21 Biggest Myths About Exercise

Between the number of health gurus, professionals and information out there on health, it’s hard to piece together what is actually real and what is a complete myth. Fortunately, with so much information out there, there have been many scientists to test out these theories and determine what’s legitimate and what is a myth.

Below is a list of some of the many myths about exercising that are worth considering. If you believed in these, it’s well worth looking at those beliefs and making some adjustments.


Stretching Is A Way To Prevent Injuries

The idea is that loosening your muscles pre-workout will ensure you are nice and limber. Because of this, you are minimizing your risk of muscles tearing or pulling. This idea though is a myth, as it was uncovered in a 2007 study. The study concluded that static stretching was ineffective in reducing any exercise-related injuries.

Instead, if you are looking to stay safe, focus on exercises that increase blood flow to your muscles. This idea is supported by a 2018 study where the study concluded that doing those exercises for 5 to 15 minutes will be more beneficial for you.



Fat Will Eventually Turn To Muscle And Vice Versa

What’s important to note is that you can burn fat and build muscle just as much as you gain fat and lose muscle. While these two seem interconnected, do remember they are two different types of tissue.



You Lose Muscle Mass After Only A Week Of Inactivity

While there is truth behind inactivity leading to diminishing gains, it takes a while for that stuff to evaporate. A 2007 study found that athletes lost strength performance after four weeks of inactivity.

While not everyone is an athlete, the reality is that even if you are exercising regularly for a few times every week for several months, it’ll take more for your energy and muscle mass to deplete.



The More Cardio You’ll Do The More Weight You’ll Lose

Despite what others think, spending several hours on a treadmill isn’t the way for you to lose weight quickly. If you want to be shedding, you’re better off looking for other methods.

To put it into perspective, one pound of fat measures roughly 3,500 calories. While that doesn’t sound too bad, a 2018 study found that the average person burns roughly 100 calories per mile of running.

What this means is if you want to lose a single pound of fat, you’re going to need to run 35 miles, which is shy of a marathon and a half.



The Earlier In The Morning You Work Out The Better

You hear this all the time by health experts and other active people that your best time to exercise is first thing in the morning. It kickstarts your metabolism and getting it done now means you don’t have to worry about it later.

While that is true, there is a little bit of misleading. For one, a 2019 study found that working out between the hours of 1pm and 4pm is just as effective as working out early in the morning. So really, the time you workout doesn’t matter so much and really boils down to if you are a morning person or not.



All Workout Sessions Must Be At Least One Hour

Sure, many fitness programs these days will last for an entire hour, but it’s important to keep in mind that that isn’t the bar you need to be hitting all the time. According to a 2012 study, those who exercised for only 30 minutes can get the same or even better results than those who regularly work out for an hour.

For those who worked out 30 minutes per day lost on average eight pounds over three months. Those who exercised for a day periodically only lost six pounds.

What this shows is exercising for longer periods of time doesn’t really provide much benefits in terms of losing body weight or fat.



Lifting Weights is The Way To Bulk Up

Whenever we think of weight lifting, we think of the bulky and buff people doing deadlifts. With this in mind, it makes sense for people who want to bulk up or add muscles will immediately turn to a lifting routine.

The thing is though, weight training will help, there are other factors at work. There’s actually a lot to it, like counting your calories and being methodical in how much weight you are lifting.

In truth, muscle mass gains stem from heavy weight training and an excess in calories. If you’re doing resistance training every one to three days per week and not getting enough calories, you’re likely not going to see much muscle growth.



Bigger Muscles Mean More Strength

Just because someone has more muscles than you, doesn’t always means they are stronger than you. One study in 2015 found that weight lifters and sprinters actually have stronger muscles fibres than even bodybuilders.

That’s not to say bodybuilders are weaker. They certainly have more muscles fibres than regular weight lifters and sprinters. That being said, this shows its a scenario of quality over quantity.



