Bad advice, outdated information, inconsistent recommendations—when it comes to what your workout routine “should” look like, things can get confusing fast.
We asked a group of trainers to share their least favorite fitness myths so you can change your thinking and improve your fitness journey with Aaptiv ASAP.
Read on for common health misconceptions that get in the way of accomplishing your goals.
1. Myth: You have to be flexible to do yoga.
“So not true. Yoga is an effective cross-training tool for all levels. It helps lengthen the overall body, strengthen the core, increase flexibility, and bring awareness to connecting breath and movement. In addition, this is helpful in physiologically decompressing the body, lowering blood pressure, increasing oxygen intake, and carrying an overall sense of calm.” —Aaptiv trainer Ceasar Barajas
2. Myth: Long hours of steady-state cardio are the key to weight loss.
“Nope. Cardio will absolutely help with weight loss initially. But our bodies adapt to change over time, so you have to change it up. Long-distance cardio can also burn lean muscle for fuel—and muscle is what helps us burn fat. So, you have to add in some component of resistance training to make sure this doesn’t happen. Adding in different forms of cardio such as HIIT, intervals, and incline walking are also good ways to keep challenging your body so it doesn’t adapt or plateau.” —Aaptiv trainer Candice Cunningham
3. Myth: Drastic calorie-cutting is necessary for weight loss.
“That may work for some people, for a short amount of time, but it’s not foolproof. Our bodies are smart and they’ll do everything necessary to keep themselves functioning as best as possible. So when a person goes into a major calorie deficit, the body will stop functioning at its highest level. You’ll stop losing fat and instead you’ll begin storing it. You’ll also be unable to build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the easier time your body has burning fat.
“Rather than focusing on a calorie deficit, focus more on eating whole foods that your body can use as fuel. Listen to your body. Fit in daily [physical] activity to build muscle and do some cardio to benefit your heart and lungs.” —personal trainer Kyra Williams
4. Myth: Being healthy or in shape is all about exercise.
“I speak to individuals daily who tell me they work out all of the time but see no change or even gain weight. You must fuel yourself properly with the right balance of nutrient-dense whole foods to keep your metabolism functioning at full potential. When you’re under- or overeating, your metabolism can become compromised, which can result in bigger issues such as thyroid and hormonal imbalances.” —Aaptiv trainer Kelly Chase
5. Myth: Weights will make you bulky.
“Weights actually burn fat and build muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space. Therefore, the lower your body fat percentage, the leaner you will appear.” —Aaptiv trainer Rochelle Moncourtois
“I still hear people telling women to not get too big or bulky by lifting weights. Lifting weights will make you strong, not bulky. Eating poorly while lifting heavy, doing cardio, and even doing yoga can make you put on weight and look bulky. Improper nutrition will undermine any exercise regime.” —Cut Seven trainer Kasia Galica
6. Myth: Running has to be super hard all the time.
“People often think running should be a super difficult activity. So, they turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy by running at too high of a perceived exertion. If instead, you were to run at an easy pace where you could hold a fairly normal conversation, you’ll likely enjoy the workout more. You’ll be able to run farther, more consistently, and lower your injury risk.” —running coach Kyle Kranz
7. Myth: Fasting before a workout aids in weight loss.
“Our bodies need fuel, or they’re going to pull for energy from sources within us. [In some cases] that may mean using hard-earned muscle. Eating something light 30 minutes to an hour before [exercise] helps fuel [your body] for the workout.” —Cunningham
8. Myth: You can spot-target fat for faster results.
“If someone wants to lose fat in their belly area, they tend to think that a lot of crunches will do the trick. Or if they want to lose fat around their chest, they focus on bench press variations and push-ups. It seems logical because you feel the fatigue in that area, but unfortunately, you can’t really focus on a specific area for fat loss. If you want to lose weight from any particular spot, the best exercises you can do would be total-body moves because they have the highest calorie-burning potential.” —Exercise.com head trainer Tyler Spraul
9. Myth: Your weight determines how healthy you are.
“One number isn’t enough to tell if a is healthy or not. Someone can be naturally thin, but have horrible eating habits, therefore putting their heart at risk. Someone could be on a steroid because of a medical condition, resulting in temporary weight gain. I think weight is an easy way to measure one aspect of someone’s health, but it should be one of many things that are looked at.” —founder of Medical Fitness Pros Jason Hodge
10. Myth: If you drink/eat [insert food], you’ll have an amazing body.
“There is no magic pill, red hot chilli pepper, or special tea that will give you better health when you’re sitting on the couch. Healthy fitness and nutrition is the only hack!” —nutrition coach Adrienne Daly
11. Myth: Quick results are common.
“There are many trainers, companies, or other fitness entities that sell the idea of quick results. Real results take time. That said, popular media and some fitness personalities sell the “get it now” mentality. When people fail to reach their goals quickly but see other people reaching goals, they think that person has it easier, that person has good genes, or that person’s on steroids. But every person who has achieved significant physical goals has dedicated significant time, usually years.” —personal trainer Nathan DeMetz