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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton


Whether you’ve heard them from friends, family, or gym buddies, certain fitness myths persist that may cause us to keep bad habits. As you regularly update your routine based on progress made and new goals set, here’s what you should know about common fitness myths

1. Stretching Before a Workout

While this myth is partially rooted in truth, it’s the type of stretching you want to pay attention to when it comes to injury prevention.

Basic stretches like reaching for your toes are known as “static” stretching and are more likely to result in an injury. In this position, the muscles are overextended while still “cold”. In most cases, these actions also have very little to do with your upcoming workout routine.

It’s recommended to warm up through light cardio and “dynamic” stretches related to the activity you’re about to do, so your muscles are prepared. Dynamic stretching can help a joint maintain, if not increase, its range of motion. At the same time, cardio moves help get your blood flowing. Engage in five to 15 minutes of cardio before starting your exercise routine.


2. Pre and Post-Workout Snacks

There are a few myths around eating and exercise. You may have heard you’ll burn more calories and have a more impactful routine on an empty stomach. Others say you need a bit of protein to fuel your muscles for better performance.

While protein provides energy and helps with muscle recovery, a standard 30-minute workout doesn’t always necessitate snacks before and after. If you notice your stomach grumbling, have a small protein-based snack. Yet a meal from earlier in the day is likely to be sufficient, otherwise, you risk consuming extra calories that can contribute to weight gain or cause a plateau.

Depending on your physical fitness level and goals, it’s important to fuel your body properly. Consult with a doctor or nutrition specialist on a meal plan that will help you achieve these goals, without putting your health at risk.

3. Longer Workouts Are More Meaningful

Working out harder doesn’t always mean you’re working out smarter. Spending hours on the treadmill or lifting weights can cause muscle strain or an overuse injury. This also doesn’t factor in poor form or insufficient equipment, which could lead to injury before you reach your goal.

As an alternative, break up your routine between cardio, mobility and resistance exercises for variety and to work on all muscle groups equally.

4. You Can Target Certain Areas

Plenty of workouts claim to target one area of your body, whether it’s your arms, legs or core. While these routines help build muscle, they likely won’t drastically transform that area. At the same time, focusing strictly on one spot at the expense of other areas does not drive overall change. As a result, many people end up discouraged and give up on exercise altogether.

To combat the spot training myth, target your whole body during a fitness routine. Doing so can help strengthen your muscles and encourage weight loss to produce better overall results.

5. Eat More Protein, Exclude Fat and Carbs

Diets that zero in one protein while reducing carbohydrates and fats are not as effective as you may think. While you don’t want to primarily consume refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, protein is not a solution for everything – nor a promise for weight loss. In fact, consuming excess amounts of protein can increase your risk for heart disease and obesity.

Most carnivores get sufficient daily protein, without the need for shakes and supplements. Having two to three ounces of a lean protein per meal is often enough to fuel the body.

Several health trends have encouraged the average person to avoid carbs and fats altogether, with the promise of losing weight. Carbohydrates provide energy and are a valuable source of fuel, yet not all carbs are equal in value. For this purpose, it’s recommended you prioritize complex carbohydrates, including fruit, beans, and brown rice.

As far as fats are concerned, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are key to brain function. Rather than sticking to a strictly low-fat diet, you can get healthy fats through sources like avocado, olive and coconut oils, chia seeds, and other foods with Omega-3 fatty acids like wild-caught fish.

6. No Pain, No Gain

Pain and soreness should not be used to measure whether you’ve had an effective workout. On one hand, it can indicate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). On the other, it could be a sign your muscle tissue has torn. Workouts with repeat movements can worsen the tear, resulting in a more serious injury with time.

DOMS can last up to 48 hours after you’ve completed a routine and your body eventually adjusts. Yet, if you routinely ignore or push through pain, your muscles regularly feel tight or you’re experiencing mobility issues, you may need to step away or even seek medical attention to address the sensation.

7. More Sweat Equals a Better Workout

Although sweat will likely drip during an intense workout, other factors need to be considered – for instance, the conditions in which you’re exercising.

Sweat occurs to regulate your body’s core temperature. While it does indicate your body is burning more calories, this process will eventually stop, and continuing to push may lead to fatigue.

8. Lifting Weights Makes You Bulky

Men and women often approach this fitness myth from different perspectives. Male athletes and fitness enthusiasts tend to spend hours in the gym with free weights or machines, hoping for larger-looking muscles. For women, this myth can result in limited use or complete avoidance of free weights and other strength-training exercises.

Yet the fact is, weightlifting on its own does not lead to bodybuilder muscles. Particularly for women, female hormones prevent excess muscle mass. Lifting offers several health benefits for your heart, joints and ligaments, metabolism, posture, and balance. It also helps increase strength and energy.

9. Detoxing to Lose Weight

Over the years, this fitness myth has fueled many juice cleanses. While intermittent fasting has recently received greater attention, removing solid foods from your diet can affect your metabolism long term. Especially as you’re working out with specific fitness goals in mind, this can slow down your metabolism, causing your weight to plateau and your body to hold on to fat.

10. Morning Workouts Increase Metabolism

Although some people might start their day with a morning workout to feel more alert and increase energy levels, fitness at any time of day offers the same benefit. Studies have shown that if you’re not a morning person, waking up early to work out can throw off your circadian rhythm, causing you to feel tired and sluggish throughout the day and your metabolism to slow. 

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