To Lose Fat In A Specific Area, Take Up Spot-Training

The idea around spot-training is that you are burning fat cells within specific areas on your body. You’d do this by training in that specific area more than others. For example, the training would suggest if you want to burn fat in your lower abdomen, you must do several hundred leg lifts. That or maybe doing thousands of squats in the stretch of days, you’d improve your quads.

While there is certainly some merit to doing those exercises and they are good for you, there’s actually no science behind that much being that beneficial to you.

A 1983 study once tested this by getting subjects to do 5,000 sit-ups over the stretch of 27 days (that’s roughly 186 sit ups per day.). After participants did that for so long, the study found that there was no significant change to the people’s body weight or body fat by the end of that study.



If You Want The Most Gains, Get Protein In You Stat

If you’re going to the gym, you’ll likely find so many people guzzling down protein shakes like they’re nothing. If you’re wondering what that’s all about, it’s got something to do with what’s called the “anabolic window”. It’s basically the timeframe post-workout where your body’s protein synthesis is at its max.

Another way to say that is this is the window of opportunity where your body is in muscle building mode.

Because muscles need protein and it helps with general muscle growth, people believe that you’ve got to put protein into your body within the next 30 minutes or else you’ll miss out on it. The truth is that’s a lie and that the anabolic window can be open for as long as 24 hours after workout.

That’s not to say the act of taking protein immediately is wrong. It’s merely not as important as people play it up to be. So long as you get your protein at some point during the day you should be good.



Never Work Out With Friends As It’s Distracting

If you bring along a friend to the gym, you may be sucked into conversation. While some people think of this as a huge time waster, keep in mind that tag-teaming can supercharge any routine as well. One study in 2015 found that those who were with their buddies worked out harder than those who did it solo.

This kind of makes sense since having someone else there with you can help you in being more accountable. Not only that but deep down we both know you want to try and impress your friend subconsciously so you’ll work out harder anyway.



Lean Muscle is Different From Bulk

You may have heard talk about “lean muscle” tossed around in the gym before but I’ve got something to tell you.

While that term is certainly common these days, there is no such thing as “lean muscle.”

I turn to Pamela Geisel, MS, CSCS, CPT, an exercise physiologist who told Self in 2017, that the term was nothing but a marketing tactic targeting women. Though the term in question was “long, lean muscle” we still use it for that reason. The term was created for women who were afraid of “bulking up.”

But what’s also worth noting is that all of our muscles are technically lean in nature already. There is no way for us to make them more lean or less lean as there are no exercise regimen in the world out there that can manipulate the length of our muscles.



You Need To Show Up To The Gym Every Day

Common logic dictates if you want to be in better health, you need to exercise more. For some people it means adding gym time into your daily routine.

While that can be sound logic, people fail to realize a few things. First of all, if you’re going to a gym, you’re going to be working out more than usual. The thing with that though is that you need to allow your body to rest up after those sessions.

Those resting sessions are what your muscles use to repair themselves and strengthen themselves. After all, working out is the idea of injuring your body in order for it to repair itself and grow stronger for next time.

That process becomes harder to do if you are more focused on exercising all the time.

Secondly, this resting is used for another purpose. It’s to bring your muscles back but to restore the muscles fibres too. If you are constantly exercising, your muscles are too worn out to grow properly.



Always Do Cardio First

A lot of people think that doing cardio first is important, but that is far from the truth. While this standard across most practices, you’re better off going to your other exercises before cardio.


Well Max Lowery, a personal trainer, uncovered in 2017 that cardio actually depletes muscle glycogen stores. In English that means the stored energy that you use for explosive activity like lifting heavier weights or doing other tougher activities.

What this means is that doing cardio now means that the training you’re doing for your strength and weight will be less effective.



Lifting Doesn’t Do Anything For Weight Loss

When you think of losing weight or burning fat, people’s immediate thoughts go to cardio as the method. But as I mentioned above, cardio takes a long time for you to see any kind of results if you’re looking to burn fat.

