1. You can do a couch to marathon in 6-8 months.
Any serious fitness professional will tell you this is not advisable. Any marathon plan that is designed for around six months is for runners who have been putting in about 20 miles of running a week for the past year. Moreover, a foundation of stable muscles should be built before you take on this endeavor safely. You may have seen friends do marathons recently, but that does not mean it is a healthy thing to do. I have seen numerous people win the battle of finishing a marathon, only to have muscle and joint pain for the next year because they were unprepared for distance.
2. Lifting weights two to three hours a week will make you “too” bulky.
I regularly get people saying “I don’t want to be too bulky” on day one of CrossFit or personal training. Whatever the individual’s definition of “too bulky” is, it won’t happen via casual CrossFit classes or lifting twice a week. This misconception is exacerbated by all of the images on TV, in magazines, on the internet, etc, of fit athletes gaining fame for their physique or athletic achievements. Gaining large amounts of muscle takes a lot of work and does not happen by accident. The many images you likely see are of people who lift heavy weights for two hours at least three days a week, have been for many years, and consume way more calories than the average person. They are most likely constantly sore and are purposefully seeking the physical adaptations that come with intense strength training. I must emphasize – it does not happen by accident. It also does not happen overnight. It is something that happens gradually over many years. and by the time it happens, you will be so happy with how strong and capable you are, that you won’t mind. Or maybe you do, so then do cardio for a few months and it will go away.
3. (In the same vein as the above advice) Eating until you’re full, three times a day, is enough to gain muscle mass for a “hard gainer.”
A hard gainer is someone who has a difficult time adding muscle mass. One of the questions I received while doing a fitness expert phone bank for ABC7 was how to increase one’s muscle mass. It is a question that is often asked to people in the fitness industry. To gain weight you have to eat a lot and lift a lot. Typically, the hard gainers underestimate how much they actually need to eat to put on mass. The answer to how much food someone who is struggling to gain weight is: more calories than what you are eating. In many cases, it can be a thousand more calories per day. The reason this advice is in the same vein as #2 is because of the effort it can take. You may have to feel full all day long, and eat when you are still full from your previous meal. Eating a lot of food is expensive as well, so sacrifices may need to be made. If it is your goal, it is doable. Just remember that like marathon training, know that it is tough, and do not pursue it lightly. (Also if this is your goal, some valuable advice I received from a Donny Shankle seminar to keep costs low is buying a crockpot and rice cooker. The food will go a long way.
The above misconceptions are a few of the most common I see as a fitness professional. The principle that links them all is: fitness goals take effort, time, and most of all consistency. Keep that idea in mind and you are well on your way to making your goals as well. Always set short-term goals to help you stay motivated for the long-term ones i.e. a marathon. Keep up the good work and, if you have questions, please feel free to ask advice anytime. I’ll address the questions personally on another blog or video.