Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Transformation Techniques III – Myths
Posted By Jason Paris
We received some fantastic feedback following Jason’s Gymchat (#207), cheers. Much appreciated.
Jason’s kindly agreed to contribute a series of articles looking at this fascinating area in even more detail. This week’s is below.



Getting your dream physique is a lot of hard work. But it gets a whole lot easier when you have the right plan in place.

Last time we talked about the mental aspect of transformations. How to overcome the internal struggles so we can change our bodies.
This week, we’re going in a slightly different direction. We’re going to continue to talk about roadblocks and struggles, but instead of the internal challenges, we’re going to talk about a few of the hidden challenges. Things that are directly sabotaging our results and making it more difficult for us to reach our ideal physique.

Separating fact from fiction

Exercise and fitness aren’t immune to myths and fallacies. I’m not sure what makes fitness so susceptible to myths, but it’s prevalent and could be one of the reasons you’re not reaching your goals as quickly as you’d like. Today I want to talk about 5 common fitness myths that once brought to light, will make your transformation that much easier.

1. Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

You don’t have to look too far to see an ad or article heading touting drastic fat loss and muscle building transformations being achieved at a record setting pace.
I’ve seen claims like…

  • add 41 pounds of rock solid muscle in just 24 weeks!
  • lose 7 pounds of fat in 7 days!

Fast is good. So naturally we jump all over these offers.
Everyone likes instant gratification. I’m not any different. Unfortunately things take time, especially when it comes to the body.
Burning fat is a faster process than building muscle.
Muscle growth is an incredibly slow process. A pro bodybuilder is happy with 5 lbs of new muscle in a year.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait that long. When you’re first starting out, gains come quicker than they do after you have been training for a long time. So that 5 lbs can come in the course of a couple of months for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot less muscle than you think to see a change. An extra 10 lbs of muscle will make a huge difference in your physique.
While weight loss can happen a lot quicker than building muscle, it still takes time.
Shooting to lose 1 − 2% of your bodyweight a week is a good goal.
Drastic numbers can be achieved quickly. But they’re just numbers. There are a lot of factors that make up your weight and cause fluctuations. Water being a big one.
These bold claims take advantage of the changes in the body’s natural fluctuations. They’re not reporting real results, real muscle growth or real fat loss.
Not seeing fast results can be frustrating. But don’t let advertisers dictate your expectations.
A transformation takes time. Be consistent and patient. Follow the right program and diet. You’ll get there.

2. Miracle Foods

Spend any time around the gym and you’ll hear guys sharing ancient gym secrets on every aspect of training.
Nutrition always seems to be at the forefront of these discussions. They talk of miracle foods that can instantly build muscle or burn fat. They claim they’re so effective that training almost becomes secondary. Kind of like chocolate milk in muscle building circles.
Chocolate milk is supposedly one of those miracle foods that will pile on slabs of muscle like nothing else.
You’ll notice that the same conversation is going on around the cardio equipment.
In an effort to beat the bulge, tales of exotic foods are often told. Take Garcinia Cambogia from southeast Asia. It’s supposed to be so effective that diet and exercise are obsolete. Not true.
There’s no magic to it. There aren’t any miracle foods. The real secret is to eat well-balanced meals. Have lots of variety and stick to your required calories. That’s it.
Nothing magical or mystical – just effective.

3. Foods That Go Straight To The Hips

After the conversation of the miracle foods, comes the gym’s elders telling stories of food that will destroy your body. They claim there are foods that are the worst and have mystical powers of evil. Like the mysterious chocolate cake that can add pounds to the hips of people who just look at it.
Low-fat diets were popular for a while on the assumption that eating fat would make you fat.
Luckily these myths are false. No one food can make you fat or prevent you from getting killer abs.
In fact, you can eat your favorite food and still reach your goals.
With that said, foods high in calories have to be consumed in moderation. Too many calories will keep the abs hidden. But feel free to enjoy everything. Nothing needs to be excluded from your diet.
Just like before…
Eat a well-balanced meal. Have as much variety as possible and stick to your required calories.

4. The Fat Burning Zone

When it comes to cardio and burning fat fast, there’s a lot of talk about the fat burning zone. Every cardio machine I’ve seen has a fat burning setting or program. It can even get kind of technical with fancy graphs, age predictions, and math.
But the fat burning zone doesn’t exist.
We’re constantly burning fat. It happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
So the notion of a fat burning zone is crazy and holding you back from faster fat loss.
To burn the most fat in the quickest time, get as far from the fat burning zone as you can.
Get the heart pumping and the metabolism revved up to the max.
I know a few people may still be skeptical about this, so I’ll explain why the “fat burning zone” is a myth.
As I said before, we are always burning fat. At lower intensities, fat is a major source of energy.
As intensity of activity increases, more energy is needed. Fat is slow to release its energy. It has trouble keeping up with the calorie demand of intense physical activity. So the body has to shift to other sources of fuel.
All fuel sources are pitching in to keep the body going at this intense rate. Fat is no longer the main star like it once was. It’s still helping out, but as a percentage of calories burned, it decreases.
This may be a little confusing, so I’ll give you a quick example.
Let’s say you go for a 10 minute walk. That burns 50 calories. Roughly 60% of those calories came from burning fat because you were in the fat burning zone. That means 30 calories of fat were burned.
Let’s say that you said the heck with the fat burning zone. You want to tear up the track. So you run as fast as you can for 10 minutes. You covered a lot of ground and burned 150 calories.
Of that 150 calories burned, 40% were fat calories. That means you burned 60 calories of fat. Even though you weren’t in the “fat burning zone,” you still burned more fat. And even more importantly, you burned more calories.
To burn more fat and more calories, increase the intensity. Staying in the fat burning zone will only slow your progress.

5. Losing The Love Handles

Go to any gym and you’ll see people on the floor and in machines working hard on their abs. All in an effort to flatten their stomach.
Big mistake.
This is time wasted.
I’ll even go as far as to say it’s making you fatter.
Thats because there’s no such thing as spot reduction. Working the trouble spots doesn’t do anything to help make them disappear. What it does do, is take time away from exercises and activities that could make a difference. Thus, making you fatter.
If you set aside 45 minutes to workout and 10 minutes are spent doing side bends to get rid of the love handles, that’s time that could be better spent doing an exercise with a higher intensity.
The higher the intensity, the more calories burned.
As we don’t get to pick and choose where the fat goes, we don’t get to pick and choose where the fat gets burned off. So concentrate on exercises that will deliver the biggest bang for your buck.
Next week, we’ll continue looking at myth. Some of the things we’ll cover are:

  • Optimal meal frequency
  • Meal timing
  • Boosting your metabolism with meals

See you next week.

Previously in this series :
Transformation Techniques : Definitions
Transformation Techniques : Mental Strength
And for an even closer look at any of the topics discussed, swing by the guides area. Some great reading in there.

Incidentally, if you’d like to dive into this topic a little deeper (and I wouldn’t blame you for that – fascinating area), grab the daily Aging & Longevity newsletter. Dive in.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Jason Paris
Jason Paris, CSCS is an Atlanta-based strength and conditioning coach and runs Fitness Doctrine, a site dedicated to helping you making your own physical & mental transformation. Jason can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. And of course in Gymchats 207 & 236. Fantastic.
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