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View Full Version : "Fitness Myths Busted" - BUSTED



mugaliens
2009-Mar-18, 08:32 AM
Ok, I ran this one through a friend of mine sporting a PhD in exercise physiology, and another friend who's an M.D. and an exercise/health nut. They confirmed what I suspected, pointed out a few errors I made, and lead me on the straight and narrow.

A Yahoo! Health article written by SELF Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danzinger, entitled Finess Myths Busted (http://health.yahoo.com/experts/healthieryou/8078/fitness-myths-busted/)! appears perfectly normal.

But is it?

My first clue came when she made the claim, and rightly so, that muscle does not turn into fat. But the "myth" that "muscle turns into fat" has long been understood to mean that it doesn't mean the muscle tissue itself actually turns into fat, but that lack of use, combined with weight gain (which results from lack of use), causes intramuscular fat to accumulate, as well as adds fat around the muscles. Thus, a nice, fat-free bicep becomes blubbery.

That's the first myth that was wrongly busted. There are others, and other misstatements of fact, and downright wrong information.

"...if you eat more calories than you burn, you'll gain fat." FALSE. But actually only sort of busted. Your body has an amazing ability to maintain weight at a certainly level. Thus, if you're weight has been a steady 205 pounds for a couple of years, and one day you slam an extra burger, bowl of chili, couple slices of pizza, etc., your body more or less lets that slide. Literally, it lets it slide right through you. Whereas previously your stools may have been fairly small, you'll find the next day's results are significantly different, and barely digested, leaving a lot of those calories (thankfully) elsewhere. On the other hand, if you continue to pound down the calories, your body will rapidly adjust and begin packing them on. Similarly, if you cut your caloric intake by 10%, you won't magically loose the weight equivalent of those cut calories! You body adjusts in that direction, too, and you'll find yourself leave the human equivalent of deer pellets behind.

"Reality: Three 10-minute cardio stints offer the same healthy payback as a single 30-minute one." False! When you do cardio, there's a ramp-up phase that takes several minutes, reaching equilibrium with your body somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes after you begin, depending on your body's condition level and the intensity of the exercise. This is why all fitness tests of aerobic conditioning are designed to take the measurements around the 10 min point. At the 10 minute point, you've just warmed up! And then you want to quit? Now - she's right in terms of the calories you burn, but she's not right in terms of your aerobic conditioning. However, there have been studies which prove three 20-min sets interspersed throughout the day provide better conditioning than one 60-min session, as well as that beyond 20 minutes you may be burning additional calories, but you're not gaining any additional aerobic benefit.

"Reality: Women don't have enough of the muscle-building hormone testosterone to get bulky..." Wrong! And try telling that to the girls I see in the gym, some of whom have larger and better defined muscles than myself - and they're not taking testosterone! They simple lift weights the right way to bulk up. Similarly, I know some guys who lift right alongside them who never get bulky. The fact is that that while men tend to have 10x the testosterone of women, the reality is that that's a mean, that hormones vary significantly throughout the human population, and that genetic differences cause different people to react differently to the same level of a particular hormone.

"Best move: Save your stretching for post-exercise, when muscles are warm." Half-wrong. She's right in that studies haven't conclusively shown that stretching reduces injury or enhances performance. In fact, many top atheletes never stretch, or will at best "cat-stretch" (observe a cat some time...). The truth is that stretching lightly, and naturally, after a warmup, does reduce muscle strains and pulls during heavy exercise involving peak transient efforts, such as raquetball, tennis, football, etc. Stretching immediately after exercise, however, doesn't do a thing! Some evidence suggest that the workout itself stretches individual fibers, even when the range of motion is less than normal stretching. Other evidence suggests that the endorphins coursing through your system after a solid workout can easily lead to overstretching, which is a bad thing. It's the stretching several times in the days after an exercise, when muscles are a little stiff, that help work through the kinks.

"...once you get warmed up, the caloric expenditure is the same whether you're exercising in Siberia or the Sahar." Wrong! It's not that the cold requires your body to burn more calories to keep warm - it's that your ability to keep your body's temperature under control becomes the limiting factor to the intensity of your workout! Exercising when it's 95 deg and 80% humidity will burn fewer calories than if it's 20 degrees cooler, simply because your body won't allow you to overexert yourself beyond your body's ability to cool itself - and trying to do so could be dangerous! This is the main reason why swimming pools used to train swim teams are kept below 72 degrees, often as low as 68 degrees. Brrr! for the casual swimmer, but trying to do pyramids in a 74 deg pool rapidly turns a competitive swimmer into an overheated pile of goo.

