The Worst Fitness Myths
What are your fitness goals? Are you aiming to lose weight, get washboard abs, acquire a well-toned, swimsuit-ready body? If your goal is to get fit and look great, then you probably did some research and googled, “How to achieve <insert fitness goal here>”. The hype over fitness is spreading like wildfire across the internet and with it comes tons of new tips, hacks, and instructions to help you achieve your fitness goals. That also means, though, that a lot of misleading fitness myths are being passed around, too.
Not all the information posted on the internet is true. Since you’re dealing with your body (and you only get one, so you have to take good care of it!), you must verify the information you’ve found before applying it. Here’s our list of the worst fitness myths you’ve got to stop believing right now.
1. Spot Training Will Help You Burn Fat in One Area
Spot training, or spot reduction, operates on the idea that if you want to lose fat on one part of your body, then you can simply focus on that part. For instance, if you want to lose belly fat, all you have to do is perform a ton of crunches every day to help you get rid of that unwanted fat. If only it was that easy!
This is one of those fitness myths that infomercials want you to believe. Fat makes up a layer between your muscles and your skin. Your body burns fat when you work out — this is true — however, your muscles do not directly burn the fat surrounding the body part that you’re working on (1). Spot training just doesn’t work.
2. Cardio is the Way to Stay Lean
Does cardio make you dread going to the gym? If you hate cardio (like a number of other people), then this is probably one of the fitness myths you’re happy to hear. Although cardio offers benefits — like improving heart health — it isn’t a requirement for weight loss. In fact, it could backfire. Studies show cardio alone is not an effective way to lose weight (2).
The most efficient way to burn calories is to build muscle through strength training. If you have more muscle mass, you can burn more calories. Strength training also helps increase your metabolism, which means you burn more calories at rest (3).
3. You Can Out-Exercise a Bad Diet
This is certainly one of the worst fitness myths circulating around the internet. Eating junk food every day and compensating by spending hours exercising does not work. Healthy nutrition is crucial! If you want to achieve that rockin’ bod, then hard work (note: intense exercise) is required.
You will not have the endurance to finish that tough workout routine if your body’s not fueled right.
4. You Should Exercise as Much as Possible
Although battling the sedentary lifestyle through regular exercise is good, too much exercise is not. In fact, overtraining can hinder your progress and cause an increased resting heart rate, decreased appetite, poor mood, poor sleep quality, and increased stress levels.
Your body needs time for rest and recovery. When you work out, your body breaks down tissues. These tissues need to heal to build muscle. To exercise continuously without giving your body sufficient time to rest is counterproductive.
5. You Need Electrolytes Post-Workout
Commercials are designed to tempt people to buy or consume things they sometimes don’t really need — this is the case with sports drinks. Commercials argue you need to drink that colorful and refreshing-looking beverage to rehydrate and replenish your electrolytes after your exercise.
Although this is true for grueling workouts that last for more than an hour or during intense sports matches, most of the time, all you need is plain water. Sports drinks contain extra sugar that could prevent you from staying lean.
6. Eating Carbs Make You Fat
This is another one of those fitness myths that just won't die. Not all carbs are created equal — there are good kinds and not-so-good kinds. Healthier carbs are those from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other natural sources.
Processed carbs are the ones you want to minimize — those attractively packaged boxes you can find in the supermarket aisles.
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy. You need them for working out. It’s not carbs that make you gain fat. It’s overeating and consuming the wrong kinds of carbs.
7. Morning is the Best Time to Work Out
If the reason you’re not working out is that you find it difficult to wake up early in the morning to get your sweat sesh in, this is for you.
There's this misconception that working out in the morning puts you at a significant advantage because your body will then burn more calories throughout the rest of the day.
The truth is this: the best time to work out is the time that’s best for you. Seriously. What matters is consistency. Stick with something you can maintain. It’s a smart idea to choose the time of the day when you’re most likely to exercise. Some people like mornings since it gets exercise out of the way and they can concentrate on other things for the rest of the day. Others train during the evening right after work.
It depends on your preference. If you're exercising consistently, you will enjoy the benefits.
8. The More You Sweat, the More Calories You Burn
Don’t be jealous if you notice your friend sweating a lot more than you do when you’re performing the same workout routine at the gym. Sweating is not an indicator of the calories you’ve burned during the workout.
Plain and simple, sweating is your body’s natural cooling process. Its purpose is to regulate the body’s temperature. Yes, it’s true that sweating enables you to lose weight during the exercise, but that’s weight from water and electrolytes. This is the reason why you need to rehydrate right after you work out.
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Always verify the facts first before you follow a trend. These fitness myths, for instance, when done consistently and for a long period of time, can prevent you from achieving your fitness goals and obtaining the body you want. Be fit and stay healthy by practicing the right habits.
Which of these fitness myths surprised you the most?
- “Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program”, Kostek, MA., et al., 2007.
- “Isolated aerobic exercise and weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”, Thorogood A., et al., 2011.
- “Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50- to 65-yr-old men”, Pratley R., et al., 1994.