Workout myths that may fake out your fitness plan

Sep 24, 2013 at 11:51 a.m. ET

Some fitness myths have been around for so long that people assume they are true. But beware: you don’t want to set yourself back by listening to hearsay, so don't always believe the hype.

Get the lowdown...
Woman doing situps

Fitness expert Allegra Feamster, creator of The Body Beautiful by Allegra, gives us the real skinny on common workout myths.


Myth: Lifting weights will make you bulky

Truth:  Don't worry ladies. Adding weight lifting to your workout routine will not transform you into the terminator.

"This is a myth that no matter how many times it’s explained, it seems to always prevail," says Feamster. "Essentially, in order to build bulky 'manly' muscle you need high levels of testosterone which women do not naturally have. Lifting moderate to heavy weights is highly effective for leaning out and sculpting the body."


Myth: Doing crunches alone will create a killer six-pack

Truth: Though crunching it out sounds good in theory, the truth is you can’t spot-reduce fat. Feamster points out that what we eat can be our biggest "ab killer".

"I've often seen people do ab work for hours and declare that they do 500 crunches, but it’s not noticeable in their mid-section at all until they've cleaned up their eating," she says. "Unless one is monitoring their eating and incorporating an integrated fitness program involving strength training, cardio and clean eating, only doing crunches will give you an awesome six-pack that will never be seen because it will be hidden under a layer of fat."

Her advice: Mix up core training to guarantee that you're targeting all areas of your abdominal muscles.


Myth: You need to work out for hours to get results

Truth: You don’t need to spend hours sweating it out to get a good workout in.

"The name of the game is to work smarter not harder. A good way to maximize time is to complete integrated workouts that combine both strength training and cardio or high-intensity interval training sessions," says Feamster.

She recommends staying active during your rest period between sets.

"Instead of sitting during your rest period for two to three minutes, jump rope or perform burpees in between sets so that your body is constantly moving. The bouts of high-intensity increase your caloric expenditure, allowing you to achieve the results that you desire."


Myth: The scale never lies

Truth: The scale can easily become a frenemy during your weight-loss journey, and sometimes, it just can't be trusted.

"Let's just say that the scale is deceiving. Your best indicator of weight loss is how your clothes fit. Go for size and not pounds. Though 5 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle are both 5 pounds, the muscle is more compact and denser, so it gives the appearance that it’s heavier on the scale. This is why your clothes will let you know what’s really going on. It’s possible to be 150 pounds and wear a size four or six," says Feamster.


Myth: Belonging to a gym is the most
effective way to lose weight

Truth: You don't need a gym to change your body. Although gyms may have group fitness classes and equipment to help you lose weight, Feamster says it all boils down to your commitment to your fitness goals.

"If you're not committed, it doesn't matter whether you work out at home, in the park or in the gym. Your commitment level will determine if you're willing to come against the challenges and persevere when discouragement sets in. So, before you plop down hundreds of dollars for a gym membership, determine your commitment level by assessing your goals and your underlying desires to reach them."


Myth: You can eat whatever you want if you exercise

Truth: You can erase a good workout by what you eat.To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. Even if you exercise regularly, you can still slow down your progress if you eat bad foods for a majority of the time.

"It's all for naught if you're wasting all of your hard work by eating whatever you want," Feamster says. "You must be mindful of what's on your plate. When it comes to achieving results, you really are what you eat."

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