Thursday, November 6, 2014

101 Fitness Myths Book Review - 5 Myths Debunked

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The fitness industry - full of useful, scientific information, and full of atrocious information that I wouldn't want anyone believe. That's why when Girls Gone Sporty offered us the chance to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity! I have spent years reeducating clients on what is actually beneficial to the body....Don't believe everything you read in what I call "pop-culture" fitness magazines. There are only a handful of mainstream publications that I've come to trust, because so many are hit-or-miss.  Anyway, on to the book, I read this book, and it was a super easy, fast read....even a non-reader and a non-fitness professional can take and apply Maik's advice. He also cites his sources and includes them in an appendix, so if you're a research buff like me, you can read them for yourself. He also includes sample workout programs, so that you can apply your newfound knowledge.

A little information on the author:
Maik Wiedenbach was an Olympic swimmer for the German National team. He currently teaches graduate level fitness at NYU. He came to the U.S. on and athletic scholarship, and after completing school, he even worked on Wall Street! So you could say he a pretty balanced dude. Oh, and he's been strength training for over 20 years....I think he might know a thing or two, or 101!

Let's talk about 5 of the myths that Maik discusses in this book.

1.  "I don't have the genetics." Maik uses the example of Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a classic example of the truth that genetics are only 10% of the equation. Zane only had 16" arms! And while, he couldn't gain mass like Arnold, he learned how to create unmatched symmetry, going on to beat Arnold in the Olympia three times! Kind of eleminates the excuse that you don't have the right build for fitness, doesn't it?

2. "Flat Bench Presses are the Best Exercise for your chest." I LOVE that Maik addresses this early on in the book. In my years of working in gyms, I have seen countless men ascend the throne of bench pressing for up to an hour at a time! I kid you not, and, yes, I timed these oh-so-faithful fitness buffs. As Maik says, "the main function of the pectoralis major is to pull the arm laterally across the body". Don't believe him, study anatomy and biomechanics for a semester of college and you will. Maik also states that cable flyes are a much better substitute for bench presses. (Their also much easier on the back.)

3. "Shaping vs. Bulking exercises: what's the difference?" Oh, Maik, thank you for addressing this!!!! It took 3 years for me to erase this crazy myth from my own my own mind, that some exercise shape and that others bulk....the shape of your muscles is where genetics does kick in. A lot of times, we mistake "bulk" for well, a lack of lean muscle tone....but I digress. Maik concludes that a wise approach to training muscles involves a power movement or mid-range movement, such as push-ups to focus on the concentric phase of muscle contraction (shortening the muscle), and super-setting that exercise with one that emphasizes the eccentric phase (stretching) of the muscle to stretch the muscle. This pairing of both phases of muscle contraction causes more micro tears, which is what cause the muscle to grow stronger and harder, and also requires an intense amount of fat burning in the reparation process.

4.  "I don't train legs because I already ride my bike, play soccer, etc." For some of you, that statement just dialed your digits. If lean toned legs are your goal, then solely focusing on a ridiculous amount of endurance exercise or cardio will not get you there, or keep you injury free. You see, as Maik points out, cycling uses the same muscles over and over again, thus causing muscle imbalances. The same thing happens in many sports. This is why a good athletic trainer will require athletes to incorporate deadlifts and lunges to utilize the hamstrings and glutes...and the squat is one of the best metabolic movements, incorporating some 200 muscles, muscle burns calories, even while at rest, if trained effectively.

5. "I want to look like..." While having a visual image to strive for is a great motivator, I agree with Maik. You need to visualize what you will look like at your best...I will never have Ava Cowan's biceps, because I do not have her genetics. My training buddy, is an endomorph/mesomorph combo. I am a mesomorph/ectomorph combo. While it drives me nuts that she has killer shoulders...she used to turn green with envy that my legs lean out so much faster. While we both follow similar nutrition guides, and both strength train, she knows that she needs to aim for as many reps as possible against the clock, while I sometimes need to slow my rep speed down while being timed. Visualize you at your best, not someone else's.

That being said. I really enjoyed this book! Maik is a fun, engaging author, and I'm so glad that I got this opportunity courtesy of Girls Gone Sporty and Laura Williams. This book is packed with information that make it a keeper. If you really want to be able to evaluate workout programs, and begin to evaluate all the information out there for yourself, I would recommend this book. And to my fitness friends, I would definitely recommend this book for your arsenal of resources. To order, feel free to click on the banner at the beginning of the post! Part of the proceeds do support my blog. Thanks!

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