"Reality: Unless you've adjusted the intensity, you'll burn as much jogging or cycling today as you did last week ... Experts say that this principle only applies to exercises that we're naturally inefficient at..." BUSTED! Those tests, including the "2 to 5 percent" results, were done with atheletes, not run of the mill people. Furthermore, the activity-specific caloric expenditure can be as much as 60% greater for the untrained muscle as for the trained muscle. Finally, as your muscles become more efficient as doing a task, you don't need as much of them, so your body slims you down, and with less muscle, you have less basal metabolic rate, and you burn less calories while being a couch potatoe. Thus, if you want to burn more calories, mix a variety of exercises into your workouts, including steady-state cardio, varying cardio with peak, anerobic sprints, weight-training, and "play," such as basketball, soccer, vollyball, or just playing in the waves or horsing around with your kids. When you do, you'll find you'll be using all of muscles, and in the varying ways you need in order to remain healthy and active throughout your life.

Here's another tip: Don't hire. Do! By hiring others, we loose so much, including the opportunity to learn something new, and the exercise benefits we get in seeing it through. Don't hire - Do!

DarkHorse220
2009-Mar-18, 10:42 AM
Some of these are very questionable.


"...if you eat more calories than you burn, you'll gain fat." FALSE. But actually only sort of busted. Your body has an amazing ability to maintain weight at a certainly level. Thus, if you're weight has been a steady 205 pounds for a couple of years, and one day you slam an extra burger, bowl of chili, couple slices of pizza, etc., your body more or less lets that slide. Literally, it lets it slide right through you. Whereas previously your stools may have been fairly small, you'll find the next day's results are significantly different, and barely digested, leaving a lot of those calories (thankfully) elsewhere. On the other hand, if you continue to pound down the calories, your body will rapidly adjust and begin packing them on. Similarly, if you cut your caloric intake by 10%, you won't magically loose the weight equivalent of those cut calories! You body adjusts in that direction, too, and you'll find yourself leave the human equivalent of deer pellets behind.

This is a bit of a disingenuous counter-example, in that the net balance over time is what matters. It's not a days binge or fast, but how that adds up over time that matters.

In that sense, it *is* calories that matter; the alternative is that the body is somehow evaporating energy, which isn't likely.


"Reality: Three 10-minute cardio stints offer the same healthy payback as a single 30-minute one." False! When you do cardio, there's a ramp-up phase that takes several minutes, reaching equilibrium with your body somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes after you begin, depending on your body's condition level and the intensity of the exercise. This is why all fitness tests of aerobic conditioning are designed to take the measurements around the 10 min point. At the 10 minute point, you've just warmed up! And then you want to quit? Now - she's right in terms of the calories you burn, but she's not right in terms of your aerobic conditioning. However, there have been studies which prove three 20-min sets interspersed throughout the day provide better conditioning than one 60-min session, as well as that beyond 20 minutes you may be burning additional calories, but you're not gaining any additional aerobic benefit.

Depends on what you're after, really. If you're just after fitness improvement in terms of VO2 max then maybe. If you're just burning calories (to lose fat), then it's really not relevant.


"Reality: Women don't have enough of the muscle-building hormone testosterone to get bulky..." Wrong! And try telling that to the girls I see in the gym, some of whom have larger and better defined muscles than myself - and they're not taking testosterone! They simple lift weights the right way to bulk up. Similarly, I know some guys who lift right alongside them who never get bulky. The fact is that that while men tend to have 10x the testosterone of women, the reality is that that's a mean, that hormones vary significantly throughout the human population, and that genetic differences cause different people to react differently to the same level of a particular hormone.

Depends on what you define as bulky for a woman, I suppose. I've never seen a legitimately natural (non-drug using) female that got "too bulky", but we're also arguing aesthetics here.

The point about testosterone levels between males and females is not a myth. If these women were really sporting average T levels higher than the average male,you'd also expect development of secondary sexual characteristics. Odds are if you see that, then said woman is getting her testosterone from an outside source.


"Best move: Save your stretching for post-exercise, when muscles are warm." Half-wrong. She's right in that studies haven't conclusively shown that stretching reduces injury or enhances performance. In fact, many top atheletes never stretch, or will at best "cat-stretch" (observe a cat some time...). The truth is that stretching lightly, and naturally, after a warmup, does reduce muscle strains and pulls during heavy exercise involving peak transient efforts, such as raquetball, tennis, football, etc. Stretching immediately after exercise, however, doesn't do a thing! Some evidence suggest that the workout itself stretches individual fibers, even when the range of motion is less than normal stretching. Other evidence suggests that the endorphins coursing through your system after a solid workout can easily lead to overstretching, which is a bad thing. It's the stretching several times in the days after an exercise, when muscles are a little stiff, that help work through the kinks.

