Top 10 Most Common Fitness Myths

The fitness industry is growing at an exponential rate, year in and year out. On the one hand, it is definitely a good thing, as more and more people have started realizing the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. On the other, though, the increasing amount of fitness-focused businesses and self-proclaimed “fitness experts” is inextricably tied to a rise in the number of fitness myths and hoaxes people can easily fall prey to, especially if they are just starting out on their journey towards self-improvement.

Finding accurate and trustworthy information online is not the easiest of tasks, especially when it comes to subjects such as weight loss and fitness. This is why we’ve decided to pull together ten of the most commonly repeated fitness myths that circulate the web today. Some of them are relatively innocent, whereas others could seriously set you back or even damage your health.

Running Outside vs. On a Treadmill

It is unclear when exactly this common misconception originated, but it has certainly been of great benefit to treadmill manufacturers and gyms all around the world. Many people believe that running on a treadmill will have the same effect on their bodies as having a run outdoors. Granted, you’ll be able to burn fat on a treadmill, and it is still a viable form of exercise, but it cannot be considered an equal replacement for an outdoor run.

When running outside, you are pushing against the wind and traversing across uneven terrains. These two external factors alone increase the intensity of your exercise and get your body to use more energy. This is why you feel much more tired after a 10-mile run outside than after breaking the same distance on a treadmill. It is estimated that you burn 10% more calories on an outdoor run compared to a treadmill jog over the same distance.

Working Out Every Day is Bad For You

Like most misconceptions, this fitness myth also has some truth to it. Hard workouts on a daily basis can lead to over-exhaustion and extreme soreness of some of your muscle groups. However, this does not justify saying that working out every single day is not good for your health or that it can even be detrimental to your well-being.

This myth has originated with people who have been over-exerting certain body parts without switching up their routine enough. High-intensity exercises focused on a single muscle group, repeated every day, can indeed damage these muscle groups because you don’t allow them to recover properly. Daily workouts are not the problem here, but rather the poor planning of each individual workout.

If you want to avoid damaging your muscle tissue and still keep working out every day of the week, make sure to plan your workouts accordingly. Focus solely on cardiovascular exercise on day 1, and dedicate day 2 to strengthening a particular muscle group. The next day, you should target another unrelated group of muscles and get back to cardio training on day 4, and so on.

No Pain, No Gain

“No pain, no gain” is probably the most popular fitness mantra, instantly recognizable by gym goers all around the world, even those who don’t speak English! It refers to pushing yourself to the very limit of your body’s ability, forcing yourself to work through the pain in order to achieve maximum workout effectiveness. Some of its biggest advocates even go as far as claiming that if your muscles do not hurt after exercising, then the entire session was worthless.

While it can certainly push you to give it your all at the gym, this mindset can prove to be dangerous in the long term. Soreness or pain can be a sign of torn muscle tissue — if you push through that pain for prolonged periods, you may end up requiring medical attention. Instead of seeing increased gains, you’ll only get your ultimate goal pushed further into the future.

Working Out On an Empty Stomach

There are plenty of justifications for this one. Some people say you shouldn’t exercise before breakfast because you won’t have enough energy to get the most out of your routine, whereas others claim that it is an unhealthy practice that can negatively affect your body or even heart health.

Thankfully, none of these claims are founded in science. Whether or not you should work out on an empty stomach is dependent on your body’s capacity for physical activity before eating the first meal of the day. If you feel like working out before breakfast is not a problem for you, then there is no scientific reason to prevent you from doing so. Moreover, according to some studies, empty stomach exercises in the morning can burn 20% more body fat than the same exercises performed after having your first meal of the day.

Running is Better Than Walking

Saying that walking is as effective of an exercise as running may seem a bit counterintuitive at first glance. After all, running is much more intensive and gets you to work up a sweat much quicker than walking. However, once you start breaking down the two, you’ll notice that they share a lot more similarities than you might think.

As it turns out, walking targets the same muscle groups as walking, and it burns about the same amount of calories overall. The catch lies in the distance: in order to burn an equal amount of fat with a walk, it would have to be 2x longer than a run that targets the same energy burn.

Longer Workouts Are Always Better

Many people who are only just beginning to get into exercising regularly fall into the trap of thinking that they have to prolong their workouts at all costs in order for them to be effective and meaningful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, longer exercise sessions do burn more calories, but if you’re strapped for time or lack the stamina required to withstand a lengthy workout, there’s nothing stopping you from breaking it up a little.

Shorter but more intense sessions will do the trick just as well. On top of that, you can get your gym time to fit your schedule better by planning two sessions per day and targeting different muscle groups and goals for each one of them. Exercising yourself to the point of maximum exhaustion too frequently can lead to injuries and sore muscles, which will prevent you from achieving consistency, which is key to getting into shape.

“I Can Eat Whatever I Want, As Long As I Exercise”

Propagated by fast food companies ever since the establishment of a link between poor dietary habits and worse physical performance, this is one of the worst fitness myths a person can fall for if they are truly trying to get back in shape.

Exercising is a great way of building muscle and getting slimmer, but the truth is that it only burns a tiny fraction of the calories that we consume during the day. Your gym efforts should always go hand-in-hand with a healthy diet rich in protein and fiber if you want to improve your stamina and look better. Otherwise, you’ll just continue to render your workouts useless, one burger at a time.

Pre-Workout Stretching

For most of us, stretching before exercising was instilled into our workout routines as early as elementary school, with P.E. teachers emphasizing the importance of a good stretch to get your muscles “ready” for increased activity. Unfortunately, the importance of stretching before working out has been greatly exaggerated to the detriment of many gymgoers around the world.

Don’t get us wrong — stretching is still incredibly important, but most of the stretches you do should be reserved for the end of your session. This is because most static stretches (such as reaching down to reach your toes) tend to overextend your muscles before they’ve had the chance to warm up properly, which can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your workout and even lead to injury. Instead, you should focus on getting 5-15 minutes of cardio exercise in before you begin your routine, and supplement it with some light, dynamic stretches, which will help your muscles maintain the right range of motion.

Detoxing and Shady Juice Cleanses

Dozens of millions of people want to be in shape and lead a healthy lifestyle. This means that there is a lot of money to be made in the fitness industry. This is why so many snake oil salesmen have wiggled their way into gyms and sports centers all over the world, getting the staff to promote their products to an unwitting population of fitness enthusiasts.

Detox processes based on removing solid foods and consuming only juices, i.e. juice cleanses, have been proven to be harmful to your body and actually slow down your metabolism. This means that instead of catching up with your weight loss targets, your body will hold onto fat for much longer. As a result, you’ll have to put in more work in order to achieve the same intended effects.

Sweating a Lot Means That You’re Out of Shape

The image of an out-of-shape person drowning in sweat after climbing a flight of stairs or simply walking to a grocery store has permeated pop culture to such an extent that we’ve started to believe excessive sweating is a dead giveaway of poor physical condition.

As a matter of fact, the exact opposite is true. The fitter you get, the sooner your body will start to produce sweat, as a sign of your increased ability to cool down during periods of intensive exercise. According to scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, Illinois, each workout turns you into a more “efficient sweating machine.”

The Bottom Line

So there you have it: ten of the most common fitness myths that get spread around on social media and in gyms all around the world. There is no shame in having fallen for some of them in the past. After all, some of these misconceptions have been with us ever since our very first physical education classes!

Don’t beat yourself up too much if you’ve been warming up the wrong way for years or made poor dietary choices based on inaccurate information. The most important thing you should take away from this article is understanding why these myths do not reflect reality well and make the right changes. Your body will thank you!

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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