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Fitness Myths That Are Complete Lies

Myth #1: Cardiovascular exercise is the most effective way to lose weight.

  • Cardiovascular exercise is vital to strengthening your heart muscle and improving cardiac efficiency, but typically burns minimal calories. A general estimate for calories burned in a one-mile walk or run is approximately 100-120 calories. Cardiovascular exercise is like day trading for quick profits (burning calories), whereas lifting weights is an investment for long-term passive income (increased metabolically active tissue). It is much easier to eat 500 calories than burn them walking or running. An effective weight loss program is based upon the combination of a high protein diet, strength training, and a slight caloric deficit. Cardiovascular exercise is primarily incorporated as a complement to the program for heart health benefits.

  • Note: Exercise prescriptions that separate weight training from cardiovascular training are more time consuming and less efficient. The best way to make progress in your weight loss or fitness program is to incorporate moderate-high intensity training that includes weights and cardiovascular exercise combined in a constantly varied design.

Myth #2: It is possible to spot-reduce adipose tissue (fat).

  • Area-specific exercises can help to “tone” muscles in an area that was previously sedentary or inhibited, but will not target fat loss in that region. It is crucially important wellness prescriptions are focused on reducing the intra abdominal fat – visceral body fat wrapped around the vital organs, which continues to be the primary driver for metabolic disease. Sit-ups or crunches are not the best way to get a flat stomach, as you cannot crunch yourself to a six-pack. A flat stomach is the result of a low body fat percentage. Exercise tones what the kitchen creates. A strength training program should be specific and individualized, including exercises to strengthen core muscles, but fat is lost in areas at different rates. Discipline, consistency, and perseverance will take you places motivation never could – do not get frustrated along the way.

  • Note: It is a very common misconception that just because someone is thin that they are healthy or fit. Being thin does not mean someone is healthy, just the same that being overweight means someone is unhealthy, it just means you do not have a lot of excess body fat. In fact, someone having a little extra body fat but actively participating in moderate exercise, resistance training, and consuming nutritional foods will likely have superior blood panels, bone health, mental health, and general wellness.

Myth #3: Carbohydrates are making you fat.

  • Excess calories are making you gain weight. Carbohydrates are not the enemy, but excess carbohydrate intake could be fueling your insulin resistance. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy, and your blood carries this energy to every cell in your body. If you do not consume glucose in your diet, through various metabolic pathways, your body will break down fatty acids (beta oxidation) and non-carbohydrate carbon substances (gluconeogenesis) to form the necessary 6-carbon sugar (glucose). Glucose is the primary source of energy for our brain and nervous system. Our brain accounts for ~2% of our body weight, but consumes ~20% of our glucose-derived energy. Vegetables, fruit, and even honey have their role in our diets, as they are incredible sources of short-term energy and various vitamins and minerals.

Myth #4: You cannot gain muscle after the age of 50.

  • Due to a decrease in the production of various hormones, it may be more challenging to add a substantial amount of muscle the older you are, but anyone can build muscle with a consistent resistance training program and high protein diet. Male or female, 8 or 80, we all need strength training in our lives for injury and disease prevention, as well as enhanced metabolic and mental health.

  • Note: Lifting weights will tone and shape your body – it will NOT make a woman “bulky.” Women have low levels of testosterone, thus their muscles do not naturally hypertrophy (increase in size). Lifting weights can prevent loss of muscle mass, help build bone density, and increase the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. Maintaining a healthy weight will help you fight off chronic injuries and diseases, such as lower back pain and cancer.

Myth #5: Sweat is a good indicator of a great workout.

  • The amount of sweat during and after a workout does not equate to calories burned, it is simply a bodily mechanism to help regulate temperature. If you spend any time in a sauna sweating, the mass you are losing is water weight, not fat.

  • Note: Excessive exercise will never compensate for a poor diet. Diet and nutrition play a much larger role than exercise when it pertains to weight management and disease prevention. In fact, many foods can actually help protect you against certain cancers – after all, food is medicine! Consequently, do not treat exercise as a justification to consume unhealthy foods.

Myth #6: Eggs and red meat are bad for you.

  • Both are nutrient rich and provide excellent quality protein. They are high in vitamins D, B2, A, E, B5, B12, folate, selenium, iron, and phosphorus. They provide all 9 essential amino acids to support muscle growth, recovery, and maintenance. They increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, which is why they have been found to have little or no effect on heart disease risk. The nutrient density is unmatched, and they should be a staple in your diet.

Myth #7: The time of day in which you eat affects weight loss.

  • How many calories is what really matters, the time you eat them is less important. Whether you are eating the large majority of your calories at 7am, 1pm, or 5pm, if you consume more than required to sustain your body, you will not lose weight. You can benefit from giving your digestive tract a break, but do not expect to fix your weight or health if the quality of food inputs do not change.

  • Note: Eating before bed does not make you gain weight. Having a caloric surplus makes you gain weight. The time of day in which you eat your calories does not matter. However, late-night eating can often put you over your daily limit (total daily energy expenditure), disrupt your sleep, and cause digestive discomfort throughout the night.

Myth #8: You cannot lose weight because you have a slow metabolism.

  • This is often an excuse for poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle – it is negative self talk that frankly is not helping you. If you were to drop the excuses, and change your actions, your metabolism will follow. If you were to fundamentally change how you fuel your body and challenge your body physically, your body will respond – your body is resilient, but only if you choose to be. No one is coming to save you. Your health is 100% your responsibility.

  • Note: Being overweight or obese increases your risks for colon, kidney, endometrial, gallbladder, esophageal, and breast cancer. Most people know they need to exercise and eat right, however they lack consistent implementation.

Myth #9: Static stretching before an exercise routine is a good way to warm up.

