Fitness Myths Destroyed: 16 Experts Give You Advice

Sean Nalewanyj of Seannal.com

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

It's pretty hard to narrow it down to just one, but a very common one would be the idea that you must "eat big to get big".

There's certainly some truth to it, but most lifters who are just starting out and want to bulk up as quickly as possible end up taking it way too literally.

Yes, you do need a caloric surplus in place if you want to make gains at the fastest rate, but your body can only utilize a limited number of excess calories in any given day for the purpose of building new muscle. Stuffing your face with more and more food is not going to magically speed up the muscle building process, and any calories you take in beyond that maximum threshold will simply be diverted to your fat stores.

The goal of proper muscle building nutrition is to consume just enough calories to optimize hypertrophy, and nothing more. A good guideline for most people is to consume around 200-300 calories above their maintenance level per day. That way, the maximum percentage of your calorie intake will be used for lean muscle growth while the minimum amount will end up as body fat.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I make my training, nutrition and supplementation recommendations based off of a variety of factors, including reviewing the actual published research in relation to exercise/nutrition/supplement science, my own training experience, the results seen in having coached thousands of clients over the past 10 years or so, as well as the information put out by others in the industry that I trust who follow a similar "evidence-based" approach to my own.

3) Tell us how you began training. 

I was always pretty thin when I was younger, and it really bothered me. I always wanted to be bigger, but I never really knew what to do or where to start, so I never really made much of an effort. 

One day something in my head just sort of "snapped", and I decided that I didn't care how hard it was, or how long it took, I was going set out and accomplish my goal of achieving a strong and muscular body.

I started with a cheap plastic set of York weights in my basement, and once I started to see visual improvements, I was hooked. Getting into bodybuilding/fitness is one of the best choices I've ever made, and I haven't looked back since then.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

There are a lot of different things I'd say, but the main one that comes to mind would be to keep it simple and not over-analyze things too much. 

As a beginning lifter it's all about getting the fundamentals down rather than worrying about the nitty-gritty details. With so much information available online, the average newbie ends up hopping from one program to the other and one diet to the other and ends up spinning their wheels and not really getting anywhere as a result.

The majority of your results will ultimately be derived from a few basic principles, such as progressive overload, proper exercise form, hitting your overall calorie needs for the day as a whole using a balanced macronutrient split, adequately resting/recovering... so just put your focus on the core fundamentals first and build an overall base of muscle and strength, and focus on the details later when it becomes necessary.

Jeff Nippard of STRCNG.com

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

I would say the idea that there are "good" foods and "bad" foods that are better and worse for fat loss. While it's complicated and some level of nuance is needed to capture everything, it's been well substantiated that for body weight regulation a calorie is a calorie (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15113737). I'd like to see more fitness enthusiasts being more flexible and inclusive, rather than rigid and exclusive when setting up nutrition plans.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

Here are a few essentials:

3) Tell us how you began training.

I began my athletic career with Tae Kwon Do. I earned my black belt when I was 14 or 15 years old at which point I began playing basketball competitively. It was always a goal of mine to dunk and while I was eventually able get my full palm over the rim, I only got to dunking a volleyball before I picked up bodybuilding. Initially my resistance training was centered around improving my vertical leap for basketball. Over a short period of time, I realized I had a genetic predisposition for building muscle at a fairly lean body composition, so I went with my strengths and left basketball for competitive bodybuilding where I won multiple provincial and national titles as a drug free competitor and eventually a pro card in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. 

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first dat you walked into the gym, what advice would you give yourself?

Be patient. Don't expect results too fast and always train with the perspective of an entire lifting career in mind. Injuries can really set one back physically and psychologically and a lot of young lifters get caught up in getting results as fast as possible while they'd be smarter to get results as fast as possible and as sustainably as possible.

Nick Tumminello of Nicktumminello.com

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

That the biggest, strongest or leanest people in the gym are always the most qualified to give smart, safe and reliable training advice/information.  Sometimes they are, but often times they’re not at all!

