According to good old Google, there are approximately 340,000 certified personal trainers in the United States alone.
The PT Pioneer (where I actually found that stat) said that doesn’t include those who are NOT certified and just offer their “knowledge” on the internet or social media.
Among those certified and uncertified, there’s A LOT of differing opinions on fitness floating around out there.
Now, I’m not here to toot my own horn and I’m all for differing opinions, but from all of my schooling, certifications, and continuing education, there’s A LOT of B.S. floating around out there…
The only reason I continue to research, and study is to provide you with the truthful, research-backed information to apply to your life.
In that respect, here are 5 common misconceptions in the training world.
Oh, but before we start, I’m not even going to address my LEAST favorite – that resistance training causes bulky and broad women – because it’s not worth my time or energy.
#1 I Must Train Heavy DAILY
A long, long time ago exercise wasn’t a thing.
Believe it or not, humans were fit enough from their everyday life to not NEED exercise.
Over time humans became less and less active only to reach where we are today – lazy and sedentary.
Now, 9 times out of 10 a new client comes to me looking to overcompensate for his or her sedentary lifestyle with daily (or 5 to 7 days per week) bouts of INTENSE exercise.
100% of the time I tell those clients you need nowhere near that much exercise.
Unfortunately, the American culture believes MORE is more when it comes to fitness and fat loss.
Too often clients approach me with the belief that MORE training sessions lead to greater results.
Even worse, clients believe MORE intensity leads to greater results.
That is the WORST misconception in the fitness industry, in my opinion.
Look, I get it, you want results and your excitement in this moment is telling you that you are darn near invincible.
You don’t NEED to train 7 days a week.
Heck, you don’t need to train 5 or 6 days a week.
Standard recommendations aren’t wrong – 3 to 4 days per week will do more than enough for your fitness levels and fat loss goals.
Now for the intensity.
You don’t need to champion every workout, to outperform the others in your gym, or destroy your body in every single workout.
Those 3 to 4 workouts per week should vary in intensity (high, medium, and low) to strengthen you for ALL areas of life.
Commit to a number of sessions that fits YOUR LIFE, not the other way around.
Leave the gym feeling stronger than you went in.
AND FINALLY get the results you desire!
#2 Light Weights + High Reps = Toned Muscles
In college I had a professor who swore he would fail us if we ever used the word “tone,” so for the longest time I avoided the word at all costs and even mimicked his cringe when some came to me with the desire to “tone up.”
But then I realized something…
My clients want to be TONED.
They don’t care about muscle mass, relative strength, cardiac output, or anything my grumpy old professor lectured us about.
They want to be toned, have some definition, and look good naked (that comes from another, much wiser professor).
Now, I love helping women and men achieve that, but the way they believe that is achieved is SO wrong.
Back in 80s and 90s, fit celebrities and VHS tapes showed toned men and women leading others through workouts that consisted of low weights and high reps.
It worked for these people. They were lean, toned, and if we’re being honest – skinny.
I mean come on ladies, who would you rather look like –
Jane Fonda or Jennifer Lopez?
Suzanne Somers or Beyonce?
Richard Simmons or Arnold?
Now, it’s not their fault because they didn’t know any better; however, the research and information we have today about how to build lean and toned muscle tells a VERY different story.
Your muscles NEED resistance. It is the ONLY way they are able to rebuild larger (and sometimes more) muscle fibers to create the lean appearance you desire.
I’m not telling you to switch your lighter weights with the heaviest ones on the rack, but I’m encouraging you to grab something that challenges you.
Is it scary? Yes.
Should you find a coach that can guide you through HOW to appropriately increase your resistance? Yes.
But start looking away from the lighter weights.
Then there’s the second half of the equation – the repetitions.
Research has discovered so many incredible things over the years, but what research has found in relation to health, fitness status, and body composition and repetition ranges is amazing.
What research has shown is that when you’re training HIGH reps (15+ reps), you’re actually only training the muscular endurance, which is the muscles capacity to repeat a movement.
Now, you might not see this, but that statement right there only speaks to the ABILITY of a muscle and NOTHING about the appearance, shape, or look.
So, what rep range does?
Well, if you’re using a weight that offers adequate resistance, you’re going to want to stick to a range of 8 to 12 (MAYBE 15 reps). This rep range assures you’re targeting muscular hypertrophy, which is the enlargement of muscular tissue by increasing the sizes of its cells.
THAT is what you want.
If you want tone and definition, you want to increase the size of your muscle cells so they POP and shine through.
Training for muscular hypertrophy is going to give that firmness to your arms, legs, and booty.
