A long time ago, back when our caveperson ancestors were amazed by a hot fire on a cold night, you had maybe one or two ways to get really, really strong. These methods boiled down to lifting heavy rocks or logs or dead animal carcasses and then carrying them a long ways back to the cave where your not-as-strong family waited for you to ensure their survival.
But as our understanding of the human body developed, fitness experts thought up thousands of ways to make our muscles huge, our lung-capacities great, and our power levels higher than ever before. Still, not all fitness tips are created equal, and recently, some of the best minds in exercise shared the worst advice they ever heard — and their thoughts are changing the way people work out!
1. The best time to workout is in the night/morning: Elite bodybuilders might argue the time of day matters, but the benefits of one time or the other don’t really affect non-competitive athletes. Just workout when your power levels are up to the task.
2. Working out is about living longer: Gym critics say all those “extra years” are wasted tossing heavy things around. To that, Rob Sulaver, founder of Bandana Training, said: “I don’t work out to live longer, I work out to live better.”
3. Exercise must hurt: The saying goes, “No pain, no gain,” but really, it should go, “no appropriate discomfort, no gain.” While working out pushes you to — and past — your limits, anything that makes you go ow is best left off your workout plan.
4. Cardio stops muscle gains: Doing light cardio work stimulates muscle gains, making you strong enough to beat even your toughest childhood friends in a fight. Too much cardio — like more than half an hour every day — can stunt your guns from getting huge, though.
5. Weightlifting makes you bulky: No one gets huge by accident. To earn those bulging, vascular muscles you see on the world’s biggest meatheads requires a fine-tuned diet where you eat more calories than you’ll find at the end of a bottomless brunch.
6. Carbohydrates are the devil: Remember all those calories you need to eat to develop meaty, dense muscles? A good portion of them come from complex carbs like whole-grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Cutting ’em out can affect your energy.
7. Carbohydrates are a godsend: Techniques like carbo-loading — eating a ton of carbs before a workout — only really help people about to expend a lot of energy over a long period of time: marathon runners, weightlifting competition entrees, etc.
8. Don’t worry about carbohydrates: “Complex and low-glycemic carbs are a proper choice for strength training, and many would argue that they should be the backbone of your daily nutrition uptake,” personal trainer James Shapiro said. “The ‘bad carbs’ are out there, but a simple word of advice: moderation.”
9. There’s only one way to do certain workouts: Injuries and disabilities aren’t an excuse to stay out of the weight room. A certified personal trainer can come up with a few different ways to do any movement, one of which will surely help you hit the intended stimulus of an exercise.
10. Do whatever works for you: On the flip side, there are most definitely incorrect ways to do certain lifts or exercises. Trying to pick up a 225-pound barbell like it’s a loaf of bread in a Walgreens parking lot will not end well for you. Technique matters.
11. You must get sweaty: A long walk can get your heart rate up and burn enough calories for you to stay healthy and lose weight. Soaked shirts aren’t a must for belt-loosening loses. Getting huge with your buddies requires a more intense stimulus, though.
12. Work out every day: When you lift something heavy, your muscles tear just a little bit; when your body repairs those tears, you end up just a little bit stronger. Hitting the weight room every day stops those repairs, leaving you wiped and weak.