The reality is, those people have often times achieved the results they have in-spite off what they (think) they know and what they don't know, not because of it. This is because they're gym rats who focus on organizing their lives around kitchens, gyms and bathrooms. So, although they might be a great resource to advise you on the emotional and psychological aspects of disciplined training and dieting, and to share the experiences they’ve had in doing so, they’re often not so great to rely on for the intellectual aspects of training such as an understanding of the principles of biomechanics, physiology that determine how to best individualize a training program based on your goals, abilities and medical profile.

Never forget that most, if not all, of the training myths and misconceptions that continue to swirl around gyms are perpetuated by the biggest, strongest and fittest people in gyms. The fact that these people keep believing bullshit demonstrates my point. And, these myths and misconceptions are kept going by the myth (I'm addressing here) that those people are the best source of exercise and diet info simply because of how much they lift or how they look. However, the reality i'm highlighting here becomes crystal clear when you consider that the more time you’re spending in gyms, kitchens and bathrooms (i.e., on you keeping your own gym-rat card), the less time you’re able to spend on learning the technical and tactical aspects of programming that make you qualified to provide reliable advice and information to other people.

Another way to think about this is to think of Astronauts vs. Astronomers. Astronauts are great to talk with when you want to learn the mental and emotional aspects of going into and being in space, but they're nowhere near as good to talk to as an Astronomerfor devising the smartest and safest path to get you into space and back to earth.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

My top names to go to for reliable and scientifically-founded training and nutrition info are:

  • Bret Contreras
  • Brad Schoenfeld
  • Eric Helms
  • Jim Kielbaso
  • Alan Aragon
  • Marie Spano
  • 3) Tell us how you began training. 

My mother was a bodybuilder in the 80’s. So, that was my first influence into training and physical culture. 

My first job as a personal trainer was at small fitness club. I was fired from that job 😅.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

To not fall for the myth I addressed in the first question.  

Dr. Spencer Nadolsky of Drspencer.com

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

That there is a best diet for weight loss. We aren't at a point where we can test one's genetics and other markers to pick a perfect diet and EVEN if we were, it would still come down to adherence for the person. Pick a diet you can stick to for life.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I have learned from many through the years of my athletic career (wrestled and played football division 1 NCAA). Recently my go to people are Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, Mike Israetel, and Alex Viada. 

3) Tell us how you began training.  

I started young with my brother and dad. Dad was wrestling coach at the high school (and biology teacher). He had a key to the room and we would work out together. I got really into it in high school to propel myself in athletics. See this video of us when I was 7 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YdeSecco-sY 

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Perfect and work on form. Be balanced and work like a mad man to reach your goals (I did the second part luckily).

Suneet Sebastian of Sebastian Fitness Solutions

1)  If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

Oh boy! It’s hard to pick just one! But if I really had to, I’d pick the whole “It worked for me/them”.

Too often people just blind themselves to scientific fact and evidence by over-relying on anecdote. One must realize two things:

I) Just because someone has a great physique does not mean he/she truly knows the ins and outs of what it takes to build one. And more importantly, how to help YOU build one.

Genetics and of course the use of performance enhancing drugs (including but not limited to steroids) can help someone build a world class physique even with nearly ZERO knowledge of proper training and diet. It’s the sad reality of this game but one we must understand so we’re not easily swayed by these people, their results and their “opinions” on how they got them.

II) Just because something “worked” for you doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that could work BETTER.

Seriously, you could be leaving heaps of your untapped potential on the table if you refuse to open your mind to the possibility that there’s a BETTER way to do what you’re currently doing even if what you’re doing right now is “working” for you.

My greatest advice to anyone would be to stop looking at others, their results and most importantly, their “opinions” for answers. Trust in those who tell you not about their achievements but the scientific, evidence based reasons as to why a particular approach may be better. Learn to think critically and always question the advice given to you; no matter who it comes from. And soon you’ll be able to separate the genuinely reliable sources of information from the army of charlatans and pseudo-experts that have plagued this industry.

Remember…Knowledge is POWER.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice?

When I first started getting curious about learning more about training, I looked up various sites and videos online just like anyone else (Google FTW!). However, I realized eventually that most of these were just personal “opinions” and pseudoscience. Even folks who claimed to be scientific or evidence based had their own fair share of dogma and biases that diluted their information.