It’s going to build muscle tissue and BURN UP fat tissue.
And what you care most about, it’s going to fill that void in your saggy skin.
#3 Targeting Specific Areas = Targeted Fat Loss
As a teenage girl, I HATED my thighs.
Like sitting down on my heels on the floor made my want to cry. I looked at all of my friends and ALWAYS felt like my thighs were 2 to 3 times the size.
I wanted nothing more than to shrink them down and give them the BEAUTIFUL definition I saw on the top athletes in my sports.
So, when I started working out what did I do?
Legs, legs, and MORE LEGS!
Because in my head I was under the impression that by more frequently targeting my most HATED body area that I could shred the body fat I so badly wanted to lose.
So, why didn’t it work?
Well, contrary to popular belief targeting specific areas on your body DOES NOT lead to targeted fat loss.
This is a HUGE misconception in the body composition in fat loss world – SPECIFICALLY for females!
Your body does not KNOW or CARE that you want to lose body fat in a specific area.
And if you’ve tried losing body fat before, you know exactly what I’m talking about…
You don’t want to lose your butt, but it’s the first thing to go.
Or your boobs.
Or your face.
When you really want to lose that HATED body fat in your stomach/mid-section, your upper arms (AKA bingo wings), or cottage cheese thighs.
When you’re in a caloric deficit and working hard to build muscle, your body pulls body fat wherever it’s easiest to get it.
Unfortunately, where it’s easiest to get it differs for EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON.
Calories are calories.
Body fat is body fat.
And consistent work is the ONLY way to lose body fat in those undesirable areas.
#4 I’m Too Old
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they’re too old to do an exercise, I’d have a mansion full of puppies…
Now, I’m not denying the physiological changes that take place as you age, but I need to be honest and tell you that the belief that you’re TOO OLD to do something is really just a self-limiting belief we put upon ourselves.
YOU. ARE. NOT. TOO. OLD.
Brian and I coach a special couple where BOTH are 75 years young 😉
The husband was Brian’s FIRST client, and he still jumps, runs, AND deadlifts 315#.
The wife started with me just under one year ago after her second knee replacement (she has also had a hip replacement) and gets up and down off the floor better than ever with MUCH improved core stability and balance.
Age is not the factor.
Your body may not be as adaptable as it was in your youth, but that doesn’t mean it cannot adapt, make changes, and get stronger as you age.
You don’t need to do hundreds of burpees or box jumps.
You need a program that fits your lifestyle, your strengths and weaknesses, and YOUR AGE!
Quit telling yourself you’re too old and find a program that fits you! Go into it with an open mind and be honest with yourself and your coach on whether or not it’s a good fit!
#5 Fat Loss Comes From Cardio Only
I can’t even believe I’m giving attention to this B.S. fitness misconception, but since I decided to skip over the bulking female one, I didn’t think it was right to skip over another button pusher.
Fat loss does NOT come from cardio only.
Let’s say you hopped on the treadmill for the first time for 30 minutes at a zero-degree incline and you burn 300 calories (RANDOM ballpark number for simple explanation).
Then, you repeat that every day for the next 7 days and all a sudden you notice you’re only burning 250 calories.
Because your body became more efficient at running on that treadmill, so it wasn’t working as hard and didn’t need to burn as many calories.
How can you get back to burning 300 calories per run?
Vary the stress!
How do you do that?
- Add Time
- Add Intensity (AKA incline, speed, or both)
So, you give that a shot, but your body adapts again, and you need 1 of those 2 markers to change AGAIN.
Before you know it, you’re in a never-ending cycle of adding time and intensity to your treadmill runs until you either run out of time in the day, speed on the treadmill, or incline.
The truth is that with cardio your body adapts VERY quickly because it is a VERY repetitive movement that stresses the SAME muscle groups every single session (and a very select few muscle groups I might add).
It’s like nails on a chalkboard when someone asks why there isn’t MORE cardio or what cardio they should do to supplement their training program.
Think of all the different exercises you could do in a strength training program.
Actually, probably millions.
That is SO MUCH variation on your body that sparks a stress response and adaptation by the body.
The best part?
You don’t need to add time or all that much intensity to continually stress the body enough to promote fat loss!
Stop convincing yourself that you NEED cardio for fat loss.
And whoever told you or wherever you read that was full of it.
If you’re buying in to any of these training misconceptions and aren’t quite sold on what I’ve laid out for you here in this blog, I’d love to have more of a conversation. Go ahead and sign up for a FREE Strategy Call HERE and I’ll give you research-based, scientifically-driven FACTS ab out the fitness and training industry.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.