De-Mythifying 3 Top Fitness Myths

I'd like to start things off with a challenge: say the name of this post 5 times fast.

If you were able to accomplish it, then you're a better orator than I....if not?  Well, you're still (probably) a good person.

Anyway, as lifting heavy things is sorta "my thing" I wanted to take a post to dispel three top myths I hear on a regular basis.  If you already know what I've written below, then more power to you.  And if any of it is a surprise?  Well, in the words of current star of the Bachelor star, Juan Pablo, it's OK.

OK, on with the show..

Myth #1: Lactic acid is responsible for "the burn," and henceforth shall be deemed the devil.

Eh, not so much.  You see, the world THOUGHT lactic acid caused muscle burn many years ago, and while it was busted back in 2006, it's still popular in the fitness community.

This myth has its roots in an experiment conducted in the 1920's, by a German scientist who performed some cruel experiments on frogs.  In essence, he would cut the frogs in half and then perform experiments on the lower portion by shocking them until their muscles stopped moving.  To his surprise, these muscles were bathed in lactic acid. (I know what you're thinking, "experiments on helpless frogs, now that IS German!")

Consider this diagram your "nerdification" for the day.

Consider this diagram your "nerdification" for the day.

Since then, however, our technology has grown quite a bit and lactic acid has actually been revealed to be food for your muscles.  In fact, when your body is producing lactic acid, anything that is not readily used by your muscles is taken by your bloodstream back to your liver in order to be converted for food down the line.

So, what does cause that burning sensation when you're exerting yourself?  It now looks like it's actually from a build up of hydrogen atoms during the Krebs cycle, which lowers the pH of that area.

Myth #2: Heavy weights are scary, since they make you bulky

I'll share a secret with you: most of the men that are jacked out of their face, aren't really that strong.  The same guys don't move well, and if you ask them about their deadlift, it's probably lacking big time.

If a trainer ever suggests you go this route, smack them with a barbell.

If a trainer ever suggests you go this route, smack them with a barbell.

So why do they look like that?  It's because they want to....and it's because they use light weights for a TON of reps.

Wait, what?

You read that correctly.  The majority of the "at-home" or traditional gym workouts that are given to men and women in this country are built on a bodybuilding model. What makes muscles grow in the gym is a focus on volume, meaning: the total amount of reps you do in a workout.  If you're trying to lose weight, get stronger, or get leaner, use heavy weights for low reps. Why? The difference is sarcoplasmic versus myofibrillar hypertrophy.

Furthermore, some women are terrified at the idea of even looking at a weight over 8 pounds, as if it will somehow make their muscles grow through osmosis.  As someone with experience in this field, I can tell you first hand that women have to put in twice the effort to see half the results that men do in the muscle building department (and, that's even IF muscle building is actually a priority).  I've yet to have someone tell me that they can't lift heavy because their arms or legs are "too big." Anecdotally, the strongest women I know also tend to be the thinnest.

So yes, you can use light weights, but it all comes down to the purpose.  Why are you using them, and what is your goal?  If it's to get strong and lean, put them down in favor of some heavy squats and deadlifts.  

Myth #3: Eating protein immediately after a workout will help me make gains, dominate the world, and make people love me.


While I can't speak to the last two, I've always called into question the whole "metabolic window" after a workout.  For those that are unfamiliar, there's an argument in the industry that after your workout is the best time to consume protein and carbohydrates as it will help you get the most out of your training session.

For the past year, I've really discovered this not to be the case, as I've paid little attention to what I eat immediately before and after a workout, in favor of making sure my diet is full of whole foods.  Sure enough, yesterday I found that Precision Nutrition posted an article on the topic of nutrient timing, which can be super useful for many people out there.  Click here to read it.

If you don't have time to read it, the article discusses how nutrient timing is only important once you've mastered the larger aspects of a good diet.  So, if you're picking up that protein shake after a workout, I'd suggest you put it down in favor of some lean proteins and vegetables!