So, fed up and frustrated with the lack of quality answers from these sources; I decided to just peel back the layers and head into studying pure sciences like Anatomy & Physiology instead. And then applied sciences like Kinesiology & Biomechanics. And then, it was only a matter of applying logic and analysis to break down movements in the gym to understand their effectiveness or lack thereof.

The best thing about this was that it was no longer relevant as to whose book I was reading as this is all standard, textbook information. The origin and insertions of a muscle remains the same no matter which book you reference. So does its function. No “opinions”, just facts.

And then it came to looking into research papers. Not just reading the abstracts but to delve into the full text, read and analyse each word in there and cross reference it with the existing base of knowledge of the core and applied sciences to make informed conclusions out of the results.

And then comes the most important part… APPLYING that knowledge.
The application of that all information not only strengthens your understanding and faith in those sciences but also leads to a lot of practical learning and experience in the field. And that’s where I feel most of my true learning has come from. In APPLYING everything I’ve learned into first my own training and then my clients, to test various theories and their outcomes in the real world.

With that said, while most of my learning has come from my own self exploration; I have had the privilege to learn a LOT from some key individuals in the industry. The first and most prominent amongst them is my mentor – Mr.Kaizzad Capadia. It was his seminar that I attended at the start of my journey which developed this thirst for knowledge in me. And a lot of the concepts in training I propagate today, I have learned from him.  Other prominent names I have learned from either through their own works or through interactions and even debates with them are Lyle McDonald, Brad Schoenfeld, Alan Aragon and Bret Contreras. All highly intelligent and well respected guys in the field of fitness science.

Last but not least, one of the greatest sources of learning for me happens to be my own viewers and followers at my YouTube channel and social pages. The best part about putting information out there and being asked questions about it is the potential to learn something new in the process. I can’t count the number of instances that I have been posed a question by a follower which required me to dig deeper for answers, do more research and sometimes even question my own information which has ultimately led to me learning something new and adding to my knowledge base. I owe a lot of what I know today to these interactions I’ve had with my followers and even my detractors.

The take away message here is that knowledge/learning can come from anywhere; sometimes from even the most unexpected of places. Every interaction you have is an opportunity to learn as long as you’re open and excited enough for it :)

3) Tell us how you began training. 

Honestly, there’s so much to tell here as my journey to training was anything but a linear one. And there’s a lot of backstory to it.

Fortunately, I’ve shared my entire story over a video which delves into the very essence of who I am, how I started my journey and how it made me the person I am today.

At the risk of sounding like I’m self-promoting, I’ll just link the video here for you to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiMZ4WM3Fs0 

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Frankly, I wouldn’t say a thing.

There’s one thing I’ve learned from time-travel movies is that messing with the past can possibly screw up the entire timeline and your existing present. And I certainly wouldn’t want that. Lol.

I feel everything about my journey was crucial in shaping who I am today. I’m glad I went through what I did as a kid - It taught me what I must NOT be and that only I could change my destiny. I’m glad I made those mistakes as a beginner - It taught me the value of knowledge and science. I’m glad to have learned as I grew rather than to have known it all from the beginning – It taught me to cherish and value each new bit of information and every ounce of muscle & strength I earned over the years.  Why on earth would I want to risk changing any of that? :)

So if I had the chance to go back to the first day I walked into the gym, I’d just stand there as a spectator and just watch the whole journey with a big smile on my face. Watch myself grow both mentally and physically. Recap all of my learnings and be brought back to my humble beginnings. Just watch and smile :)

Doug Brignole of Dougbrignole.com 

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

I think the one myth I’d want to clear up is the idea that we must continuously change our exercises around.  All exercises (for a given muscle) have a different value (benefit, efficiency and risk).  They are not all equally productive, nor equally efficient.  Switching from a superior exercise to an inferior exercise - even if it’s “new” - will not produce a better result.

An exercise that rates a “10” (on a scale of 1 to 10) is always better than an exercise that rates a “6”.  A person is far better off doing the one exercise that rates a “10” - always - than they would be if they rotated four exercises that rated a “7”, “8”, “9” and “10”.  And there are very few exercises that have the ideal biomechanical components to rate a “10”.

