Myth 1: Cardio is the best way to help lose body fat
One thing is true: cardiovascular exercise burns calories. This means it can help you create a negative caloric balance, which is essential for losing body fat. However, loss of body fat cannot be achieved if your energy output (through exercise) and energy intake (though food and drink) are equal, or if perhaps the intake is even higher than the body’s energy requirements. A further misconception is that cardiovascular exercise is the best type of training for effective fat loss, when in fact the ranking for being most successful is as follows:
- strength training + cardio
- strength training
Myth 2: Lots of reps will give you a shredded look
There is no evidence to support this theory. High reps and high volume result in an increase in caloric expenditure, which would be beneficial in the case of counteracting the effects of overeating. However, if you’re in fact in a state of caloric reduction, training with heavier weights and lower reps can help you maintain your muscle mass better. This is because the high mechanical tension caused by heavy weights is the most important signal for hypertrophy, and when done correctly, the combination of heavy weights and calorie-reduced diet will help you get that shredded look.
Myth 3: The best way to train for hypertrophy is by always going to muscle failure
Actually, if you always train until failure, you will end up reducing the overall volume of training that you could otherwise attain. Reduction in volume is suboptimal in achieving maximum hypertrophy, for two main reasons. The first is that you have to reduce the weight of every set in order to help achieve the prescribed reps if you go to failure on each set. Volume is made up of reps x weight. Therefore this would ultimately lead to a reduction in volume when compared with hitting a prescribed weight for each set and leaving two reps in the tank on the first set. Secondly, going to failure increases DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), thus necessitating a longer recovery break between sessions for specific muscle groups. This will lead to fewer sessions per week, month and year, thus decreasing the overall volume you can dedicate to growing this particular muscle group.
Myth 4: Warming up isn’t necessary
Most sprinters spend at least an hour on warming up, but why? They know that running at a high velocity requires maximum effort, as well as a central nervous system and muscles that are in an optimal state to work. Although you are not a sprinter, lifting weights properly requires a similar working state. For success, you should therefore spend at least 10 minutes warming up in order to increase your body temperature. This leads to a host of positive adaptations, such as faster nerve signaling, reduced friction in your joints, and an overall better working condition for your muscles. Ultimately this not only means less risk of injury, but also improved performance and the ability to lift more weight.
Myth 5: high reps for a sixpack
The abdominal muscles are predominantly made up of slow twitch muscle fibers with a high fatigue resistance. Therefore, the assumption is to use solely high repetitions to create a 3D look for your abs. However, as with any muscle group, high muscular tension during training is the main trigger of hypertrophy. Therefore, the focus should be set on a lower repetition range (8-12) but with a heavier weights load. Exercises that are perfect for this are hanging leg raises, cable crunches, pallov presses (aka belly press, anti-rotation exercise for static and dynamic stability).
Author: Sebastian Kaindl
Sebastian is a Sports Scientist (hons), head coach at Kaindl Athletic System, state coach for powerlifting and is himself an active member of the national team.
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