There are so many fitness myths out there and I feel a need to set the record straight. After my hairdresser asked me what the best way to lose a quick 10 pounds was and then proceeded to tell me, with wide-eyes yearning for encouragement, that she’s drinking a gallon of water a day, I was pushed over the edge.
Now, mind you, I’m no doctor (luckily for you as they usually don’t know much about healthy people) nor do I have a master’s degree in nutrition or exercise science but what I do have is experience. In fact, I have almost 20 years of experience at this point and, most all of the following has come from hard earned lessons in my successes and failures over the years.
Let’s learn together, shall we?
Fitness Myth #1: Calorie Burn
The cardio machine is lying to you. I know you want to believe that your 20-minute walk on the treadmill burned 1,000 calories but we both know that is not true. Cardio machines are usually pre-programmed with the height and weight of the “average” male, meaning somewhere around 5′ 10″ and 180 pounds, so unless you fit those parameters you are SOL.
The only way to get a semi-accurate calorie burn rate is to enter your own height and weight from the start of your workout.
Fitness Myth #2: Spot Training
There is no one exercise or diet that will rid you of the flaps under your arms or the pouch in your stomach. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and also should not be giving fitness advice. You need to train your entire body to get overall results. No matter how many “crunches” you do, those alone will not achieve a flat stomach. And sometimes only the recommendation of a great plastic surgeon will give you the results you are looking for. Anyone who has ever had a giant baby (or twins) can attest to this.
The very best thing you can do to tighten and tame areas that need it, is an overall strength and cardio program coupled with a healthy diet. The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” is 100 percent accurate.
Fitness Myth #3: Working Out Longer Is Better
For who? No one. Not even marathoners want to prolong workouts, believe me. The best way to torch the most calories and reap the biggest benefits is by doing shorter, more intense workouts (like intervals) and by following the FITT formula.
FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. Chose one and mix it up to keep your body guessing. Doing the same workouts over and over do nothing but create muscle memory. You need to keep your very smart body evolving and adapting to different stresses, which is the best way to see results. So, the next time you head to the gym or out for a run think about how you can change one of those factors and go from there.
The best part? If you truly up your intensity or frequency, you can cut your sweat time in half while getting better results. This is especially true for newbies!
Fitness Myth #4: Lifting Heavy Weights Makes You Bulky
For those of you who still think this is true, ask a body builder how long it takes to gain muscle mass. Ok, Google it. It not only takes months of following a rigorous training regimen but also a very strict and insane diet. I’m pretty sure that if you strength train twice per week using heavy weights, you will not bulk up. In fact I’m 100 percent sure.
What you will get it a stronger, leaner, healthier body that is less injury prone. If you run, it’s one of the best things you can do for speed and prolong your running life.
There are thousands of great strength training workouts for every type of fitness program, goal or body. Pick one and then pick up those heavy weights and go for it!
Fitness Myth #5: It’s Easy for You
In this case “you” is anyone you think running, training or racing is easy for. There have been countless times when some good intentioned person has said to me “Oh it’s a just 5K? That’s easy for you!” Wrong. It’s a lung searing 19-21 minute hell fest, but thanks for making me feel as if it should be easy.
No matter who you are or what you train for, it’s all hard. Period. “Hard” is relative yes, and some of us enjoy pain more then others, but I have yet to find someone training for a goal to remark how “easy” it is.
“If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” – Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own
[Tweet “Working out longer is better and other #fitness myths debunked! #train4life”]
I’ll be doing another post on nutritional myths so let me know what you would like to read about!
What can you add to the list?
Let me know if you disagree…I love a challenge!
I think what is so amazing to me is how these havent changed in years!
And given all the fantastic trainers out there sharing GOOD information–I really cannot figure out why.
Although with the calorie count one I think it’s like santa :0)
we just wannnnna believe 🙂
Agreed!! I think the more time you spend around like-minded, fitness professionals who take this knowledge for granted, the more you forget that so many people still believe this nonsense. Thank you Carla!
I fully agree with Carla – these facts aren’t from any ground breaking new study. It’s the tried and true way! I want to claw people’s eyes out when they ask what machine can I do to get rid of my belly. Oh only if it was that simple!
It never ceases to amaze me how little people still know about being fit and healthy. It makes me feel badly and that they will never achieve success with the mindset or misconceptions they have!! And yes, they want it to be SIMPLE which I think leads to #5 and “oh that’s easy for you” syndrome.
