Common Fitness Advice You Should Avoid

Every day, you are bombarded with an absurd amount of health and fitness advice. And, frustratingly, most of it contradicts itself. One “expert” might tell you that this specific food will fix everything that ails you, while another insists that it’s the worst possible thing you could put in your body.

So, how does anybody know what do to? To help you sort through all of this nonsense, here are three bits of common – but wrong – fitness advice that you should avoid.

1 – Heavy Weights Make You Bulky

This myth simply will not die. No matter how many studies are published or how many articles are written, it persists. Just to be clear, I’m ranting about the idea that in order to build big muscles, you have to lift as heavy as possible. Very closely related is the concept that lean muscles are the result of working with light weights and high reps.

In short, the opposite is true. To noticeably build muscle fiber, you need to put them through a significant amount of work so that the muscles are damaged and need to be rebuilt. This is best done with relatively low weights, keeping yourself to a rep range of about 8 to 10. Heavier weights – those that restrict you to 5-or-so reps will build strength but not size. They are different.

It’s also important to point out that nutrition and genetics both play a huge role in deciding whether or not you get bulky. To build big ol’ muscles, your body needs to have plenty of extra calories available to it. So, even if you were performing a workout designed to develop mass, it’s just not going to work if your diet isn’t also specifically designed.

2 – Avoid White Foods

Generally speaking, many health and fitness myths are simply based on oversimplifications. And the idea that all white foods are to be avoided is no different. While it’s true that lots of high-glycemic index foods are white as a result of being refined, there isn’t anything inherently evil about white foods.

Actually, if you were to strictly follow this “no white food” rule, you’d be denying yourself some pretty fantastic meals. Cauliflower, for example, is a slow carbohydrate that is rich in vitamins and minerals. But it’s also white. Mushrooms, garlic, beans, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage, and tofu are other extremely healthful foods that just happen to be white.

3 – The Smith Machine Is Safer

For those who are unaware, the Smith Machine is a common piece of gym equipment that provides the user with both guidance and assistance on a variety of exercises. While there are tons of different versions, the basic Smith Machine essentially looks like a barbell on rails.

The idea behind this machine is to allow exercisers a chance to lift heavy weights while automatically keeping their form strict. Unfortunately, this sort of backfires.

Because of all of the safeties employed by these machines, your range of motion is restricted to the point of being unnatural. During squats, for example, users tend to lean back against the bar of the Smith Machine, shifting their balance in a way that would be impractical, impossible, and incredibly dangerous in any other situation.

Additionally, a 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that using the Smith Machine greatly reduces muscle activation when compared to standard free-weight movements.