Fitness Myths

Woman jogging
Are treadmills better for your knees?

Even if you've been hitting the gym and working out for years, chances are, you've fallen for a few fitness myths. While some myths may contain half-truths, many of these exercise-induced myths have largely been debunked by current research. Have you fallen for one of these? Find out.

The Top 10 Fitness Myths

There are numerous myths out there that have largely been debunked, but surprisingly, these 10 are still in circulation.

Myth: You Can Spot Reduce

No matter how many crunches you do, it's not going to be possible to melt fat off of just your midsection. People lose weight fairly evenly over their bodies, although some body types might be built to hang onto some weight in certain areas while losing it completely in others.

If you're hoping to slim your thighs or flatten your belly, your best bet is to work your whole body with a focus on cardio.

Myth: Aerobic Workouts Boost Your Metabolism for Hours After You Stop

The myth that getting in a workout in the morning will keep your body burning calories at a higher rate all day is only partially true. You do end up burning more calories after you get off the treadmill, but only about 20 over the course of the day, rather than the several hundred extra many people seem to expect.

Myth: Treadmills Are Better for Your Knees

People with knee problems may have been told that running on a treadmill gives you more cushion than running on the pavement, thereby sparing your knees. The real stress on your knees doesn't come from the surface you run on, however. It comes from your body weight, which provides up to four times more pressure on your knees per pound with each step.

Myth: Stretching Before a Workout Prevents Injury

In fact, stretching before you workout may not do much of anything at all. Stretching after a workout, once your body is warmed up may help to increase your range of motion, but stretching beforehand will not.

To help prevent injury, try warming up with some calisthenics instead and save the stretching for later.

Myth: Sports Bras Only Prevent Bouncing

Sports bras are crucial for preventing that painful bounce, but they actually do more than that - even if you're flat chested. Sports bras can actually help prevent your breasts from sagging more as you age. The bouncing action of high impact activities can actually stretch out the ligaments that hold your breasts in place, causing them to droop.

To prevent both painful bouncing and eventual sagging, get a well-fitted sports bra and replace it every six months to a year.

Myth: Lifting Weights Gives You Bulk

woman weightlifting

If you've been avoiding the weight rack because you're worried about bulking up, you have nothing to fear. It's the testosterone in men that helps them build large, bulky muscles. Women, on the other hand develop long, lean muscles. These muscles can help boost your metabolism, which in turn will help you get lean - not bulky.

Myth: You Can Eat Whatever You Want as Long as You Exercise

Exercise does play a role in what you like and how much fat you gain - but only about 20 percent. The other 80 percent comes from the food you eat. Many people also tend to overestimate how many calories they burned during a workout and may overeat as well. To get the best results, keep track of how many calories you burn and make sure you get the key nutrients and calories you need.

Myth: You Only Burn Fat in Your Target Heart Zone

Anyone that has ever set foot on a treadmill or exercise bike has seen the graph that shows your target heart rate for fat loss and for aerobic workouts, which can lead you to believe you stop burning fat if you push yourself too hard.

Actually, you burn a mixture of fat and carbs no matter what your heart rate is. The body is built to get the most efficient amount of fuel it can, which is usually not solely fat burning. Get the best results by mixing high and low intensity through your workout.

Myth: You'll Burn More Fat if You Exercise On an Empty Stomach

This statement is partially true - if you workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, your body will tap into fat reserves to help get the fuel it needs. Unfortunately, it will also tap into your muscle supply, burning even more muscle than it does fat, which can be counterproductive as lower muscle means a lower metabolism.

Myth: You Should Push to Muscle Fatigue

Pushing yourself to complete muscle fatigue is a sure way of overtraining - not of getting the results you want. Fatiguing your muscles may also make you sloppier, causing you to lift or move in a way that is unnatural. This, in turn, can lead to injury that sidelines you for a while.

Instead, work to about 80 to 85 percent of your capability to get the best results.

Exercise Smart

Pay attention to common fitness myths as they get debunked to help make sure you get the best results from every workout. While many myths do contain a grain of truth, there's often more to the story. If you hear an adage getting repeated a few too many times at the gym, you may want to double check that it isn't a myth as well - just in case.

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Fitness Myths