Static stretching before a workout also reduces force production by desensitizing the GTO and other afferents in the muscle. Dynamic stretching, sure, but sitting down and trying to static-stretch a cold muscle is not advisable.

lifting weights does indeed stretch teh fibers out, but we're talking apples and oranges. Stretching post-workout has the advantage of restoring the muscle to it's normal length and helping with blood flow.


"...once you get warmed up, the caloric expenditure is the same whether you're exercising in Siberia or the Sahar." Wrong! It's not that the cold requires your body to burn more calories to keep warm - it's that your ability to keep your body's temperature under control becomes the limiting factor to the intensity of your workout! Exercising when it's 95 deg and 80% humidity will burn fewer calories than if it's 20 degrees cooler, simply because your body won't allow you to overexert yourself beyond your body's ability to cool itself - and trying to do so could be dangerous! This is the main reason why swimming pools used to train swim teams are kept below 72 degrees, often as low as 68 degrees. Brrr! for the casual swimmer, but trying to do pyramids in a 74 deg pool rapidly turns a competitive swimmer into an overheated pile of goo.

The thermic effect of maintaining temperature equilibrium is very small. It's not going to make a meaningful difference.


"Reality: Unless you've adjusted the intensity, you'll burn as much jogging or cycling today as you did last week ... Experts say that this principle only applies to exercises that we're naturally inefficient at..." BUSTED! Those tests, including the "2 to 5 percent" results, were done with atheletes, not run of the mill people. Furthermore, the activity-specific caloric expenditure can be as much as 60% greater for the untrained muscle as for the trained muscle. Finally, as your muscles become more efficient as doing a task, you don't need as much of them, so your body slims you down, and with less muscle, you have less basal metabolic rate, and you burn less calories while being a couch potatoe. Thus, if you want to burn more calories, mix a variety of exercises into your workouts, including steady-state cardio, varying cardio with peak, anerobic sprints, weight-training, and "play," such as basketball, soccer, vollyball, or just playing in the waves or horsing around with your kids. When you do, you'll find you'll be using all of muscles, and in the varying ways you need in order to remain healthy and active throughout your life.

The bit about atrophy is why anyone looking to "lose fat" should include weight-training. It's the single greatest signal (short of dietary factors) to retain muscle mass.

Buttercup
2009-Mar-18, 01:37 PM
...and in the end we all die and return to dust.

HenrikOlsen
2009-Mar-18, 05:29 PM
The thermic effect of maintaining temperature equilibrium is very small. It's not going to make a meaningful difference.
His point was not keeping warm, but keeping cool.

With greater heat-loss, the max energy expenditure possible before overheating is increased, leading to greater effect of the exercising.

mugaliens
2009-Mar-18, 06:42 PM
His point was not keeping warm, but keeping cool.

With greater heat-loss, the max energy expenditure possible before overheating is increased, leading to greater effect of the exercising.

Thank you, Henrik! Thank you!

You know, I really hate it when I go out of my way, spending a considerable amount of time to disseminate cutting-edge information gleaned from leading experts that would be of benefit to the other members of our community only to have portions of it discounted.... :rolleyes:

Not really worthy of a response, in my book. :neutral:

But, alas - the fact that another member of our community made the comments dignifies the need for a response, so...


This is a bit of a disingenuous...

Use of the term "disingenuous" implies that I was not being genuine. I was.


...the net balance over time is what matters...

:blink:


Depends on what you're after, really.

Not really. My points hold true regardless of what one is after.


If you're just after fitness improvement in terms of VO2 max then maybe. If you're just burning calories (to lose fat), then it's really not relevant.

Well, one would think use of terms such as "aerobic conditioning" and "aerobic benefit" would have made it fairly clear as to the point of my paragraph on 10, 20, and 30 minute "cardio stints" (another term...).


Depends on what you define as bulky for a woman, I suppose. I've never seen a legitimately natural (non-drug using) female that got "too bulky"...

I have.


The point about testosterone levels between males and females is not a myth.

Naturally. It's the reason why we have facial and chest hair and they don't.


If these women were really sporting average T levels higher than the average male,you'd also expect development of secondary sexual characteristics.

"...higher than the average male..." Whoever said they were? Not me! You?


