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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 1 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 1 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

“Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth.”
– Dr. Joseph Geobbels, Propaganda Minister of the Third Reich


This month’s post is part one of a multi-part series where we will discuss the biggest lies in the fitness world that absolutely need to die. I started this dialog online a few weeks back and it certainly made for some festive conversations! In our next few blog posts, we will break down some of these topics, and try to present some food-for-thought. Here are some of the topics we’ll be visiting in the next few posts:

  1. Lifting heavy weights makes you bulky, muscle-bound, and huge.
  2. Skipping breakfast makes you fat.
  3. Doing lots of different exercises to “confuse your muscles” is more effective than a more focused approach.

If you’ve heard these lies so many times that you’re starting to actually believe they are true, and would like to hear a real evidence-based argument, I encourage you to read on…

Lie #1: Lifting weights makes you bulky and huge.
Truth: Cupcakes make you bulky and huge.

Ok… Ok… That’s not true. How about this… Stuffing your face with excessive amounts of calories, especially high-calorie/low-nutrient foods, makes you bulky and huge.

I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but I have internet access on a fairly regular basis. Actually, so do most other coaches… so even if you work with someone other than me, the following truth still holds: When you post your entire life on social media, we can see it.

One of the small pieces of entertainment in my life is looking at all the food porn that is being posted by people who have approached me at some point in the past regarding weight loss. I wonder if they know that I can see these posts? The only thing that is more entertaining is when these are the same people that claim it is the lifting of weights that is making them gain weight.

“Certainly it’s not the food, Jerry! My eating habits are PERFECT.”

Despite extensive data proving otherwise, this lie is still perpetuated on a national scale by people such as ‘Celebrity trainer to the stars’ Tracy Anderson. She is known for such gems as, “Women should never lift more than three pound weights or they’ll get bulky.” This was a quote from an interview, by the way, that has been removed from her website after the court of public opinion slammed her for such idiocy. Nonetheless, this opinion still lingers… especially amongst women. I’ve never understood the thought process behind a woman who tells me she refuses to lift any weight bigger than ten pounds, then goes home and lifts their 35-pound kid or brings a 40 pound bad of dog food from the car to the house. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:

If you go to the gym and lift weights that are lighter than the things you lift in your life, save some money and cancel your membership.

Here is a photo of one of our students, Dennise Larios:


She’s lifting 205 pounds in this photo… a weight that a de-conditioned man would have difficulty lifting. She is barely 5 feet tall, 97 pounds, and has been competing in powerlifting for 3 years. Meaning… she has been doing program after program after program of lifting heavy stuff for three straight years. She also happens to hate anything involving cardio. When she started, a 53-pound kettlebell was, “very heavy.” Her bodyweight back then? 110 pounds. That’s right, she was small when she started, and is now even smaller.

I’m sure Tracy Anderson has never heard of Dennise, but if she did, how would she explain her? Dennise is a walking contradiction to her “Tracy Anderson Method” that has sold millions of dollars in exercise books and videos. I wonder if Ms. Anderson would re-think some of the stuff she believes? Probably not.

“I acknowledge your data-backed position on <insert topic> even though it is different from mine, and will use the evidence you provided to carefully re-examine my opinion of said topic,” said no one on social media ever.

With that aside, how DO we explain Dennise? What prevented her from blowing up like a balloon? Well, first and foremost, Dennise has mostly her parents to thank. Genetics decided how tall she was going to be and what kind of frame she would have. HOWEVER, the gift her parents gave her DOES stop at how much extra body fat Dennise decides to carry around. That, my friends, is up to Dennise. This brings us to our second, and most critically important controllable factor, food habits.

You’re not going to believe this: She has a caloric intake that is typical of a woman her size. Crazy, I know.

If anything, she can get away with eating a little more due to the energy expenditure of her training. But let’s be clear: A little more, not a lot more. The fact that she has actually lost weight while lifting heavy stuff tells us that it’s unlikely her eating habits have changed much. And if you asked her, she’d probably confirm that.

The experience Dennise has had in her journey is not unique. In our system, we can cite dozens and dozens of women who have used serious strength training as a tool to not only lose weight, but also change their body composition to be leaner and healthier.


In other words, ‘skinny’ should not be a desirable body type. It infers frailty, and as one ages this becomes far more of a liability than an asset. As Mark Reifkind says, “Strong always feels good.”

The moral to this story is there will always be problems when someone makes sweeping generalizations involving words like “always” and “never.” I understand that there are people who are working hard in the gym trying to make positive changes for themselves, get discouraged, and claim that lifting weights is the thing that is keeping them from trimming down. For those people, I urge you to consider something: All activity, including lifting weights and even sitting or sleeping, is an energy expending activity (‘energy out’). The only ‘energy in’ activity we participate in as humans is eating and drinking calories. The first law of thermodynamics (also known as the Law of Energy Conservation) tells us that energy contained in a system must equal the energy coming into it minus the energy going out of it. This is a common sense idea. Any theory that seeks to explain why we get fat and how can we lose weight must ultimately derive from this principle. If an organism is expending energy out, and no energy is going in, it will become smaller. In layman’s terms, You are not special. The laws of thermodynamics apply to you, and are in the same category as the law of gravity. Argue if you’d like, but it makes you sound silly. If you can explain how to get bigger without energy going in, I’d love to hear about it. Again, I’m open to exploring this.

If the paragraph above was too “sciency” for you, here’s an easier answer: If you want to get bigger, squat heavy and eat more. If you want to get smaller, squat heavy and eat less.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman – Senior SMK Instructor

Jerry is the owner and founder of The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, a fitness facility and coaching program specializing in teaching people how to move better and become stronger. With over a decade of experience, Jerry has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, then distilling those answers into practical programs that produce great results. He provides workshops, clinics, and kettlebell certifications all over the world through the UK-based company, Strength Matters, and writes “The Healthy Addiction” blog which has thousands of readers world-wide. For more information, please visit theprotocolsc.com

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