Ughhhh yes. What a great article!!! So many peeps workout for 3 hours and think they have done something amazing!! I completely agree with the muscle memory that’s why I’ve been taking new classes every week!!
Right? I SO wish I could take new classes each week. If I lived in NYC I would be homeless in three months after having spent all our money on new classes!! 🙂
Yes to the cardio machines. So many people believe these things are accurate and a 1 mile walk is burning 10000 calories.
I always find it interesting that people consider training for shorter distances, easier. Normally they are much more difficult because it’s all that pain bottled into a shorter distance. At least in my opinion. HA.
YES to the shorter distances!! I loathe 5Ks since they are pure torture (and an all out sprint!) for three miles. I much prefer gutting it out over 13.1 for some reason?? And, as you always say, I end up riding the pain train in the last mile of the 5K. Always!
So a gallon of water per day will make you lose a quick 10 pounds or no? Please discuss.
I think some of these are kind of half true and/or relative, and that is why they are perpetuated. For example, while racing a 5k is never easy if you are really racing hard, your “hard” effort will change. A 10 minute mile might feel impossible when you start running and then easy after you’ve been running for awhile. While lifting weights won’t actually make you look like a body builder, it can, if you do it right, give you more muscle tone than some women are looking for. So I do kind of see where people get some of that stuff from. My answer when people don’t believe me on some of these is to say “Try it for yourself and see!” It won’t take you long before you figure out none of these myths are true. Great post!
OMG I so LOLed at that first sentence. You are hilarious. And yes, of course that is a great way to loose weight – add gallons of water to your body.
And YES, great points and most likely why people believe this stuff. I always had to explain to clients the difference between a training run and racing. Big. Huge. As you know…
“Running is bad for your joints”…. why does every non-runner feel the need to tell a runner that??? Running is better for my health than say cocaine so I’m taking my chances.
I actually think that one is going away. I used to hear it a lot more but I DO hear it as an excuse like “Oh I can’t run because I have bad knees.” Hmmmm, is that why or do you have bad knees because they are carrying around too much weight?
I do enjoy your reference to cocaine though so thank you for that 🙂
Yes to all of this! There are so many misconceptions floating around- it drives me crazy too. Great post, Allie!
I can only imagine what you hear from clients!! Maybe we should team up for the nutrition post??
Thank you for addressing these myths and setting the records straight. However, I have developed a stronger jaw bone by chewing on endless donuts. That’s spot training, baby.
Absolutely! Keep up the good work girl!!
Other things that make me want to slap people:
– A pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat.
– Use of the word “toned” because 9 times out of 10, you have no idea what you actually mean.
– Detox/Juicing paired with the excitement of losing that fast 5-10lbs
– My trainer (with zero legitimate nutritional education) put me on a 1200 calorie diet.
1200 calories? A DAY? That is insane. I’m also not a fan of detoxing or juicing or anything else that isn’t sustainable over a lifetime. If you’re doing it for a purpose for 30 days or something, that’s different, but if it’s all centered around weight loss, you’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Great points my friend!!
Don’t even get me started on the things I see trainers doing with people at the gym… gah…. the slaps I wanna hand out some days. 😉
OMG that could be another post!!! I always just have to walk away. Close my eyes and walk away.
Oh man, so many misconceptions out there! I can’t wait to see what you debunk on the nutritional front!
Right? I think there’s SO much more when it comes to food. It’s become overly complicated…as you well know!
#TRUTH. Preach it girl! Tweeting this bad boy out to the masses 🙂
You are so awesome! MANY THANKS!!!! xo
Yes! This is hilarious and yet too true because people actually believe these. The misconception that truly irritates me is that some people still actually believe that women should stick to shorter distances. At my tiny college in Indiana, the male XC runners would cover 12-14 miles for their weekend long run…and the women would run 8-10.
What??? I seriously cannot believe that! These are supposed to be professional, educated coaches?? Wow. Just wow.
So aptly and bluntly put! I love it:) For quality of life, 20 years of training experience trumps 8 years of medical school anytime.
The Glasbergen comic is a riot and soooo appropriate! The private trainer+megaphone is why I despise the label anymore and relate more to ‘Coach’.
I never heard of FITT, shows how far I am behind the times! Last I heard, the acronym HIIT was the catch all answer to everything fitness when I was a private trainer (UHG!) at a gym in the SF bay area in 2005-09.
I like the FITT concept much better, sounds much more like the 3 pillars of fitness I learned about in 1981 in Physiology of Exercise/Human performance classes at University: 1) Frequency 2) Intensity 3) Duration.