 However, the problem is that without understanding what makes one exercise “superior” or “inferior” - without understanding the biomechanics of each exercise - a person is just guessing at which exercise is better or worse. 

That’s why I wrote my book - “The Physics of Fitness” - so people can know how to choose the better exercises, and get more benefit with less energy cost and less injury risk.  Then, they can spend less time in the gym, incur fewer (or no) injuries, and get a better result.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I don’t have one source for information, and no one should.  Training (fitness) involves at least three areas of science - exercise physiology, biomechanics and nutrition.  I’m an expert in biomechanics (although there always more to learn), but I’m not an expert in physiology and nutrition.

I have a pretty good sense about both of those fields, but I don’t understand them nearly as well as someone who specializes in one or the other.  So, I read a lot, and do my own online research.  I also do my own testing on things.  I might try a zero fat diet for a while, and then I’ll try a zero carb diet for a while.  I’ll do high reps exclusively for a while, and then I’ll do low reps (heavy weight) exclusively for a while.  Everyone should do this.  Read, study and conduct your own experiments.

When seeking answers to fitness-related questions, I always recommend that you ask “why?”.  I recommend against embracing advice that is NOT accompanied by an explanation.  This is why I always explain the “why”, when recommending an exercise, or discouraging people from doing a particular exercise.  There are a lot of people out there giving advice, without any rationale for their recommendations.  That rationale needs to be sensible, scientific and logical.

3) Tell us how you began training.

I was 14 years old, and skinny.  I wanted to gain weight, but not fat weight.  I was advised by a junior high school coach to lift weights, so that I could gain muscle weight.  I had my mom buy me one of those home barbells sets (plastic, cemented-filled weights), and an adjustable bench.  After about a year of that - at the age of 15 - I went to a local gym.  I couldn’t afford membership, so I made an arrangement with the owner, in which I would clean the gym on the weekends, and earn my membership that way.

The owner of that gym was 4-time Mr. Universe winner, Bill Pearl.  After a year of training there, I competed in my first bodybuilding contest.  I was 16 years old.  I place 2nd, and was hooked.  I loved it.  By the time I was 19, I had won Teenage Mr. California and Teenage Mr. America.

I continued competing - winning Mr. California at the age of 22, Mr. America and Mr. Universe at the age of 26, and a number of other competitions after that.  I competed for a total of 40 years.  I just retired this past November, at the age of 56, placing 7th in the World Championship.

Along the way, I studied obsessively about biomechanics.  I even attended cadaver dissections.  The whole time, my motivation was to improve my ability to compete, and to train in the most efficient way possible.  I never intended to be an information provider.  In fact, I hardly even realized there was a market for the information I was learning.  Most of the time, I assumed everyone else knew the same thing.

Now I realize that many people don’t know the first thing about biomechanics.  Most people just “go with the flow” - they just do what they see other people doing in the gym, and this even includes competitive bodybuilders.  They know what some muscles do, but they don’t know what most muscles do - and there are a lot of myths about how to develop this or that.  Part of the problem is that the industry has become so commercialized, that everyone is trying to sell fitness advice - even those who have very little understanding of the science behind it all.

It’s nice to now have the opportunity to pass along what I’ve learned during my 40 year trajectory of being in the bodybuilding trenches.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give?

Well, knowing what I know now, I’d give that younger version of me the book I just finished writing - “The Physics of Fitness” - which explains how resistance training works, in terms of levers and physics.  It would be nice to be introduced into weight lifting (bodybuilding / fitness) having all the CORRECT information, instead of all the mis-information that still exists.

Fortunately, I started realizing very early that there better ways and worse ways to lift weights.  That may seem obvious, but there is a universal set of principles that one can apply across the board, to all exercises - and that’s what’s been missing.  

In other words, if someone says, “here’s a better way to do a Bench Press”, there has to a reason (or a number of reasons) why it’s “better” - and those reasons must be applicable to all the other exercises.  It’s either always good, or always bad, to have a lever (a limb) be in this position, or in that position.  It’s either always good, or always bad, to have a direction of resistance pulling in the opposite direction as a muscle’s origins.  

