If you’ve ever spent time at the gym or spoken to friends and family about fitness, chances are you’ve unknowingly heard dozens of fitness myths. “No pain, no gain,” “running is bad for your knees,” and “you should always stretch before workouts” are some common beliefs about fitness you may have heard at some point in your life. But are these things really true?
Some popular fitness myths can actually increase your risk for injury, and prevent you from making gains and weight-loss progress.
Take a look at these seven common fitness myths, busted.
1. Spot reduction works
Targeting one specific area of your body may tighten the muscles in that area, but won’t necessarily reduce fat in that particular area. Exercise consistently and regularly to shed excess fat and see positive results. Combine cardio activities like running and swimming with intense strength movements effective at burning fat, like squats, dead-lifts, and planks.
2. You should always stretch before workouts
Doing static stretches before exercise can actually loosen your tendons and weaken your muscles — increasing the risk for injury. Save static stretching for the end of your workout, and do dynamic stretching before your workout to benefit more from your training session. Dynamic stretching is more like a warm-up, and can involve jumping jacks or jogging in place.
3. Shakes are ideal pre- and post-workout meals
Many weight-loss shakes are high in additives and preservatives, and lack the protein, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to build muscle and lose fat. Commercial weight-loss shakes fail to provide your body with the energy it needs to have a productive workout, which may increase your risk for injury. Instead of relying on premade shakes, choose healthy foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
4. Lifting causes women to bulk up
Genetically, women have only a fraction of the testosterone men have, and cannot bulk up from lifting and strength training. Strength training actually burns almost double the amount of calories, and can help women slim down even faster.
5. “No pain, no gain.”
This highly popular fitness saying is false, considering your workouts should produce some soreness, but no pain. Feelings of sharp pain can signal an injury, and mean you may have pushed yourself hard enough to experience a major setback. Listen to your body, and see a doctor immediately if your workout has triggered pain.
6. Treadmill running is better than outdoor running
Treadmill running is often much easier than outdoor running because it takes place in a controlled environment. Unfortunately, easier isn’t necessarily better when it comes to burning calories and losing weight. Running outdoors is usually more intense and more effective for weight loss since you’re also working against the wind, uneven terrain, and other natural elements.
7. Running is bad for your knees
Many people assume that running is directly responsible for knee problems and weakened knees later in life. But knee pain in runners is usually caused by failing to stretch and work the iliotibial (IT) band, which is the thick tendon that runs the length of the outer side of the hip to the major bone in the lower leg. Runners can often prevent knee pain by strengthening hip and glute muscles, and using a foam roller to loosen their IT bands.
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