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September 17, 2019

037 | 5 Fitness Beliefs I Used To Have & Disagree w/ Now

5 fitness beliefs I used to have with Annie Miller

5 things I used to believe about fitness

I feel like today’s episode is one that I could do every three to five years. I say that because the field of health and fitness changes SO FAST.

There are always new trends, and new info about old trends. So for now, I believe what I believe, but I am sure some of that will change in the future as I learn more and challenge my current beliefs. On that note, if you’re a coach and you don’t question your beliefs, I encourage you to do so. It will make you a better coach for sure.

Alright, let’s get into number 1 of 5 – things I used to believe in fitness.

Number 1 has to do with cardio. And I bet you believed this too or maybe you still do believe it.

Either way… 

Number 1 – Cardio ruins your muscle gains and is how you get skinny/lose fat

I used to think that if you did long steady state cardio, it would eat your muscle, or you wouldn’t be able to build muscle.

It was my theory that you would be building type b slow twitch muscle fiber types, which would impede on all your work in the gym building more type x fast twitch muscle fibers. I didn’t think you could do both.

I was fine with lifting in combination with high intensity explosive mediums of cardio but never long steady state cardio.

This was really until four or five years ago when CrossFit came about. I began questioning my own philosophy. These humans were lifting ALL OF THE WEIGHT and also running miles. And they most definitely weren’t losing their muscle or their strength gains.

I began to dig deeper into the physiology and found that you can in fact make strength gains and do long term steady state low intensity cardio. It’s really more about the goals of the trainee, use of time, and fuel intake when it comes to keeping those gains.

That kind of leads into the similar belief that cardio was only for fat loss or to get skinny.

This belief was largely influenced by the industry as a whole.

Once I found energy systems development and heart rate training my view of “cardio” was forever changed.

As far as fat burning or weight loss goes, you can do cardio simply to increase your caloric deficit. That’s about it.

My current beliefs about cardio are far more complex. I don’t even call it cardio. If I have clients do “cardio,” it’s based on heart rate and recovery. And it’s largely to improve overall aerobic or anaerobic capacity.

Or, if people enjoy cardio like running or boxing or cycling, great, do it. If you want strength and muscle gains, make sure you’re eating accordingly. I work alongside working against gravity and have a link for my clients to use if they are seeking nutritional coaching.

Moving on to number 2.

Number 2 – One Size Fits all Form (aka what led to my disc injury)

Having the mentality that 👉🏽 “One size fits all form” is exactly what led to my disc injury. The particular belief was about form was that your toes must be straight forward on squats, and you must squat ass to grass. It’s not Kelly Starrett’s fault. I was a young strength coach and had a very black and white belief system within movement. I likely took what the experts said as PURE GOLD and didn’t question it.

On a personal level that lead to squatting with a narrow stance, toes forward, knees out THE FURTHEST, ass to grass regardless of what my pelvic awareness or mobility allowed.

I don’t suggest this methodology.

It wasn’t just squats. I believed in perfect movement patterns and all humans needing to strive for the SAME movement patterns. 

Needless to say I do not believe that now. In fact my injury was what really opened my eyes to this new, more open, less black and white beliefs around movement.

My standards for movement patterns are now much more based around what is comfortable for the trainee + making sure the basic mechanics are in place.

Let’s make sure mobility is up to par, bracing and foot contact is understood. We can build a pattern from there.

I encourage coaches to identify non-negotiables when it comes to a movement pattern.

I also encourage “buffer zones” and ranges vs. absolutes. Sticking with the squats as an example – your feet can be shoulder width to significantly outside shoulders, toes can be straight forward, or to 30 degrees turned out. AS LONG AS (blank) ___ enter non-negotiable, knees are tracking with toes, whole foot is planted, spine is *mostly* neutral etc.

You get the idea. Let’s move on to number 3.

This is one that I discussed a month ago on Instagram and got some interesting conversations from.