These are the types of principles which must be invoked, any time someone declares that an exercise should be done like this, or like that - or if someone says, “this is a really good exercise”.  The “why” must be known.  And this is what I explain in my book - the principles which determine what makes an exercise good, or not.

You can also send Doug an email at this link.

Chris Duffin (world record holder in powerlifting) of Kabuki Strength

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

There is so much wrong with what is promoted in the fitness world today I would be doing a disservice by creating a simple answer that fit this question.  Quality of movement is king and must be had before adding progressive load.  But people either take that to far and never add load but more often than not knowing what quality movement is and how to achieve it is not taught across the industry.  Even our major certifying agencies and higher end education do not teach this in regards to dealing with load.  This is the whole fundamentals of our KMS strategy.  

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I work with a lot of professionals in very specific fields so I don't have a central place to go.  Names of people I follow would be Charile Weingroff, Stuart McGill, Craig Liebenson, Donnie Thompson, Brad Cox, Kelly Starrett, Phillip Snell, Patrick Ward.  Many of these can be found on our podcast strengthchat

3) Tell us how you began training.

I had a physically active upgrading with chopping wood and hauling rocks as a work I did regularly.  I started lifting in the high school weight room in 8th grade because I was the nerd (ended up being class valedictorian) but wanted to balance intelligence with strength.  Other than an a couple years of on and off lifting in college I've been at it ever since and turning 40 in a couple months.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give?

I don't know that there is anything I could tell myself.  The information and methodology I promote around how I want to see strength training change in the world today simply wasn't available in that era.  I couldn't have pointed myself in the right direction.  Other than to treat the training and movement process just as I treated the engineering, research, and continuous improvement efforts I lead during my career.  

Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes of Alexanderjuanantoniocortes.com

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

That diet and exercise are all there is to being "healthy". Health is lifestyle, its your job, your relationships, your attitude, your aptitude to learn

Narrowing getting health you just diet and just exercise is why people struggle. Approach health as hole and learn the pieces, dont try to learn two pieces out of many and believe that it solves for all the rest

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

As of right now with my own training? Nobody. I train alone, learn alone, and I do my own programs, alone. Always have. Training is how I worship, and my training is between me the Gods of Iron. 

Relative to training clients, Clients are the best teachers. So they are number one. 

That said, knowledge obviously doesnt come out of a vacuum. So I have to go in stages for this one.

In Years 1-4, I read EVERYTHING. Just think a somewhat "known" person in the fitness sphere, I read all their shit. I read everything on elitefts, I read everything in tnation, I even read bodybuilding.com. If someone was popular, Id read it. 

And thats just the internet. I bought around books a month for 4 years, I asked for books as gifts. I had a hundred by the end of it: Training, diets, pop diet psychology, anything biology related that seemed relevant 

Around year 5, I had a much more objective view that:

-Much of this was recycled 

-If the content was written by a credentialed person with at least 10 years experience on the subject matter, I tossed it. That swiftly eliminated 90% of stuff, believe it or not

Last Year and this Year, lets say Year 8-I realized the Biology was based on principle, and training could be learned as an art, and that science was not "science", but rather a philosophy of how to view life/problems/nature as a whole

So I read maybe a fitness article a week just for funsies, but mostly at this point I study a lot of philosophy, business, and psychology

As for "people to read" in regards to learning the training side of things, this is no particular order. 

1. Dave Tate(Elitefts as a whole has amazing resources) 

2. John Meadows (his article series on Tnation is still unparalleled) 

3. Scott Abel (read EVERYTHING) 

4. Mike Israetel (Renaissance Periodization puts out great stuff) 

5. Nick Tumminello (most practical man in the field. He's one of 3-4 people Id actually ask about training opinions, if I ever asked)

6. Ian King (criminally unknown in the US, but hes a pioneer in the S&C field) 

7. Marty Gallagher (His book Purposeful Primitive is the only book Ive ever gifted people) 

8. Vince Gironda (No books, but PDFs floating around all over the web, the man was ahead of his time) 

9. John Berardi (the whole Precision Nutrition Crew is great) 

10. Swede Burns (this man can TEACH. Ive watched him coach in person, he's a master, and his training system 5th Set is the only one Id ever recommend for powerlifting, . He's also wickedly intelligent and writes beautiful prose) 

11. Paul Carter (Man walks the walk and talks the talk and lifts the weights. He's both pragmatic and keenly philosophical, a rare combination) 

3) Tell us how you began training.