Static stretching before a workout also reduces force production by desensitizing the GTO and other afferents in the muscle. Dynamic stretching, sure, but sitting down and trying to static-stretch a cold muscle is not advisable.

Agreed! Or before any competition.


Stretching post-workout has the advantage of restoring the muscle to it's normal length and helping with blood flow.

Certainly. However, my point wasn't "if" to do post-workout stretches, but "when."


The thermic effect...

Henrik answered this well.


The bit about atrophy is why anyone looking to "lose fat" should include weight-training. It's the single greatest signal (short of dietary factors) to retain muscle mass.

Again, agreed, and finally, no arguement!

DarkHorse220
2009-Mar-18, 11:18 PM
His point was not keeping warm, but keeping cool.

With greater heat-loss, the max energy expenditure possible before overheating is increased, leading to greater effect of the exercising.

It's still not relevant; athletes train in heat all the time without significantly compromising activity.

DarkHorse220
2009-Mar-18, 11:29 PM
Thank you, Henrik! Thank you!

You know, I really hate it when I go out of my way, spending a considerable amount of time to disseminate cutting-edge information gleaned from leading experts that would be of benefit to the other members of our community only to have portions of it discounted.... :rolleyes:

Not really worthy of a response, in my book. :neutral:

Considering I work in the field of exercise physiology and can readily provide peer-reviewed references to support myself, I figured it would be acceptable.

If you just want to post things and not have them discussed, that's fine I guess.

But, alas - the fact that another member of our community made the comments dignifies the need for a response, so...


This is a bit of a disingenuous...

Use of the term "disingenuous" implies that I was not being genuine. I was.

:blink:

I'm not saying *you* were disingenuous. I'm saying the example was. Pointing out that the odd swing from the norm (too many calories or too few calories) doesn't make a difference is correct, but it's also defeating the meaning of "eat fewer calories to drop weight".

You have to make a consistent change in order to see an effect.


Not really. My points hold true regardless of what one is after.

Well, one would think use of terms such as "aerobic conditioning" and "aerobic benefit" would have made it fairly clear as to the point of my paragraph on 10, 20, and 30 minute "cardio stints" (another term...).

How many people here are running marathons?

The need for aerobic fitness is extremely overrated for the needs of most people - who I'm assuming this was targeted towards? In that regard, it's not important. Just burn calories, and all that takes is gettign up and moving around.


I have.

Like I said, aesthetics. From an objective standpoint, it's not very likely that an average woman is going to become a man-beast just from lifting weights.


Naturally. It's the reason why we have facial and chest hair and they don't.

"...higher than the average male..." Whoever said they were? Not me! You?

You were implying that women could get "bulky" for reasons besides simple T levels and I was refuting that by pointing out you'd expect them to have hair and deep voices too. Even if it is a matter of androgen sensitivity or abnormally high levels of unbound serum testosterone. The bad thing about androgens is that you don't tend to get the good parts (muscle) without the bad parts.

I've dealt with plenty of weight-training females and not a one has ever become a horrible man-beast simply from weight training - unless she was intentionally taking hormones she shouldn't have been taking.

sarongsong
2009-Mar-19, 02:20 AM
"...if you eat more calories than you burn, you'll gain fat." FALSE...No references, other than anecdotal? :rolleyes:
March 18, 2009
...The kind of diet doesn't matter, scientists say. All that really counts is cutting calories and sticking with it, according to a federal study that followed people for two years...Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key...
North County Times (http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2009/03/18/health/zff627f9eea8dd12d8825756f00153837.txt)

hhEb09'1
2009-Mar-19, 03:42 AM
No references, other than anecdotal? :rolleyes:His post isn't contradicted by what you quote though.

The point he made seems to be that, yes, long term over time, weight gain is related to calorie intake, but it doesn't take much manipulation of the examples to set up a situation that falsifies it: just stick sacks of sugar in plastic bags and swallow. High calories, zero effect.

gzhpcu
2009-Mar-19, 07:03 AM
...and in the end we all die and return to dust.
Looks like someone does not like to work out...:)

HenrikOlsen
2009-Mar-19, 04:53 PM
You know, I really hate it when I go out of my way, spending a considerable amount of time to disseminate cutting-edge information gleaned from leading experts that would be of benefit to the other members of our community only to have portions of it discounted.... :rolleyes:
That's ATM thinking, everything and everyone can be criticized, even you.
Especially when coming with an unreferenced list of statements claiming to be fact.

I defended you because I though he had missed your point, not because you're an undisputible authority.