If you’re like most men who are looking to get into shape you’ve probably looked to fitness magazines to give you the best information to help achieve your goals. And while that seems like sound judgement it can actually lead you astray. See fitness magazines number one goal is to sell more subcriptions, and while that isn’t inherently a bad thing, it often leads them to unloading tons of bad advice.
What makes the problem even worse is that the vast majority of fitness magazines are run by supplement companies who are only trying to sell you more junk, and sets up a pretty mean conflict of interest.
If fitness magazines told the truth about getting into shape, it would be simple advice and they wouldn’t have much to market to you every month.
Here’s a list of things that they typically won’t tell you
ONE Diet Solution Does NOT Exist
We’ve already addressed that magazines number one goal is to sell magazines and that means they will often cover the latest fad diet out there. Actually, fad diet may be too harsh of a term. There are some real benefits to making healthier food choices and monitoring how many macronutrients you’re getting. But many fad diets have their limitations which typically manifest themsleves as being too liberal with portions which leads to eating excess calories, or so restrictive that it’s impossible to follow for the long term.
The truth is as long as you’re eating nutritious foods, consuming the right amount calories and simultaneously managing your macro nutrient balance, you should be able to achieve your body goals.
It’s Ok If You Didn’t Get 8 Hours Of Sleep
Let’s start by saying that getting appropriate rest is a big part of leading a healthy and fit life. However the truth is that sometimes because of your schedule you won’t get 8 hours of sleep. But that doesn’t need to be the end of the world.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended but during the times that you’re not able to to do that there’s two things that you should: focus on sleep quality and naps.
Getting better quality sleep is key when you’re short on hours. Make sure you cut off all screen time at least an hour before bedtime. And if you absolutely must view your screen, try to utilize features like the iPhone’s “night shift” that limits the amount of blue light exposure so you can sleep better.
Another key to functioning with less sleep is trying to fit a nap into your day. A 60 minute nap would be ideal, however, naps of just 15 to 20 minutes have been proven to be beneficial for muscle recovery and brain function.
Reps and Sets Ranges Can Be Deceptive (Follow a rep range not sets)
Read enough fitness magazines and you’ll often find hard and fast rules for rep and set ranges. High reps muscle building, low reps for strength, super high reps for fat burning.
The truth is that every individual response to certain training stimulus differently. And sometimes you need to turn the traditional recommendations upside down in order to achieve your goals. For example, some people may be better of utilizing a low rep heavy weight range during a fat loss period as it would help them to hold on to more precious muscle mass during that time.
Another thing that fitness mags rarely tell you is that it’s better to focus on total number of reps than number of sets. As Chad Waterbury details here you can achieve far greater results by focussing on a total number of reps instead of sets.
Toning Is BS
For the average person looking to get into shape there’s a misguided term that they use far too often to describe their fitness goals: “toning”. When these people speak of being “toned” they’re describing a look that primarily involves dropping body fat in order to show increased muscle definition. The problem comes in when people try to execute this goal.
Many people look at the biggest hulk looking guy in the gym lifting heavy weights and think: “that’s not what I want to look like, I just want to be toned.” They in turn do inadequate or no resistance training to achieve the fat loss plans.
However, the truth is that it is that when trying to drop fat and get lean you need to employ some serious resistance training, a good diet and some high intensity cardio. And don’t worry about looking like that the hulk, that takes a serious level of training most people aren’t able to achieve.
Don’t Confuse Yourself With Muscle Confusion
The term muscle confusion is often associated with P90x, but the premise pops up across the fitness world. Most magazines try to tell you that because of muscle memory you need to be constantly changing your exercises in order to keep challenging your body.
But the truth is that you don’t need to switch up things that much or that frequently. Ideally you should follow a plan for 16 weeks to achieve your goal that the time. During that time you should vary your exercises every 4-5 weeks. And even when you do make a change it’s best to stick to your basic compound exercises rather going for something completely off the wall.
What’s more important that switching up exercises, is following a progression plan and adding more weight to the bar. That way you’ll be able to lift more and truly achieve your goals.