A girl called me skinny. She was pretty. She said "omg, your skinny like Jack Skellington" 

I got a gym membership the very next day.

Thank you Nicole

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Not a goddamn thing. My attitude was one that I listened to no one and always learned things of my own accord. So there is nothing to say on that one. 

Menno Henselmans of Bayesian Bodybuilding

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

There are so many, it's hard to choose. Given the time of year, I'm going with the myth that you need to do cardio to get lean. As per my article on cardio, cardio can have serious negative effects on the body composition of a strength trainee and its positive effects purely relate to energy expenditure. You can get the same or better result by just consuming fewer calories.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I pretty much only read scientific literature. If it's not fully referenced, I rarely read it. Some good guys in the industry that I've personally met and can vouch for are Borge Fagerli, Eric Helms, Brad Schoenfeld, Alan Aragon, Greg Nuckols and Bret Contreras. I'm probably forgetting some here, but that's a good starting list.

3) Tell us how you began training. 

I've always been into sports. At some point this naturally transitioned into weight training. Sports had to give way for life stuff, like moving house, but I never stopped training in the gym. I loved the independence and the physical and mental improvements derived from my time in the gym.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

"Don't waste your time on stretching, cardio and 'functional training': focus on getting strong and lean and you'll become all those things that you want to be much sooner."

Greg Nuckols of Strengtheory

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

The notion of one-size-fits-all approaches.  Not everyone needs to training the same way, diet the same way, etc.  The same applies to results – some people put in a little bit of effort and get outsized results.  Other people put in a ton of effort with very little to show for it.  People are different, and often more different than we realize.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

Athletes and coaches who've accomplished what I want to accomplish, textbooks, and scientific journal articles.  I don't really visit many fitness-related websites anymore.  The signal:noise ratio on most is too low.

3) Tell us how you began training.

I played basketball, and wanted to get more explosive for the sport, so I started lifting.  I enjoyed lifting immediately, and when I was done with competitive sports, it was a smooth transition to powerlifting.

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Don't take quite as many risks.  I've been injured more times than I should have been, and my body's accumulated more wear and tear than it should have at this point.  As I've gotten older, I've learned when to push it, and when to live to fight another day.  When I was younger, that wasn't the case.

Philip Stefanov of Thinking Lifter

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be? 

This is a tough one. There are just so many.. I would say: Following stupid and generic workout programs designed for the masses and expecting them to deliver great results for you.

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

My 2 go-to sources for information are strengtheory.com by Greg Nuckols and strengthandconditioningresearch.com by Chris Beardsley and Bret Contreras.

3) Tell us how you began training.

I began as most self-conscious 17-year-old dudes do. I was fat and unhappy and one day decided to change that for the better. Best decision of my life.

4. If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give?

I would give myself the advice to be more patient with training and nutrition because change doesn't happen overnight as I so naively used to believe.

Jordan Syatt of Syatt Fitness

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

That you need to be sore for your workout to be "effective." There's nothing wrong with being sore. It's normal and common. But issues arise when people seek out workouts that make them sore because they think soreness inherently makes it a good workout.

Not true.

Soreness is normal and common. But it doesn't mean your workout was "effective." The only way to know if your workouts are effective are based on your results (fat loss, muscle gain, strength, performance, how you look in the mirror, etc).

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

Eric Cressey.

3) Tell us how you began training. 

I started wrestling at 8 years old and ever since I've been hooked :)

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Don't ever stop having fun. Ever. Too many people start training because they love it and then it turns into a source of stress and anxiety because they think they aren't making progress quickly enough. Screw that. Go in and have fun. Enjoy your workouts. Laugh and smile and don't take yourself too seriously.

Mike Israetel of Renaissance Periodization

1. If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

Easy! The "Naturalistic Fallacy aka Argument from Nature." Its the idea that what is natural must be good for you and what is artificial must be bad. In fact, that's not a hard rule that you can use, and soooo many folks fall for myths such as Organic and Anti-GMO because of it.

