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Common Fitness Myths

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Fake news may be making current headlines, but fitness myths have been around forever. Let’s take a moment to dispel some of the more common exercise myths, shall we?

Your best friend swears by StrongLifts, your coworker does CrossFit, and your neighbor says Pilates changed her life. Diet fads come and go, with so-called experts giving conflicting advice on what you should eat. What to do?

Well…what works for me may not necessarily work for you, but regardless of your choice of exercise and diet these ten fitness myths just need to die.

Ten Myths That Need To Die

1 “Sit-ups will give you six-pack abs”

Sorry, but no. In reality all you are doing is toning the muscle below the layer of fat.

To remove the fat you have to burn more calories than you consume, through reducing food intake or increasing exercise.

I’m very fond of kettlebells and barbell training, but anything that gets you sweating is good.

2 “Carbohydrates make you fat”

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap from some of the more recent trends in dieting.

What is important to remember is that carbs are the most important source for our energy supply. If we want to exercise at high levels we need make sure the body has adequate fuel.

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. The majority of them should come from whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

3 “Low intensity cardio is best for burning fat”

It is true your body is using fat as its primary fuel source when it is at rest and working at lower intensities. The important point to remember about fat loss is the number of calories burned vs. calories consumed.

Higher intensity training burns more calories which in the end results in a greater reduction in body fat.

4  “No pain, no gain”

Many people believe that a workout is only effective if it is painful. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s true that intense exercise can lead to mild pain or discomfort, but this should not be confused with actual pain that comes from injury or from doing an exercise incorrectly.

If you are feeling intense pain during a workout, stop immediately and maybe think about seeing a doctor!

5 “Weight training will make a woman bulky”

I hear this a lot and it’s simply not true. Lifting weights will not create bulk on women, mainly because they don’t have enough of the male hormone testosterone to stimulate large amounts of muscle growth.

For the vast majority of women, lifting weights will lead to more defined muscle tone, firming up the arms, legs, and butt, which happen to be the areas that most women want to improve anyway.

6 “Running is the best exercise”

Running is great and is probably the most accessible form of exercise for many people, but that doesn’t make it the best exercise.

Simply put, the best exercise is the one you will do on a regular basis that will help you accomplish your fitness goals.

7  “I don’t have time to exercise”

Exercising as little as 10 minutes a day has shown to improve health risk factors. If you don’t have 30-40 minutes to spare a day you can do 10 minute increments throughout the day.

Only have 20 minutes to devote to exercise? Up the intensity of the workout with a weight vest and get the same results as working out for 40 minutes.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in the furthest parking spot instead of the closest. Walk to the store instead of driving. Keep a kettlebell under your desk and do 20-30 swings every hour throughout the day.

8 “I can eat/drink whatever I want because I exercise”

Oh, if only this were true! You still have to remember the calorie in vs. calorie out principle. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

An average workout for an hour for most people only burns around two hundred to three hundred calories, which is about what you’d consume by eating one bagel (without cream cheese!) or drinking one craft beer.

9 “Always stretch before exercise”

Stretching is great, but stretching cold muscles is one of the worst things you can do since it could weaken the muscles by up to 30%. It’s much better to do some light exercises first to get your body temperature up, then stretch if you still feel you need it.

I rarely stretch before I exercise, I prefer doing Foundation Training work followed by kettlebell swings instead. It may not sound like much, but this small bit of effort works amazingly well to get my body warm and ready for intense exercise.

10 “Fat can be turned into muscle”

Fat and muscle are two totally separate types of tissue, and they aren’t interchangeable. It is not physically possible for one to turn into the other.

However it may seem possible if you control your eating and get regular exercise. As the body fat starts to fade away more muscle becomes visible, giving the appearance of your fat turning to muscle.


Hopefully this article will help dispel some of the #fakenews around fitness.

Can you think of any other fitness or exercise myths you’ve heard? Sound off in the comments below!

About the Author Mario

I'm a software product manager with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile, and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable options for home fitness. If you'd like to build your own home gym, start here.