Because there’s so much information (and misinformation) about fitness and nutrition, it can be tough to decipher anecdotal evidence versus total BS versus peer-reviewed scientific studies. It’s important to remind yourself that how you and your body respond to specific protocols can be vastly different from a social influencer whose job is to sell you on the best pre-workout or muscle-building supplements like protein powder.
“I have gotten numerous requests via social media asking me for the exact diet or training program Ryan Reynolds or Sebastian Stan used for Deadpool or Winter Soldier,” says celebrity trainer Don Saladino. “The thing is, and I make sure to explain this — those programs were tailored to those guys and their goals. So just because it worked Ryan or Seb doesn’t mean it’ll work for someone else.”
If you have a plan and you feel it’s working — even if it’s working slower than you’d like — stick with it until you’re plateaued or your coach instructs you to change things up. You don’t want to start second-guessing your approach simply because it doesn’t fit with something a celebrity talked about in a profile, or some bro-science fueled fitness myth. Below are a few to ignore.
1. You have to train hard every day.
Pushing yourself to the physical limit for days on end without rest and recovery will eventually lead to injury or burnout. “I’d prefer to have someone be active when they’re not working with me so they’re looking forward to our session,” says Saladino. “I see it a lot: People use the same formula every day, and they're just beating themselves up.”
But keep in mind that days don’t mean staying stuck to your couch. Being active is encouraged — running errands, using recovery tools like a theragun, walking the dog, doing chores. All fine. But cranking out a 20-minute high-intensity interval session on a rest day? Not ideal.
2. Training with heavy weights will make you look bulky.
Yes, progressive overload — upping the weight and frequency, or reps during a routine — can lead to hypertrophy (muscle growth). But gaining strength and building muscle won’t necessarily translate into you morphing into a block of muscle, especially if you’re training a few days per week and you’re focused on total body training instead of body-part-specific routines. No one ends up looking like a bodybuilder by accident.
3. The hands-down best time to train is ____________.
Training at 6 a.m. isn’t happening if you work overnights. The best time to train is whenever you can fit it into your schedule on a regular basis. If you have trouble finding a time that works, consider adopting Strauss Zelnick’s method. The president and CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software became known as “America’s Fittest CEO” after prioritizing his fitness to the same level of importance as a business meeting. “Doing that ensured that exercise would never be the first thing to drop off of my schedule,” Zelnick says. (He also kicked booze and hired trainers to ensure he’d learn the fundamentals and advance consistently.)
4. If you’re not working out for more than an hour, you’re wasting your time.
The law of diminishing returns is a real thing, especially in fitness. There is no reason to go hard in the gym or out on the track for a long time just for its own sake. You're better off being efficient with the time you spend pushing plates around, and then consistent with good habits like eating well and getting good sleep.
Trends, myths, and celebrity workouts will always be around, though they may look a little different every few years. The thing is, not everything about fitness is just about the workout. Just as much of being healthy and fit is about what happens outside of the gym. Here are a few perennial tips that will benefit both your everyday life and your chosen fitness routine.
1. Chill Out
Being chronically overstressed can suppress the immune system and trigger cortisol spikes, which can cause weight gain. Do what you can to find ways to reduce your stress in a healthy and sustainable way.
2. Stay Hydrated
Research has shown that even the slightest dip in hydration can hinder performance. In the gym, you’ll feel weaker and fatigue faster. Struggling to drink more water? Slam an eight-ounce glass when you wake up, fill up a water bottle and sip it at your desk while you work, and drink a glass with meals
3. Get Enough Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults snag seven to nine hours per night of quality shuteye. The benefits to hitting these numbers:
- You’ll feel rested (you won’t use the lame “I’m tired” excuse to skip a workout).
- Your muscles and tissues have time to repair and grow.
- Cognitive abilities (concentration and clarity) are elevated.
- Lower leptin levels, a hormone that sends a signal to the body that it's time to shut your pie hole.
Even with these rules in mind, it can be easy to be distracted by friends, influencers, or celebrities. Ultimately the best tactic for ignoring fitness trends is to focus on yourself. The best way to do this? Keep a training journal.
This is a place where you can write down how you performed on certain movements. How much weight? How many sets? How many reps? How did they feel? Was the form good? Was it better than last week?
Give it a shot. You can use a notebook or an app, which doesn’t really matter so long as you’re detailed and consistent enough that you can look back and track your own progress, or identify points you’re having trouble improving on.
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