Over the years, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy fitness and weight loss “advice”.  You’ve probably heard many of these myths yourself.  While some of it sounds completely far out and crazy, some of it sounds legitimate and based in science, especially when it comes from a seemingly knowledgeable and reliable source.  Here are 13 of the more common myths and what makes them untrue:

Myth #1 Running is bad for your knees

Running is not bad for your knees.  While the repeated impact places stress on your knees, unless you have knee issues or some type of muscular imbalance, your knees will likely not suffer any damage or any pain.  Weaknesses in the hips especially can cause knee pain.  If you do experience knee pain while running, it is important to consult your doctor and determine the source of pain.

Myth #2 Crunches will help reduce belly fat

Unfortunately, we are not able to target where we want to lose fat.  Eating healthy, real foods and a balanced exercise routine will help burn fat all over.

Myth #3 If you’re not working up a sweat, you’re not working hard enough

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself off and not necessarily an indication of exertion.  Some people just sweat more than others.  So don’t worry if you aren’t as sweaty as the guy next to you at the gym, don’t worry – it doesn’t mean he’s working any harder than you.

Myth #4 No pain, no gain

You may be a little sore within a day or two of working out but shouldn’t feel pain while working out.  If you feel pain during your workout, it’s a good idea to stop and see if the pain goes away.  Working through the pain can lead to serious injury and is not a normal part of working out.

Myth #5 Women should avoid lifting weights because they will bulk up

We’ve all seen massive body-building women who can lift massive amounts of weight and parade around in a bikini.  But don’t let this scare you away from lifting weights regularly.  To get a body like that, you would need to follow a very specific diet and lift very heavy weights.  By following a healthy diet and lifting weights 2 to 3 times a week, you’ll simply tone up your muscles and help increase bone density that will reduce your chances of osteoporosis.

Myth #6 More exercise is better

Excessive exercise can end up being harmful for your body.  Scheduling rest days is a critical part of any exercise program.  Your body needs time to rest and heal itself to truly get the benefit of your hard work.

Myth #7 Carbs are bad

Carbohydrates have a bad reputation but in truth are a necessary component of any good fitness program.  Carbs provide the fuel needed for intense workouts.  Just be sure to select the right kind of carbs and avoid processed carbs.

Myth #8 Avoid fat to lose weight

Fats are actually a necessary part of a healthy diet.  The key is to eat healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and salmon.  These fats help regulate your appetite and help to maintain healthy hormone levels.

Myth #9 To lose weight, only do cardio and then start lifting weights

Weight lifting helps create lean muscle mass with expends more energy throughout the day.  Cardio sheds more calories but both work hand in hand for weight loss so be sure to include cardio and weights.

Myth #10 Exercise can erase a bad diet

Most people overestimate the calories they burn with exercise and underestimate the calories in food.  While you may think you can exercise so that you can eat whatever you want, more than likely you’ll end up gaining weight.

Myth #11 Always stretch before exercising

Stretching cold muscles can weaken the muscles and increase the risk of injury.  Rather than stretching before working out, try warming up by getting your blood pumping and stretch AFTER your workout.

Myth #12 You’ll only burn fat at your target heart rate

Switching up intensities between high and low intensity will burn more fat over a steady effort.  High intensity interval training has been shown to be more effective at burning fat and burns a higher number of calories.

Myth #13 You need a gym membership to get results

Having a gym membership is completely unnecessary.  While a gym is nice because of the equipment and classes offered but you can just as easily get an effective workout outside or at home.

What other fitness myths have you heard?

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