2.) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

Because I am a scientist myself, I mostly read primary literature (the studies themselves). However, when I was not yet an expert, I went to textbooks! Brad Schoenfeld's "Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy" is a great read as well as "Principles and Practice of Resistance Training" by Dr. Mike Stone and Colleagues.

3) Tell us how you began training.

I began lifting weights at the end of my freshman year of high school so that I could get stronger for wrestling. It worked! But I loved the gym so much, I ended up doing more gym time than wrestling time!

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into the gym, what advice would you give? 

Hmmmm. I'd say "take an easy week of training every 6 weeks." If I did that early on, I'd not be as beat up as I am today!

Brad Dieter of Science Driven Nutrition

1. If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be?

I think I would destroy the idea that everyone needs to diet. We really abuse the dieting concept and I think there are far better ways to get results than just having people diet all the time

2. Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I go two places:

1) PubMed. Peer reviewed research is essential in having an accurate understanding in how things work and which things actually work. This is the best tool to stay on the forefront of knowledge and to put your own biases to rest.

2) Colleagues. Peer reviewed research is great but some of it isn’t very applicable. Coaching is an art and learning from experience is something that you can’t really understand the value of until you have gone through the experience. This is why I ask a lot of questions of my colleagues.

3. Tell us how you began training.

I began training out of necessity. Basketball was my first love and I was tiny, I needed to get bigger, stronger, and faster so I started lifting. Seeing the progress in the gym translate to the court hooked me and I have been doing it ever since.

4. If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into a gym, what advice would you give?

Don’t try to make progress too fast. You will hurt yourself. I can’t tell you how many times it took me getting hurt trying to push myself too hard, too fast, for too long before I learned this.

Adam Sinicki of The Bioneer

1) If you could destroy one fitness/training myth, which one would it be? 

That’s a tough question with so many to choose from! I might be tempted to go with the notion that you’re doing weight training wrong if it hurts. Sure, it shouldn’t be diabolically pain but a little bit of pain is a good sign if you’re aiming for growth. It either means you have a build-up of metabolites or you’re creating microtears – both key stimuli for growth. There’s a reason that phrases like ‘no pain no gain’ have been around for decades. The key is in learning to identify the ‘right kind’ of pain and if you can do that, then you can make every workout count in minimal time. It sure beats ‘going through the motions’ on a workout and no breaking a sweat. 

2) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I go all over the web for training advice and also get ideas from friends! One of my favourite websites at the moment is Breaking Muscle and I also enjoy Tim Ferriss’ podcast and watch plenty of YouTube. I like to pull at threads though – normally I get a random question about training and then see where it leads. For that I’ll often use Google Scholar to see if there has been any research on the subject.

3) Tell us how you began training.

A few things prompted me to start training. I was probably around 13 and I was inspired to start martial arts by a combination of Jackie Chan movies (Who Am I was the first film I owned on DVD), Shenmue (a game for the Dreamcast) and Dragon Ball Z. Working out seemed like a natural fit and I was encouraged by my Granddad (a step Granddad actually, whom I had just met) who had military training and created some strange workouts for me. I took to it quite well and found it fairly easy to gain muscle naturally. Then one day I watched Exit Wounds (with Steven Seagal) and decided I was going to work out every week for the rest of my days. And I pretty much did!

4) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into a gym, what advice would you give? 

I remember my first proper attempt at training in the gym - I decided to do about 1,000 reps on a really light setting on the pec deck (I had no idea what I was doing!). I could barely move my arms the next day! So I’d tell myself not to do that lol.

I’d also encourage myself to spend more time training the triceps, delts and legs. Like most people, I started out focusing on only the muscles that were already naturally strong and I would have had a much better physique earlier on if I hadn’t have done that.

Jon Goodman of The PTDC

1) Who/where do you go to for training advice/info?

I don't really go to anybody who would be considered experts in the fitness information ecosystem. One of the reasons that I love traveling is so that I can seek out local experts.

