The 4 most popular fitness myths you’ve been tricked into believing

by Cassidy Kmetz

As the fitness industry gains more and more popularity, an influx of “diet fads” and “fitness challenges” take their place in the spotlight.

Both trends often involve eliminating a food group entirely or over-exercising to compensate for the calories in the fried chicken wings from Saturday’s “Hoedown Throwdown.”

The question is, to what extent are these “fitness trends” reliable?

Whether it’s from self-proclaimed “gym gurus,” fitness influencers, or mainstream media, there’s an overwhelming amount of misinformation that needs to be debunked.

To help clear up all the confusion, here are the top four most popular fitness myths you’ve been tricked into believing.

  1. Weights make you bulk

Just because you’re surrounded by meatheads at the gym, doesn’t mean you will look like them.

For a long time, weight lifting was put in the spotlight by bodybuilders and professional athletes who trained to look “big” and “bulky.”

Because of this, the idea that weights make people bulk has become a common misconception in the fitness industry.

Strength training is a vital component of any fitness routine and can even aid weight loss. A UNSW study in Sports Medicine suggests that people can lose around 1.4% of their entire body fat through strength training alone, similar to how much a person might lose through cardio or aerobics.

The results of strength training are based mainly on how it’s incorporated into someone’s lifestyle, with diet and supplementation being the main culprits. 

Especially if you are a woman. 

Women do not produce enough testosterone to grow new muscle tissue to the same degree a man can, which should automatically tell you that lifting weights will not turn you into the Hulk.

2. You can target fat loss

The top trending workout videos on Youtube are often headlined as “workouts to lose inner thigh fat” or “workouts to get rid of belly fat.” 

Spot training is, arguably, the most popular fitness myth in the media today. It gives viewers the notion that fat loss can be targeted in specific areas.

As desirable as that may sound, it’s just not possible.

In order to lose fat, one must burn more calories than they consume, creating a calorie deficit. As a result, the body is forced to use fat as a source of energy.

The places where someone may lose fat are determined by several factors, including genetics, hormones, body type, body composition, and diet. 

While targeting specific body parts during exercise can build muscle in those areas, it cannot help you lose fat in those particular areas. 

3. Carbs make you fat

The biggest diet fads today favor taking a “low-carb” approach for weight loss.

Keto-lovers, step aside. Carbs do NOT make you gain weight. In fact, there is no particular macronutrient that causes weight gain.

Weight gain is caused by eating in a calorie surplus.

Most people get this idea misconstrued and immediately relate carbs with weight gain because carbohydrates are commonly associated with ultra-processed foods like cereal, burgers, pasta, and candy. 

While those foods do all fall into the “carb” category, it is important to note that another group of carbs, known as “complex carbs,” offer a high level of nutrients and are essential for your body to function properly. 

Bottom Line: Any elimination diet leads to eating less. And in order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories.

4. Static stretching is sacred

If you grew up playing intramural sports, I could guarantee that before practice, your coach demanded a “warm-up” that included a variety of static stretches like the “toe reach” or “side lunge.” 

News flash: Static stretching is a major no-no before a workout. 

Not only is static stretching a waste of time, but it weakens your muscles and hinders your overall performance. 

Studies have shown that static stretching decreases muscle strength by 30% and has no measurable effect on injury prevention

Now, you’re probably wondering what you should do as a replacement. 

It is often recommended that people begin a workout with a light jog or dynamic warm-up that includes active movements like high knees and side skips. Doing so will promote blood flow and loosen up the muscles. 

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