We all want the same thing when we work-out…results!  But sometimes the exercise facts we hear around the gym or from well-meaning friends are either outdated, or just plain wrong. While it’s true that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for you, there are still some common exercise myths floating around out there that need to be put to rest. Permanently.

Read on to learn nine common misperceptions about exercise that stubbornly persist, and let Beenke help you separate the myths from the exercise facts.


Exercise Myths Vs. Exercise Facts

Myth 1: You can “spot” reduce or target fat loss to a particular area

Exercise Fact:

Sure, working out can help you reduce your overall body fat. But we’re sorry to tell you…you can’t decide where that body fat will come from. If you want to slim down your legs, for example, you’ll need to focus on losing body fat throughout your entire body. Once the layer of fat is gone, then you can start to see the results in the leg muscles underneath.

Myth 2: Crunches are the best way to get “six-pack” abs

Exercise Fact:

Crunches just ain’t gonna cut it. Plus, crunches can be really hard on your neck and back. Trainers will tell you, the best way to tone your ab muscles is a combination of interval training and diet (to get the top layer of fat off), and then doing more complex moves that target all of your ab muscles, like rotating planks and stability ball pelvic tilt crunches.

Myth 3: Don’t work out on an empty stomach

Exercise Fact:

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that your body actually burns more fat when you hit the gym before breakfast. Just be sure to drink plenty of water.

Myth 4: No Pain, no gain

Exercise Fact:

We are not sure how this one got started… but while feeling some discomfort, soreness, or a slight burn is okay, feeling a sharp pain anywhere is absolutely not! This is your body telling you something is wrong and you should stop. If the pain continues, get checked out by your doc to rule out any serious injury.

Myth 5: You should stretch before you work out

Exercise Fact:

Here’s an exercise fact you might not be aware of. Stretching before a workout can loosen tendons and make muscles feel weak and less steady (not what you want). A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that static stretches longer than a minute are actually detrimental to athletic performance. Most trainers suggest ‘warming up’ by walking or slow jogging rather than stretching before a workout. The stretch can come after you’re done.

Exercise Facts for moms
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Myth 6: Working out gives me a free pass to eat the rest of the day

Exercise Fact:

We wish! Exercise is a component of weight loss and maintenance, but at the end of the day, diet is still the critical factor in determining fat loss and overall health. So sorry, drop the brownie and back away slowly…

Myth 7: For women, lifting heavy weights will “bulk” you up

Exercise Fact:

This one drives female bodybuilders nuts, as they spend many hours a day trying to overload their muscles to create bulk…and it is an extremely difficult thing to do. For the rest of us regular gals, lifting a challenging amount of weight during a set of reps will actually help slim you down. Heavier weights burn more calories, which equals greater fat loss. The moral of this story, don’t shy away from the weight room!

Myth 8: Running on a treadmill is as effective as running outdoors

Exercise Fact:

Think about it. When you run outside, you have to deal with things like hills, wind, and uneven terrain…all of which engage more of your muscles and therefore will burn more calories than the same distance on a treadmill. Outdoor running almost always beats the treadmill.

Myth 9: Running beats walking

Exercise Fact:

Not necessarily. Walking and running target the same muscle groups, just at different intensities. Therefore, they come with similar health results if you cover the same distance. If time is a factor, however, then running may come out on top. It takes twice the amount of time to expend the same amount of energy walking as you would running. If you only have a set amount of time (like 30 minutes) running wins.

What exercise myths have you heard that need to be debunked with exercise facts?  Share your thoughts in our Fitness Community.