Health and fitness is filled with myths, rumours and half truths, and following them will leave you making half the progress you could be following a solid plan.
Today we’re looking at some of the popular pieces of broscience advice and how we can do better.
“OUTTA THE WAY! GOTTA GET MY SHAKE BEFORE THE WINDOW CLOSES!!” - suggesting that after a certain time your body isn’t going to accept nutrients.
Yes, the quicker you get nutrients into your system the better (the sooner the repair work begins, the sooner you’ll be recovered), but there’s no “window” of opportunity. If you have a post workout shake, that’s cool. If you wait until dinner to get some food in, that’s also cool.
Stop panicking, there’s no rush.
Lifting Gloves Are Acceptable
Unless you’re a hand model, leave the gloves at home.
They look ridiculous. Also, while they do protect your skin, the material will add an extra layer to the bar, making it thicker and harder to hold onto. Coupled with the smooth material many are made of, the bar knurling has nothing to grip onto, letting the bar slide right out your hands.
Instead of trying to make the load easier, make your hands tougher. Ditch the gloves.
Bro Splits for Max Muscle Work
Chest Monday, Arm Tuesday, Delt Wednesday, and who cares about the rest. All the (important) muscles get hit, and there’s plenty time to recover for the next week.
Ever feel like it’s too much time?
Research agrees, finding that your muscles are usually ready to go again after a few days rest (with or without some DOMS). So hitting them once a week leaves extra progress on the table.
If you’re all in, hitting a muscle group twice a week leaves enough time to recover, while adding in an extra training day each week. The best way to get these in is by incorporating full body workouts or targeting movements instead of individual muscle groups each workout - for example push/pull days, lower body/upper body days instead of chest, arms, shoulders etc.
Cardio Kills Your GainZ
To be more accurate, it’s only badly timed cardio that kills gainZ.
The popular theory is that by doing extra cardio (any kind of long duration endurance work, running, cycling, swimming etc), you’re going to start getting weaker.
It makes sense from a general view, if you spend time/energy on cardio AND lifting weights, you won’t have as much time/energy then someone who just lifts weights. Same for recovery, if you’re tired from cardio then you won’t have as much energy to crush a heavy weights session. For the final nail in the coffin, by adding cardio to your workout your burning extra calories, therefore losing body weight, therefore getting smaller and losing yo’ gainZ.
These are all true: you will get better at something by focusing solely on that one thing instead of several things, if you do a big cardio session before lifting weights your muscles and nervous system will be fatigued going into the workout, and if you add cardio to your current regime then you’ll be burning extra calories.
However, if we change our approach, we can counteract these things:
Focus on one thing at a time (keep cardo and weights apart, separate them into different days or different times in the day)
If you must do them on the same day, do cardio AFTER the weights (directly after or later in the day, ideally later to be more recovered). This way you can get a solid weights session in, using the leftover energy for the less intense cardio.
EAT MORE. If you’re wanting to maintain or gain your body weight/mass, then you’ll need to adjust your intake to match or exceed what you’re burning off. If you’re losing weight, then you’re in an energy deficit. If you’re gaining weight, then you’re consuming more calories than your burning. Adjust your diet to match your activities/goals.
As someone who focuses on strength and running, I will say it is easier to say than do. Here you need to be realistic about your goals and training - while you can work around and do both, it’s not going to go as quickly as if you focused on just one thing. Just plan ahead, set realistic goals (often just to do “a little better” or adding 2.5kg to a lift is easier than shooting for a big round number) and be smart about it.
If you still are in doubt, take a look at the achievements and works of Alex Viada (author of The Hybrid Athlete, frequent triathlon competitor and deadlifts over 280kg), Kris Gethin (Bodybuilding.com trainer, bodybuilder and recently completed his first Iron Man Triathlon weighing near 100kg of stacked muscle) and Ross Edgley (fitness adventurer, is a jacked 90-100kg dude and does Ultra Endurance adventures like 30 marathons in 30 days, Swimming 50+ miles dragging a tree (twice), pulling a Mini Cooper for 26.2 miles (Worlds Strongest Marathon) and the Worlds Longest Rope Climb).
Sit Ups for Six Packs
Sit ups were a main part of my workouts when starting out, hitting more and more to build a blocky midsection. Until there were more in depth studies conducted, showing full sit ups relied more on hip flexors than the core, and crunches were lauded as the new ab builder. Out with the sit ups, in with crunches.
There’s now research suggesting that both are pretty bad for the spine - lying on your back and curling upwards putting excessive strain on your discs. Crunches aren’t as bad, but with bad form/posture they can potentially do more harm than good.
So what is the go to now? Planks.
Planks will hold your spine in a better position, and hit more core than just the six pack part of your abs (the rectus abdominus muscles). As the core is made to maintain balance, any anti-flexion or anti-rotation exercise is going to give them a good workout.
I’m still a big fan of hanging leg raises and twisting exercises (Russian twists, wood choppers), but if they’re causing you back pain then it’s best to stick to something that isn’t doing you more harm than good.
BONUS: Creatine Causes Hair Loss
I’m throwing this one in as a bonus, because while creatine doesn’t cause hair loss in everyone - it could *maybe* cause hair loss in some.
Ladies, you’re safe here - this only goes for guys with a family history of male-pattern baldness. Guys, if you’re reading this with a creatine infused drink in hand, and your dad, grandad and uncle all went bald, then you might want to put the shaker down. For now.
At the time of writing, there’s only one study that’s linking baldness in men with creatine supplementation - so more research needs to be done to get more data and confirm whether it’s true or only true in some cases.
Don’t panic just yet, from what we understand it doesn’t cause hair loss outright, just accelerates the process slightly. So if you’re destined to lose the hair, it’s going to happen with or without taking extra creatine. All we can say is that it might happen a little sooner along with the extra gym gainZ.
If you’re looking for more info, Jordan of Vitruvian Physique has an excellent video looking at research that has been done and the science behind it (check it out here). Again, not everyone will be affected and it looks like it just accelerates an already present condition, but if you’re fond of your golden locks then it’s worth thinking about.
Option B is to Joe Rogan it, and just shave it all off.