Archive for February, 2013

Four Fitness Fallacies

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

I thought I would take a break from my dissertation writing and research to dispel a few myths or ‘school-of-thought’ that people have regarding strength and conditioning. Though I am pleased at the gains the fitness industry is making in terms of knowledge of training and standard, I am still bombarded by questions and sometimes statements from the groups that I train. To that end, review my thoughts on the below statements and maximise your potential :D .

1. Long Legs Means You Can Run Faster
Wrong! Simply put, running fast is more to do with relative strength and less to do with limb length. The ability to exert force into the ground coupled with flexibility will determine how far a stride one can take (2). The frequency of that stride (leg speed) will be the other factor that determines how fast a person is. Strong(er) + Flexible + High Stride Frequency = Fast.

2. Benching is Bad for the Shoulder
Wrong! The thing to understand here is the movement pattern. As an example,  if a desk jockey comes to me and wants to become more athletic and improve their physique then I can do that without programming bench press. Similarly I would not use sit ups. Essentially I would avoid all exercises that endorse a posture that the person would most likely be in for 8.5hours of the day. I would use OH pressing variations to promote shoulder mobility and antiflexion exercises to both get the client stronger and more aesthetic looking. That said, with an athlete or healthy individual who isn’t rocking a desk-jockey posture then the bench press is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s great! Like anything: too much is…TOO MUCH! So having a balance of pressing and pulling is essential; however, that is another topic. The take away message is that benching will be no worse for the shoulder joint than any other pressing variations provided it is performed correctly.

3. Heavy Weights Will Make You ‘Bulky’
I hate the term ‘bulk’ or its variations. A person can increase fat percentage. A person can gain muscle. Heavy loadings will not increase fat percentage – bad nutrition will. The term heavy is subjective, for this discussion we’ll assume heavy is anything a person can achieve five repetitions or less with (~82.5% 1RM). What bodybuilders have instinctively known for years and what countless research supports is that ~70% is the range of loading that should be used to create a hypertrophy adaptation (a relatively light load). As I am supposed to be taking a break from my dissertation writing I didn’t want to make this post a referenced or academically themed post; however, the student inside me is compelled to communicate these references to back up my opinion on this matter (1, 3, 4). That said, go and try 3 x 10 with 70% 1RM and it will not feel light. Nothing should really feel light in the gym unless you are doing a ‘speed day’ or performing a velocity dependent movement.

4. Creatine Makes You More Explosive
Training explosively is probably the best place to start when trying to increase power. The how and why of explosive training is outwith the scope of this post; however, there is a great debate regarding whether creatine works or doesn’t work. Here is the answer: like any supplement, if a person has a deficiency supplementation will work. That said, if a steak eating individual is about to invest in a big ‘ol tub of the latest super-microfiltered 100% purified creatine then I would advise them to save their money as they are most likely getting sufficient levels of creatine from their diet.

I hope these statements dispel some of the thoughts that are running riot in the fitness industry – now back to my dissertation :) .


1. Baechle TR, and Earle RW. 2011. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 3rd ed. Chp 6. pp110. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.
2. Fletcher I. 2010. Biomechanical aspects of sprint running. UKSCA Journal of Professional Strength and Conditioning. 17 pp 16-20
3. Kraemer WJ, and Vladimir MZ. 2006. The Science and Practice of Strength Training. 2nd ed. Chp 6 104-119. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.
4. Siff M. 2003. Supertraining. Chp 7 pp 392-400. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.