When we were in Costa Rica last year we worked out with someone named Ricardo who owned a company called Nosara Functional Fitness. It was like a random workout in the jungle. He literally worked around his area that he had and whatever equipment and made up stuff on the spot. He had a lot of stuff that wasn't heavy weight. He had some kettle bells, but beyond that some clubs, TRX, mats, and a bunch of monkey bar type equipment.

I learned a ton from that. Aside from the exercises, which were a lot of bodyweight type exercises that I had done before, what I learned from that experience, kind of letting myself go and learning and participating, was how to really work hard and not think as much about what you're doing.

When Alice (my wife) and I went to Hawaii we joined Kilauea Crossfit on the north shore of Kauai for a month. It was kind of a similar experience. I had never done Crossfit before in any consistent way. We joined for a month and said, "we're going to do whatever these people tell us to do."

They were going into an olympic lifting program for that month. So we did Crossfit olympic lifting for a month. I didn't really love the olympic lifting stuff, but again, it was very different than anything I had done before.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't really go to anybody specifically for information. Instead, I'm confident enough and comfortable enough with exercise that I kind of know what I can and can't do, and what feels right for my body and what doesn't.

Whenever I go anywhere I try to just move a different way. Learn different things from local experts and give myself into that. I think I probably gain a lot more from that than seeking information. If I were to seek out information then I would seek out information that I already agree with and liked.

2) Tell us how you began training.

Hind sight is 20/20. I don't really remember. I remember bits and pieces of it and I'll try to put it together, but It's hard to remember what I was thinking at the time.

It was the local YMCA and I was 14 or 15 years old at that point. I had been athletic my whole life, but was small and not particularly good at sports. So, I was never that good, but always worked hard and kept at it. So I was able to play competitive ice hockey.

Competitive ice hockey when you're 13, 14, or 15 means that it's full contact. Some of the kids are much bigger than others because they've gone through various stages of puberty. I was not so lucky. I was one of the smaller kids. Fortunately, i was reasonably fast and agile, but even then I'd get crushed every once in a while. 

I distinctly remember one time I was able to reground somebody and score a goal and all of a sudden some goon, while I was celebrating the goal, came across and checked me in the face. I decided at some point that I wanted to lift weights and I really don't know why.

Looking back, it was probably to stop getting beaten up in hockey. Might've been for more common reasons around that age. I wanted to get laid by girls and I thought that would help. I thought that was what girls liked. I guess I thought that was what girls liked for a long time after that.

I went with my dad who was a member at the local YMCA in Toronto (where I'm from), and I got a membership. I looked at the weights. There were two separate weight racks. One went to 15 pounds and the other started at 20 pounds. I remember dreaming that one day I'd be able to lift the 20 pound weights.

That was how I began training. I started to go there after school every day with two of my friends, Trevor Tran and Brandon Francis. Still talk to Trav quite a bit. We would go multiple times a week. We'd walk to the gym and just kind of screw around.

3) If you could talk to yourself on the first day you walked into a gym, what advice would you give?

I don't remember what I was thinking. I think I had a false level of confidence. I remember that we used to make up nicknames for all the big guys in the gym. We could one guy with a pony tail Gaston and another guy Goggles. I think we did that to make ourselves more comfortable.

I guess the advice I would give myself is to be patient. I don't really know what I was doing back then or what it looked like, I remember the preacher curl, for example, I would put like 25 pounds on the end of it, and that's what I do now on the preacher curl. I don't know what I was doing when I started working out, but my guess is my form wasn't that good.

I think, be patient. Like anybody who starts an exercise program, I wanted things to happen really quickly. I still do with a lot of the things that I do. I've realized now, the best things in life take a lot of time and the process is what's important. If I could go back to, and think what I really remember about those times, it wasn't so much lifting weights or the results from lifting weights. I quickly stopped caring about sports and started caring about weight lifting much more. It was the time spent and the bonding time with my friends. Like I said, walking with Brandon and Trav to the gym after school multiple times per week and a couple of other people who started to join us.

It was those experiences that, looking back, I probably enjoyed more. But that wasn't, of course, what I would've told myself. So, it's be patient and enjoy the process more than I did at the time. But, I was also 15, going through puberty, and in high school. I don't know what the heck I was thinking. It probably wasn't all that intelligent.

Wilfredo Thomas