The Better Shape You’re In The Easier Things Become
Like most things in life when you first start doing something you have to work incredibly hard to achieve your goals, and your body is no different. The more in shape you are the easier it is to achieve your goals.
This why your friend that has 8 percent body fat can afford to eat a whole pizza and not look overweight. His body’s insulin sensitivity is far better than a sedentary couch potato, and his high metabolism allows him way more leeway than the average person.
This should serve as extra motivation to work as hard as possible to get to your desired fitness goals. Because just like how the rich get richer, the fit usually get fitter.
It may be true that there are certain metrics that everyone can attain i.e: have a 6 pack. However things are way more complicated than that.
Just as some people are naturally gifted at certain sports, body physique is no different. Some people are just blessed with great genetics that allow them to keep off body fat while eating like shit and working out very little. And yes, we all hate those people.
We want to stress that genetics are important but don’t use them as a crutch to be fat and out of shape. Instead realize that you’re different than anyone else and therefore your workout plan needs to be customized to fit your needs.
Diet Is More Important Than Exercise
This rhetoric is quite prevalent in fitness magazines. There’s an overemphasis on what exercises to do to achieve your goals. And while the right training program is incredibly important, the simple fact is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet.
Fitness headlines like “6 moves to give you bigger biceps” or “This workout blasts fat” may dominate magazines but what they should be saying at the start of every article is prioritize nutrition. One of the best article on fat loss training is this one right here because of this emphasis:
“If you’re serious about stripping off body fat, you must make time for proper nutrition. If you don’t have time for this, make time.”
Ab Workouts Don’t Give You Abs
The holy grail for most men that strive to be fit is attaining the very hard to get 6 pack. Because of this fitness mags are constantly pushing articles about what exercises you need to do to get abs.
The problem with this information is that poor ab exercise isn’t the reason you can’t see your abs. The reason you can’t see your abs is that there’s too much fat covering them. So in order to see them you need to focussed on things that burn fat and ab exercises are some of the WORST things at achieving the goal because they burn so little calories compared to big compound movements.
This is not to say that ab exercises are completely useless. Once you have removed that fat to give yourself visible abs, some specific exercises will help to give the muscles more shape. But just make sure you don’t miss the forrest for the trees
Movie Stars Are Probably Using Steroids
Almost every year there’s a blockbuster movie that features an actor that plays a role that requires them to be in tremendous shape in a short amount of time. The result of this is multiple magazines making up routines, photoshopping bodies of actors on covers, and writing about the routine and diet that can get you ripped in 6 weeks like the actor. What do they almost never talk about: steroids!
Building a muscular body is hard. Researchers say that, even for newbies, the most muscle they can expect to gain in their first year of serious lifting is 20 to 25 pounds. So when you hear of an actor doing this in just 6 weeks steroid/PEDs should be one of the first things to come to mind.
Actors serve to gain millions of dollars to look a certain way so they have a real incentive to use drugs. And you can pass whatever judgment you’d like on that. Just know that following a 300 workout plan is not what it will take to look like King Leonidas from the movie. That look will require years of hard work, so don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t happen in 6 weeks.
Magic Supplements DO NOT Exist
Sorry to burst the bubble, but there’s no supplement out there that will make you into the chisel specimen you’re striving to become. Most supplements on the market are crap with very little research to back their claims.
The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement industry in the same way it does medicine so that’s why companies are able to make wild claims without backing them up. What’s worse is that most supplements contain harmful substances and low levels of the things you actually need.
The truth is you ultimately don’t need supplements to achieve the body you want. And outside of creatine, anything claiming rapid muscle growth and fat loss is probably lying to you. If you want a real guide to supplements, check this one out right here.
Steady State Cardio Is Inferior For Fat Loss
Fitness mags love to prescribe running, moderate elliptical training, bike riding etc. However these exercises by themselves are poor choices for burning fat. The intensity from this type of training is not enough to create the calorie deficit you need to drop fat, and they don’t challenge your body enough to burn calories when the workout is done.
“Cardio” for fat loss purposes is better done in a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT ) manner. Instead of running at a steady state for an hour you’d perform as many 30 second sprints you could in 15 minutes. This creates metabolic stress that’s similar to weight training and is fat more superior as a fat loss exercise.