Regular exercise. Like it or hate it, we know we have to do it. Otherwise, we can’t indulge – guilt-free, anyway – in the other activities we love, everything from snacking to drinking to sex. Warning: In the race to hop on the treadmill or the yoga mat or whatever else gets the ol’ heart a-pumping, we may buy into some exercise myths that are actually slowing us down. Enter neurosurgeon and bodybuilder Brett Osborn. Author of the new book Get Serious, A Neurosurgon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness, Osborn debunks the conventional wisdom about exercising that is, well, just wrong.
5 EXERCISE MYTHS YOU NEED TO IGNORE
• More exercise is always better. Everyone wants more muscle and less fat, and conventional wisdom says that hours and hours of exercise will achieve those results. That’s completely wrong. In fact, overkill is not only unnecessary, it can be counterproductive. You’ll get the best results with a strength-training regimen, tailored to meet your needs, which can be accomplished in three to four hours per week.
• More cardio is better than lifting. For all you chronic dieters and cardio enthusiasts out there trying to shed fat, listen up. The right strength-training program can boost your metabolism and help burn off more fat. By increasing lean muscle mass, you will increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Activated, contracting muscles are the body’s furnace. Excessive cardio and dieting can eat away at muscle tissue, compromising this furnace.
• If I lift weights, I’ll look like a man. Never fear, women. Femininity and weight lifting can coexist. Females do not have the hormonal support to pile on a significant amount of muscle mass. You will, however, assume a shapelier figure. In fact, 99.99 per cent of men older than 30 do not have the natural hormonal support to do so either. All elite professional bodybuilders use androgenic agents, including steroids.
• You need to buy product X. We live in a very money-based culture – so much so that we often place the almighty dollar above health. Get out of this mindset, at least regarding exercise. What counts for building muscle? Determination, intensity, consistency and safety. If you think buying the most expensive formula, training uniform or machine is necessary for reaching your potential, you’re wrong. Machines often compromise the intensity required for the body you want.
• CrossFit is a good exercise program. If you want to build muscle, then CrossFit has problems. First, it encourages ballistic movements from novice lifters, and since the program’s rise in popularity, there has been a marked increase in injury rates, which can set fitness goals back by many months. Second, by pounding the body five times a week, you may increase endurance and lose fat, but you’ll also lose muscle. CrossFit encourages overtraining and has been linked to higher incidents of Rhabdomyolysis, or Rhabdo – muscle tissue breakdown leading to the release of muscle fibre contents into the blood and can cause kidney damage. Third, the creators of CrossFit have encouraged the Paleo Diet, a low-insulin diet. Insulin is a necessary part of building muscle.
Brett Osborn is a New York University-trained, board-certified neurological surgeon with a secondary certification in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. Dr. Osborn specializes in scientifically based nutrition and exercise as a means to achieve optimal health and preventing disease. He is the author Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness. Photos by CandaceWest.com