Number 3 – Foam rolling was 100% necessary and it broke up adhesions (this was my LIFE in 2015)

The science simply does not support this you guys. Here are my current thoughts about foam rolling in short:

  • If you’re using it to “recover” – the most recovery thing you’re doing is MAYBE increasing circulation – but your muscles themselves are not recovering from damage done via training any better because of foam rolling. Sleep, drink water, eat enough protein. (The trifecta!)
  • If you’re using foam rollers to increase mobility or flexibility, in short, you’re not. Static stretching is more beneficial for increasing passive flexibility. Actively strengthening your end ranges is how you increase mobility. Not foam rolling.
  • If you’re using it for the parasympathetic relaxation response from your brain and pain receptors, great. Just know that’s what you’re doing.

I am not against foam rolling 100%. I am simply FOR people understanding what is actually happening when they foam roll. It really comes down to use of time for me. And when it comes to people using foam rollers, I simply think there are better uses of people’s time.

But again, like I said, if it feels good, and you want to do it just because it feels good, or you’re going to follow it up with actual mobility work, then you go glen coco.

Number 4 is kind of an off shoot of number 2.

Remember Number 2 was “One size fits all form”.

Number 4 – Everyone needed to do full range of motion always.

Honestly – I do think if a human CAN use full range of motion, and has the capacity to do so, then they should, right? Now, that is still a blanket statement and there are a lot of things that need to be considered.

I am referring to full range of motion with proper load, tempo and volume.

But if you don’t have full range of motion and it doesn’t limit your life, cool, work with it. There are people who have had surgeries or injuries that no longer allow them full range of motion, but they don’t have pain and it doesn’t limit their life, so I really don’t push for full range of motion.

I don’t think pushing into end ranges while compensating somewhere else is the goal of movement. And that compensation is what happens often times when we force people into end ranges that they do not actually have.

This again, goes back to my squatting pattern that up and busted my back. I did not need to be squatting ass to grass to get the benefit of squatting under load. You feel me?

If your ankles dorsiflexion is 3.5 inches and standard or “passing” is 4.5 inches, you’re probs fine. But, if you want to work on it, great. If not, you don’t have pain and your movement is not impaired, move along my friend.

That’s really it for number 4.

So, number 5. I have to laugh at myself here a bit because I am realizing now that most of these came through the rehab process after my back injury. Which I know I’ve mentioned, but it’s like I just had a revelation.


Number 5 – You should never train or load spinal flexion or extension (always neutral spine)

While the others came about in the rehab process, number 5 really came about 3 years AFTER I had rehabbed my back. Because in the rehab process I worked religiously on finding and bracing a neutral spine. This was a large contributing factor of my injury and for 3 weeks after the injury I didn’t enter spinal flexion or extension via docs orders.

I do think this was necessary for my recovery process BUT it also instilled a fear mindset around lumbar spine mobility.

The result of my rehab was an increased squat 3 RM by nearly 40 pounds, and a really freaking strong core. But I was left with this extreme training philosophy that there is no need to train the spine in flexion or extension AND that this would lead to injury if you did.

That is simply not true. Remember everything has to do with CONTEXT.

It wasn’t until I was watching the Olympics in 2016 that I realized how mobile the spine was meant to be. That is not to say we should all move like Olympic athletes (we shouldn’t and we can’t). But we don’t function in life with a neutral spine and it is detrimental to do so.

I do still believe when it comes to moving loads and lifting weights there are some progressions that can be beneficial. And it depends on the person, their injury history and their goals.

But all in all, I no longer think strengthening or loading the spine in flexion or extension is signing your life over to satan.

I just happen to think mobility is the basis of movement, and it depends on the human.

That’s it friends. That wraps up the 5 things I used to believe in fitness.

Maybe you used to or still do believe some of the same things. I hope I explained WHY I no longer believe those things. And you of course are free to have and form your own beliefs.

If you find value here on The FITSPRO Podcast, then pretty please head over to iTunes to Subscribe, Rate and Review the show. It means the world to me when you spread my message to more humans.

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5 fitness beliefs I used to have with Annie Miller

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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