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Fitness Magazines: Providing Quality Mis-information Since 1936

When I was a teenager I learned everything about working out from Muscle and Fitness, Mens’ Health, Flex, and various other monthly publications. Not all of the information was total garbage but even at that naive age I started to question some of the advice that was given. Whether it was advising 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight (meaning I would need 450 grams a day), or extolling the virtues of horrible exercises designed to “lose your love handles” my trust in the information provided dropped off very quickly. Take a look at this article and see for yourself.


Here is a list of things that are blatantly wrong in this article:

1. You can’t spot reduce fat by targeting a specific area. Your genetics will determine where your body stores fat and it will tend to be removed from the areas that it was last stored.

2. The dumbbell side bend mainly works your quadratus lumborum, a muscle that inserts onto the pelvis, and originates from your lowest rib and the 4 transverse processes of your L1-L4 vertebrae. It is arranged directly in line with the forces required to perform this movement while your oblique muscles, the muscles that virtually every single person doing this exercise is trying to work, line up diagonally to the line of force and will only be involved minimally.

3. “When choosing a dumbbell for your heavy sets, make sure it’s one that will force you to strain.” I had a good laugh at this sentence. This exercise is not at all healthy for the back as it forces the lumbar spine to move in lateral flexion with an external load, something that can cause serious spinal injury at worst, undue wear and tear on your lumbar spine at best. This is right at the top of my list of exercises NOT to do yet I see it being performed all the time, even recommended by Personal Trainers to their clients.

Want to do a similar move that works on proper posture and spinal stability? Get in the starting position for this exercise, good tall posture with shoulders back and down and a dumbbell in one hand. Then simply stand there, or walk around your workout space, maintaining solid posture against the resistance that the dumbbell is providing. You will feel it on the side of your spine, opposite to the dumbbell. Switch sides and repeat.

Want to ACTUALLY work your obliques? Do a movement that gets your trunk rotating and moving resistance through the same line of pull as your obliques. My personal favourite is the Lumberjack with a high cable or band. Grab onto the single cable/band handle with both hands and hold it out in front of you with shoulders down and back and elbows locked in slight flexion. With your upper body locked in position, move the cable handle from shoulder height down to hip height all the while rotating through the trunk and keeping your arms and shoulders strong and stable. Make sure to do the same number of reps on both sides.

Fitness magazines may provide some great inspiration and ideas for keeping your workouts fresh but please think critically about the advice that they are giving and be sure to check in with a professional if you aren’t sure about anything workout related that you read or hear from the vast pool of information out there.

Take care and train hard,


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