Funny how the truth is always the truth, it’s just that marketers creatively repackage it to confuse the masses and unscrupulously line their pockets.
Yes, just ask Tina Muir if Her training is easy for her!
Yes, please, nutritional myths!
PS. I love reading all the comments, they are almost as entertaining as your posts: but today, Yum Yucky’s jawbone and doughnuts is spot on- Hilarious! I’m going to steal that line!
Calorie burn and heavy weights are the two myths I love to hate! I get so annoyed with the calorie burn issue. I do like how you can program your watch with your weight so it is a little bit more accurate but on the overall, I think it is pretty difficult to gauge exactly. But at the end of the day,I like to know my calorie burn more to gauge the intensity of my workouts since I don’t count calories anyway.
I literally have stopped supporting anything Tracy Anderson says or does because she proffered the myth that heavy weights lead to bulk and thousands of women listened. I honestly think my arms look the best after doing BodyPump consistently!
Is that where all that nonsense came from?? And yes, I agree about having the calorie burn on your watch. At least it’s more accurate with your height and weight programmed in!!
Yes, yes and yes. I just had this convo with my personal trainer yesterday. I see him 2x a week and lift heavy. Very heavy. I can assure everyone my 4’11” frame doesnt remotely resemble that of a body builder and my knees certainly don’t hurt when I run. Lol. Great post!!
Sounds like you have a great trainer! And I cannot believe your knees don’t bother you with all that running 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting Mar! Keep up the good work!!
Haha! When people make that comment about weights bulking you up, I ask them if they’ve seen me? My coach makes me lift all the weight–last week I was deadlifting 135#. No bulk on this skinny ass…pretty funny, the things people think.
Next time someone says that to be I’m going to open your Instagram account and have them look though some of your lifting pics!! Great idea Wendy 🙂 Keep showing those weights who is boss!
You mean I didn’t really burn 800 calories on the elliptical?!?! <– haha I can barely get my HR to 120 on that thing. I burn like 200 calories in an hour but it like to multiply that by several factors. Ugh.
And heavy weights for the win! To lean out the most for me it means heavy weights. It still amazes me the myths that people believe. Also that spin/cycling will give you bulky legs. Sigh.
Ah yes! The spin = bulky legs is a great one 🙂 Keep burning it up on the elliptical Gianna!! HAHAHA
I have said a few times that I need to lose a few pound after I finish marathon training because I ALWAYS gain weight with marathon training. The response I always get…..I’m sure it’s all muscle that you gained….bahahahaha….not so much…If only I gained leg muscles from running.
That is a great one because it’s NOT a myth but is actually true…and sadly, it’s not muscle, as you already know!! I have read some great articles on why that happens. Just another reason to not run marathons, right? LOL! 🙂
I am feeling very inspired by you! I remembered this sentence on a 5K this past Sunday :
“It’s a lung searing 19-21 minute hell fest, but thanks for making me feel as if it should be easy.”
And I pushed myself hard, and made my fastest mile to date… that is only 7:25, but that is fast for me! Thanks! No 5K PR, which still doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s what I get for running a race without chipped timing.
Thanks also for clearing out some myths…. everybody wants a magic pill, shake, or belt to fix all the issues overnight. More education on the topic of fitness is always needed!
This reminds me of a conversation I had with my brother a few years back, before I started running. I asked him how to lose belly fat, something I struggled after giving birth. He said “Run 7 miles 5 times a week” and I said to him “I don’t have time for that”, and his reply was “Then you don’t want to get rid of belly fat!”.
LOL – so glad you remembered that in your 5K…I think?
And 7:25 is FAST! Good for you. PRs are not the important thing, it’s that you pushed HARD when you didn’t want to. Nice job!!
I have to say, although your brother (and all men) have no clue when it comes to having babies, he is right on with his advice. The truth hurts 🙂
Ah! Sorry! I didn’t clarify! My fiancé (who helps me train for races) tells me all the time to push myself, and I try to “Push myself”, but somehow the idea didn’t click in my mind until I read your sentence on having a 5K be a “lung searing hell fest” This told me that pushing myself made to leave my comfort zone and that it should not be easy, but enjoyably painful…”push yourself” just sounded like a cliché to my brain.
I’m AM truly glad that helped you. Often it’s hard to gauge how much we have left to give in a race and, like you pointed out, mantras can sometimes be meaningless. Leaving the comfort zone is scary but, now that you have done it, you’re more likely to do it again.