But not only do people focus on cardio, they forget entirely about lifting weights or doing anything with weights. The thing is though, the weight room is probably the best and fastest way to be losing weight. One study in 2019 found that a person weighing 155 pounds burned roughly 112 calories per 30 minutes of weight training.

Compare that to cardio, you’re losing 298 calories per 30 minutes.

Sure cardio is more, but those numbers are still pretty impressive.



To Get Larger, Lift Larger

One study in 2016 uncovered a pervasive exercise to be a total myth. The study took a group of lifters and put them into two groups. One was given heavy weights to lift and had to do 8 to 12 reps. The other group were given lighter weights and were asked to do 20 to 25 reps.

The end results showed that both groups gained roughly the same amount of muscle. This study has gone to show that two factors matter in getting larger: both the reps and the weight lifted.



The More You Sweat, The More Fat You’ll Burn

While you might think your cardio is allowing you to shed pounds in real time, that’s really not the case. A study in 2018 found that while you do lose weight whenever you’re sweating, it’s worth noting you’re losing water in that moment rather than fat.

This makes sense since even on a hot summer day we are sweating and that doesn’t mean we’re losing weight by merely standing out in warm weather. Instead, sweating is our body’s way of cooling ourselves down. When we’re actually sweating, it means that we need to rehydrate.



Cardio Machines Calories Burned Count Are Always Accurate

There is a sense of satisfaction from going through a workout session on an exercise bike or a treadmill and reading how many calories you’ve burned. While many people believe that those numbers are accurate, a study in 2018 found that elliptical machines overestimate your numbers.

Specifically, for every 30 minutes of exercise on those machines spent, they’ll be off by 100 calories each time. It also seems to be current on all machines that have these particular features.



The Way To A Six Pack Abs Is Crunches And Sit-Ups

Crunches, sit-ups, and other exercises that focus on abs are great for building core muscles and with enough frequency can help toning your abs. All of this is dependent on how good of a diet you’ve got in place.

With this in mind, it’s clear there is more to getting shredded, cut, or ripped. Some of it boils down to the aspects mentioned above, but also down to biology too. If you’ve got a thick layer of fat surrounding your abdomen, it’ll be tough to create that six pack that you’re looking for.

And let me tell you, no amount of exercising is going to fix that. Doesn’t matter if you can deadlift 400 pounds or you’re doing 100 sit ups and crunches per day.



Sports Drinks Are Good For You

When you’re looking for a way to rehydrate, some people turn to sports drinks to help them out. The thing is though, in most circumstances, those sports drinks will do little benefit to you and can actually hinder your progress.


Well because they are filled to the brim with sugar and in other cases it’s unnecessary calories and sodium too. In a 2019 article, the site livestrong.com found that the drink helped in delivering specific electrolytes to your body. If you don’t need them it’ll be unhelpful as a single 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains upwards of 34 grams of sugar alone.



If You’re Gaining Weight, You’re Getting Fat

The final myth to uncover is one that some may be the most familiar with. If you’re just getting into exercising you may find doing a regular routine will give you two results: either nothing has happened or you have actually gained weight.

While seeing the weight gain can be disheartening for some, it doesn’t always mean you are getting fatter. In most cases it’s likely due to the your body adding muscle tissue. In other words your muscles are getting stronger little by little.

What this boils down to is a saying: muscles weigh more than fat.

So in cases where you are not losing any weight it may be because your muscle gains are equal to the amount of fat that you’ve lost as well.

At the end of the day this comes down to what you are looking for in your health and what tools you are using to measure it. If your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle, a typical run-of-the-mill scale is probably not going to be a good indicator for you. Instead you’re better off looking for more advanced body composition tools that’ll show you the percentages of fat, bone, muscles, and water in your body.

There are all kinds of information out there about health. But before you get into believing them, it’s worth looking at the studies that support those claims. Make sure you verify the information before you start acting on them immediately.