventually a plateau. A plateau is an inability to progress in training. It can last for months. To be safe, consider only working out for about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours max.

4. Health food store employees should be sought for supplement advice.

Fact: Most health food store employees are not professionals. The only requirement to get hired is to know retail sales. If you ask them for advice, nine times out of ten they'll point you to the product that pays the highest commission. Many health food store employees won't or can't show you a product that scientifically offers the most benefit to the consumer.

3. A pro bodybuilder is my best source for training and nutrition advice.

Fact: Never. Many are impressive in their physical appearance because of genetics and hard work. They may not necessarily have scientific explanations as to how they got that way. With the right genetics, you can actually train and diet incorrectly and still build a tremendous amount of muscle. Instead seek trained professionals.

2. A doctor is my best source for training advice.

Fact: Not necessarily. Unless a doctor has hands on training in the gym, they shouldn't advise. Many fitness-related questions can only be answered from those who have actually "been there." 

1. I can focus on my lower abs by doing leg lifts.

Fact: In fact, the centermost region of the abs, which is scientifically referred to as the rectus abdominis, functions as only one muscle. As such, you cannot target the lower portion of the abs. Surprisingly, traditional crunches will effectively train the entire abdominal region. Not convinced? Here's a test: 1) Lie in the crunch position on the floor. 2) Place your hand on the "lower abs." 3) Now slowly lift the shoulders off the ground and contract your abs. Did you feel it? The entire rectus abmominis muscle contracts at the same time.

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