  • Static stretching of connective tissue before increasing blood flow and temperature to a particular region can increase the risk of an injury. Alternatively, a specific dynamic warmup is a superior method to increase blood flow and warm up your working muscles before adding resistance. Jumping rope, controlled bodyweight walking lunges, or even a lightweight set prior to the prescribed weight serves as a great warmup. It is more effective to stretch after exercise, when your muscles and joints are warm, to maintain a healthy range of motion.

  • Note: A dynamic warmup should NOT consist of any ballistic movements like “bouncing,” as the velocity and acceleration rates equate to higher rates of force development for “cold” muscles. This can increase the incidence of injury.

Myth #10: Eating more often will boost your metabolism.

  • Whether you eat two meals a day or six, your body’s overall cellular respiration and metabolism will not be affected. Studies have shown that eating more often leads to more snacking, more calories, and an increase in the number of blood sugar spikes. The key should be to maintain a stable blood sugar and avoid excessive or consistent periods of hyperglycemia. With persistent unstable blood glucose levels, cells develop a resistance to insulin, which often leads to complications such as diabetes.

  • Note: Above all, metabolic health is key to promoting lifelong disease prevention. Restoring a healthy balance is key for limiting risk factors and putting you at the controls of your personal wellness.

Myth #11: If you are not sore, you did not work hard enough.

  • Soreness indicates your muscles were exposed to a new stimulus, it does not provide a measure of your overall effort in each exercise bout. The soreness you feel, typically 24-48 hours after a new exercise session, is caused by microtrauma to connective tissue – delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). After just a few weeks of the same exercise prescription, you will feel less and less soreness with each respective training program. Consequently, it is important to have a safe, progressive training program to continue building strength and stronger neurophysiological connections.

  • Note: It was once thought, and even still repeated today, that muscle soreness was somehow attributed to a buildup in “lactic acid”. Lactate (“lactic acid”) is a by-product produced during anaerobic cellular respiration and exercise. Excess accumulation of lactate contributes to a temporary burning sensation as the blood pH becomes more acidic. When molecular oxygen becomes sufficient, lactate is converted into a source of energy through the process known as the Cori Cycle. With an active recovery exercise, lactate clearance will typically occur within 6-10 seconds.

Myth #12: You must be in the gym for hours daily to get fit.

  • More is not always better. With each exercise session, you are challenging various body systems to elicit physiological changes, thus proper rest and recovery is just as important. If you stress your system with moderate/high intensity training for one hour a day, it is important to refuel, rehydrate, and recover the other 23 hours of the day. It is important to eat well, prioritize sleep, and build active recovery days into your wellness program. Your strongest muscle and worst enemy is your mind – train it well.

  • Note: The time of day in which you exercise does not matter. Forcing yourself into an unsustainable workout time is not a long-term viability. Exercise should be built into your daily routine so it can become a lifestyle you enjoy. A change in your perspective may be all that you need – you do not “have to” exercise today, you “get to” exercise today. You are always one decision away from a totally different life.

Myth #13: Muscle turns to fat if you stop working out.

  • It is physiologically impossible for muscle to turn to fat. Without exposure to moderate/high-intensity resistance training programs, muscle tissue will atrophy (decrease in size). However, an increase in adipose tissue (fat) is caused exclusively by a daily caloric surplus. It is imperative to continue a quality strength training program late in life to maintain muscle and bone health, mental and emotional health, and prevent chronic disease and musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Note: “X” diet is the best way to burn fat and lose weight. There is only one reason any fad diet will help you lose weight – it creates a caloric deficit. A balanced “diet” with healthy food choices and quality ingredients is a more sustainable alternative to any fad diet.

Myth #14: Sports drinks are a good way to fuel your workouts.

  • Most sports drinks are filled with hidden sugar and calories. Although the excess sugar throughout the system is easy energy and your body will choose to burn it first, it is unnecessary unless you are participating in aerobic activities for a duration of 60 minutes or greater. A balanced diet with quality ingredients provides all of the necessary nutrients and energy required for most traditional exercise sessions.

  • Note: Most coffees and healthy smoothies at trendy restaurants are really just sugar shakes. Always verify ingredients and macronutrients – if you cannot pronounce an ingredient, it probably should not be consumed.

Myth #15: You need workout equipment to get fit.

  • Although there are many sport specific gyms that require expensive equipment and memberships, the average person can accomplish all of their fitness goals with just pushups, pullups, and walking. The primary factor for success becomes consistency and progressive overload. 80-100 years ago, we walked an average 23.5k steps per day, and now we walk 3.5k steps per day – walk more.

  • Note; There are thousands of specific exercises used to correct muscle imbalances, activate under-stimulated muscle groups, inhibit overactive muscle groups or improve muscular function to an injured region. It is important to work with a highly-qualified, degreed personal trainer/exercise physiologist or physical therapist to develop a safe, effective individualized exercise prescription to improve movement patterns.

Myth #16: If it does not hurt, you are not working hard enough.

  • Pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop doing something. Long gone are the days of, “No Pain, No Gain.” In fact, that phrase has likely caused the majority of the long-term musculoskeletal injuries we are all living with today. A low-moderate intensity exercise program provides all of the necessary benefits and physiological changes required to meet our health goals. The goal of any exercise specialist or physical therapist is for clients to be able to perform all activities of daily living and exercise movement patterns pain-free.

  • Note: Fatigue is different from pain. Fatigue can be caused by many factors, but are mainly brought on by lifestyle choices and stress. Nevertheless, most forms of fatigue can be “cured” through adequate rest, consistent movement, healthy food choices, and stress reduction. If you miss an exercise session because you are too tired – missing the previous exercise session is why you are tired. Movement is life – reset, re-adjust, re-start, re-focus as many times as necessary. I promise, one day you will thank yourself for never giving up.


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