Myths and Follies of Working Out (Discouraged and Debunked!)

Weight lifter with chicken legs and counting off reps.

The Chicken Leg Creature
Derivative by Jay Ray

Written by Jay Ray

There’s a good chance that what you think you know about working out is wrong. It’s not your fault; many of these misconceptions have been passed along by coaches, workout buddies, or are just so entrenched as “common knowledge” that they are taken on faith. A lot of it is just bad advice and myths. Now, we go to school.

When lifting weights, three sets of ten to twelve repetitions is the way forward, right? Wrong. There is no empirical evidence that this almost universal approach is optimal. In fact, the method/myth originated from the advice of Ian MacQueen , a British surgeon and competitive body builder, in a scientific journal he published in 1954. To him, I say: bollocks. The best way to flatline gains in strength and mass is to stick to the same routine. Bottom line: muscles adapt to routines and then they plateau. To prevent this self-sabotage, switch things up every two or three weeks: do more weight with fewer reps or do more reps with less weight. The important thing it to, while still able to maintain good form to avoid injury, push muscles to exhaustion with each set. For results, the way reputations are performed is as important as the weight hoisted. Check out these tips for varied repetition techniques to “shock” the muscles.

Oh, how dreadful the Chicken Leg creature. He lurks about the gym, cartoonishly top-heavy while strutting around on a pair of matchsticks. What the Chicken Leg creature fails to realize is that if he invested some effort into his legs, he wouldn’t have to work so hard to sculpt his upper body; working the legs boosts production of testosterone, which is the muscle-building hormone. Ladies, I realize this is male specific advice, so, for that, I apologize. But we all benefit from the beautification of a landscape sans the Chicken Leg freak. (Note: this is not an indictment against skinny legs but a commentary on the silliness of only focusing on the upper body. Whatever the natural physique, pay attention to the entirety of it; symmetry is the key).

If I want a six-pack, I have to go to the sit-up store, right? Not really, so save your money. To tighten up the gut, focus more on heart rate than crunches. In order to burn fat, you have to break a sweat. High-intensity cardiovascular exercises are going to bring more results than jackknifing yourself all day. Seriously, sit-ups might tone the stomach muscles, but what good does that do if they lie under a cover of gut? Exercises like running or working out on an elliptical machine involve lifting the legs, which engages the stomach muscles — so these burn fat and tone the tummy. One of the best motivations for aerobic exercises is that the cursed sit-up can be avoided.

When it comes to running to burn fat, the only reason to run long distances is if you enjoy running long distances. Though there is an inclination to believe that a ten-mile run will shed more unwanted weight than a two-mile run, it just isn’t necessarily so. While the long-distance runner is certainly burning calories, those calories can actually be coming from muscle mass. I prefer long-distance running, but the truth is that sprinting burns more body fat and is better for maintaining muscle mass than long distance running.

And that concludes today’s session. Ding Ding.


Posted on April 25, 2012, in Body Building, Build Muscle, Exercise, Fitness, Fitness and Nutrition, Natural Physique, Physical Health, Self Confidence, Sports, Work Out and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Education is an excellent approach for your column. As a writer, it suits you.

    That bring said, I am SO relieved at no longer having to jack knife myself around the gym.

    • Thank you, Carrie. I value your opinions on writing. Also, I’m glad you enjoyed the post — and that your jackknifing days are in the rearview.

  2. These are actually some good tips. Switching up your workouts is essential to breaking through plateaus, and working legs will help make your whole body stronger. Good post!

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