10 Health & Fitness Myths Debunked {Part 2}

If you haven’t checked out Part 1 to the series, go ahead and do so now. Part 1

Without further ado, here is part 2!

Build up of lactic acid causes muscle soreness

This myth was cracked by science a long time ago.  The soreness you feel after strenuous exercise is not due to lactic acid accumulation in muscles.  In fact, the lactic acid is flushed out within a couple hours of exercise cessation.  The discomfort in your muscles is referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and is typically experienced 24-72 hours post exercise. The discomfort is the result of microtears in your muscles.  These tears in the muscle fibers lead to slight swelling of the muscles the next day. However, your body is very good at adapting to new stimuli, and in this case, your muscles come back stronger by rebuilding.

Lifting Weights Stunts Growth

I remember discussing this in high school.  Although some kids who were lifting from an early age believed this, I knew it wasn’t true.  I don’t know how I knew to disregard this bogus statement, but I just did.  The only way weightlifting can stunt growth is if someone damages the growth plate in their bone.  This is extremely unlikely and would really only happen during a major accident. You should be fine as long as you’re using common sense in the gym and are illustrating safe and proper technique.  Also, try not to over exert yourself to the point where you injure yourself like this guy.

Weight bearing activities promote bone growth and density.  Lifting weights can be extremely beneficial for young athletes, provided they have proper training and a coach who knows what they’re doing.

My one piece of advice: become a master of your own bodyweight, and then start throwing on the weight.  And when I say master, I don’t mean have the ability to do 20 pushups.

Organic and Natural foods are better for you

 This one is a bit tricky, and causes confusion mainly because there are no strict definitions of terms organic and natural. No foods you eat are completely natural, unless you’re killing animals and cooking them in your backyard, or are growing your own vegetables.  For foods to be labelled as ‘natural’, they have to be minimally processed and must be free from synthetic preservatives and artificial sweeteners. As you can imagine though, producers and marketers are constantly finding loopholes in the system – it’s all about marketing and tying certain labels to products in order to get them to sell, or perhaps be the new hot topic (i.e. organic foods)

Organic foods get even more complicated.  The emphasis is placed on the processing of the food (i.e. food must be grown and processed without growth hormone, cattle must roam free, etc.) There are different types of organic foods including,

-Organic

-100% Organic

-Made with organic ingredients

These three labels all have differing criteria.

An important factor to consider is that there is a lack of scientific evidence that ‘organic foods’ are inherently better.  Eating organic food won’t kill you, and it does seem to promote the use of smarter and safer production of food; however, don’t bend over backwards to fill your grocery cart with this labelled food. It will be more expensive and the benefits aren’t outrageously in your favour.  You’ll be fine if you stick with fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, tofu, etc.)

*For a more in-depth look at organic and natural foods, check out this article by Jordan Syatt

T-Nation Article:  The Difference Between Organic and Natural

Stretch Before You Exercise

This seems to be the ever-lasting myth surrounding exercise. There is actually NO scientific evidence supporting the fact the stretching leads to a decrease in injuries.  In fact, static stretching (holding the stretch) is highly disadvantageous in terms of athletic performance.  Static stretching leads to a decrease in power, strength, and overall manliness.

“Ok, so should I stop stretching???”

 Well, not exactly.  Stop static stretching in preparation for physical activity.  Carrying out dynamic stretches, where you put joints and muscles through a range of motion to prep them for exercise is a good idea.  Remember the old saying, “Practice like you play”.  It seems smart to put our bodies through movements we’ll be carrying out in the upcoming activity, right?

You need to increase the weight in order to improve

With the principle of Progressive Overload being so dominant in the weightlifting community, we assume that adding weight to the bar is your best chance at seeing real gains.  We need to keep in mind that there are alternatives to simply adding weight.  If two weeks ago, you did 225lbs for 8reps, shoot for 10.  For some exercises, time your set, and simply go for more time.  You can decrease your rest time, or even eliminate rest time between sets to improve conditioning.

If you really want to improve at something – let’s say bench press – take a step back and focus on your assisting work.  Improve your back strength, focus on shoulder mobility and health and you’ll find your numbers will likely improve on the bench.  I’ve heard of guys improving their bench 50+ lbs by never doing the actual exercise. I’m sure there are people that have improved it much more than 50lbs as well.  It’s all about smart training.  It’s important to not force something, especially when you aren’t seeing improvements.  You aren’t going to experience gains and you’ll likely hurt yourself.   My buddy Jack Coulson briefly talks about this in his post, Train Harder Not Smarter. Check out Jack’s site as he puts out some pretty useful stuff.

That’s it for now.  Now that you’ve got me thinking about assisting work, I think my next post will be about my favourite exercises to help with the deadlift. I love deadlifting in case you didnt know.

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2 Comments on “10 Health & Fitness Myths Debunked {Part 2}”

  1. keemosabi November 28, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    im enjoying the posts, keep up the good work – keemosabi

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