Home Fitness 7 Worst Fitness Advice You Should Ignore

7 Worst Fitness Advice You Should Ignore

There are lots of misconception floating around health and fitness, but heeding the wrong advice could cause injuries or other health issues. Learn what they are here:

1. This workout will help you zap away your belly fat! 

Source: madsweat.com

Source: madsweat.com

Spot reduction of body fat is not physiologically possible, and anyone telling you otherwise don’t know what they’re saying. Sure, we all want to get rid of that tiny muffin top or love handles that stubbornly stay behind. This is probably why we clamour over exercises that claim to trim those specific areas.

Why it’s not good advice

While it might make sense to us (if I’m using my arm a lot, then it should be the leanest part of my body), multiple studies have disproved this theory.

A 2013 study instructed subjects to train their non-dominant leg on a leg press device over 12 weeks. Each session was about 960-1,200 reps. At the end of the study, there were no significant changes in body mass, bone mass, bone mineral density, lean mass, and body fat percentage. Body fat mass went down by 5.1% but the most interesting bit was that fat storage in the upper body and torso area had decreased significantly, rather than the trained leg. Conclusion? The targetted training programme was effective in reducing fat mass, but not in the trained body segment and rather all over the body. 

Targeted fat loss does not work because the fat that’s broken down to use as fuel comes from all over the body instead of just the spot you’re working on [1]. Targetting a single spot may help grow the muscles in that region, but it does not specifically reduce fat in that region.

What to do instead

Doing 1,000 crunches a day will not help give you a six pack, although it will indeed strength your muscles. Rather than overworking certain parts of your body, it’s best to combine proper nutrition with a well-rounded exercise regime that includes both cardio and strength training.

2. No pain, no gain!

Source: gopixpic.com

Source: gopixpic.com

If you don’t work hard for it, you won’t achieve any results, right? That is definitely true. However, there’s a difference between working hard at something and hurting yourself.

Why it’s not good advice

This piece of advice makes anyone who may be experiencing abnormal pain shy away from expressing their doubts. Sure, it’s normal to feel a bit (or even a lot) of discomfort when you are exerting yourself, you need to identify the difference between an exercise being hard, and one that’s being painful, otherwise you could risk injuring yourself.

What to do instead

Pay attention to your body. According to owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning Michael Boyle, who’s helped Olympians, National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL) players improve their athletic performance,

“Discomfort as a result of exercise should be limited to your working muscles alone. You need to gauge when and where pain occurs during an exercise” [2]

How do you differentiate between good and bad pain? Watch out for sharp, point specific, constant pain. See if they’re occuring in the muscles you’re working, or in other parts of your body. Pay attention to when they occur. Is it during, before, or after the exercise? Listen to your body and ask for advice from a professional if you’re in doubt.

3. Don’t lift heavy weights or you’ll bulk up

Source: cbconditioning.blogspot.com

Source: cbconditioning.blogspot.com

Many women stick to cardio and shy away from weights because they have no intention of becoming She-Hulk. Unfortunately, that takes away all the benefits you can attain from a great training programme that includes weights.

Why it’s not good advice

While it’s possible for women to get bulky, the female body isn’t built the same way as a male body, and we don’t gain muscle mass as easily. This is because testosterone is the main hormone responsible for gain in muscle mass and men have significantly higher testosterone levels (more than 10 times; men produce 6-8mg while women product 0.5mg daily [3]) compared to women [4].

Female bodybuilders have to take external sources of testosterone, steroids, or protein etc to look like how they do. So if you’re avoiding strength training because of that, you’re losing out on all the benefits you stand to gain, like fat loss, a more toned body, stronger bones, and more.

What to do instead

Incorporate some strength training along with your regular cardio routine for optimal fitness and health. Don’t know how to start? Here’s an easy guide to weight train without equipment.

4. The best time to work out is xxx time 

Source: getyourbridebody.com

Source: getyourbridebody.com

You’ve probably heard some people telling you that the best time to work out is in the A.M, while others swear by their P.M workouts. Some say that working out at a certain time (ie: in the morning) burns more calories. So which exactly is it? Is it better to work out in the morning or the evening?

Why it’s not good advice

There isn’t enough reliable evidence to support that working out a certain time of the day helps burn more calories. In fact, experts believe that the best time to work out in a day, is the time that you can stick to and keep to consistently [5, 6]. If you’re not a morning person, you’re generally not going to follow through on your 6am running plans.

What to do instead

Rather than listening to hearsay and trying to work out a certain hour, find the time which works the best for you. This time depends completely on you, on where you’ll be each day, on who’s joining you for the workout etc. Tailor your time to you. If you can’t work out alone, find a gym near your office and find a gym buddy among your colleagues to go with you after work. If you like spending time alone, get a run in in the mornings or evenings when you have uninterrupted time to yourself. Basically it’s all about finding what works for you.

5. Machines are safer and more effective than free weights

Source: drphilpage.com

Source: drphilpage.com

While machines are great for beginners and ensure correct movements, they may still cause injury when used inaccurately and can be less effective on certain muscle groups.

Why it’s not good advice

It throws free weights under a bad light and may make you falsely assume that free weights aren’t effective or safe. As machines involve moving a weight along a pre-determined path, you will be neglecting the stabilizing muscle groups, which in the long run will up your risk of chronic injury. Machines are also fixed and do not accommodate your body specifically, which may cause injury too. Weights allow you to use a full range of motion without a specific pattern, and also trains your stabilizing muscles, but require more skill to use [7,8,9].

What to do instead

If you’re a complete beginner to weight training, using the machine might be useful the first weeks. However, understand that using free weights in your routine can also help you build a strong body, and perhaps try to incorporate that into your workout. Get tips from body builders or a fitness professional on how to use free weights so you can build up your functional strength.

6. Squats are bad for your knees

Source: spartan.com

Source: spartan.com

This one is a popular gym advice given to weight-training newbies. Squats are bad for your knees, which is true, but only if you squat in bad form.

Why it’s not good advice

Squatting in the right form comes with a host of benefits. Not only do they strengthen your knees by strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees, they burn fat, boost endurance, and strengthen your bones [10].

What to do instead

Do those squats, but pay attention to form, as well as your warm-ups, progression strategies. Make sure to choose the appropriate resistance for your fitness level so you don’t end up injuring yourself and blaming it on squats [11]. Learn how to do a proper squat here.

7. Stretching before exercising will help prevent injuries

Source: leanitup.com

Source: leanitup.com

Even in school we learn that stretching helps prevent injuries, but we’ve got the timing of the stretching wrong. You should be doing it after you workouts, not before.

Why it’s not good advice

Several studies have now shown that static stretching before exercising could be counterproductive to your workout. It doesn’t help to prevent injuries and could actually affect your strength and speed [12]. A review of 104 studies on people who only did stretching exercises during their warm-up showed that it reduced muscle strength by 5.5% [13]. Another study showed that men who did stretches before lifting weights lifted 8.3% less weight than those who didn’t stretch [14].

What to do instead

Rather than doing static stretching, experts suggest that warming up dynamically may be better for your workoutTry moving the muscles that you’ll need in your workout. Do some jumping jacks, squats, skip rope or whatever that’ll get your heart rate gradually going up and loosen your muscles so you don’t get injured. If you’re out of ideas, try this moderately tough warm-up.

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A writer with a penchant for alliteration, Jolene is also a seaweed and green tea junkie in a love/hate relationship with working out. She likes reading everything, from cereal boxes to tombstone inscriptions, and trying to find meaning behind the words.

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