What Are Common Misconceptions About Fitness?


    What Are Common Misconceptions About Fitness?

    In the realm of fitness, misconceptions can often derail progress, so we've gathered insights from eight industry experts, including Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers, to set the record straight. From the fallacy of spot reduction to the empowering truth that you can start your fitness journey anytime, these professionals debunk the myths that might be holding you back.

    • Spot-Reduction Is a Myth
    • Effort Doesn't Always Equal Results
    • Cardio and Strength Training Are Essential
    • Small Changes Lead to Success
    • Workout Quality Over Duration
    • Lifting Heavy Won't Bulk Women Up
    • Rest and Nutrition Are Key to Fitness
    • Start Your Fitness Journey Anytime

    Spot-Reduction Is a Myth

    Many clients believe that spot-reduction is possible, targeting fat loss in specific areas through exercises. However, as a spa therapist, I often clarify that spot-reduction is a myth. Fat loss occurs uniformly across the body through a combination of consistent exercise, proper nutrition, and an overall calorie deficit.

    Disha Mehta
    Disha MehtaSpa Therapist, Meridian Spa

    Effort Doesn't Always Equal Results

    Doing more effort does not equate to more results. This can be a hot take, but engaging in excessively exertional activities can do more harm than good, especially if your medical profile and age make you unfit for tiring and high-impact activities like cardio. If you partake in physical activities that tire you often, you are less likely to be consistent with them, affecting the sustainability of the exercise in your lifestyle.

    Sarah Bonza
    Sarah BonzaFounder at Bonza Health, Bonza Health

    Cardio and Strength Training Are Essential

    Common misconceptions about exercise plague the health and fitness industry. From not letting your knees pass over your toes during a squat to the never-ending crusade against spot reduction, there are many myths that fitness professionals address with clients on a daily basis.

    The biggest fallacy I deal with in my profession is when clients want to exclusively perform aerobic or resistance training. Many people are under the impression that cardio and strength training are preferences rather than components of overall fitness. If I can help someone understand that cardio increases resistance to fatigue and resistance training increases total capacity, then I've had a great day in the gym. Both are necessary to maintain a high quality of life well into advanced age; however, many people value one but not the other.

    Charles HiltonExercise Physiologist, NGMC

    Small Changes Lead to Success

    A lot of people think attaining better health requires massive, sweeping changes to both diet and exercise routines. In reality, making small and sustainable changes produces the best results. Going from no physical activity to heavy lifting, long runs, or intense interval training is a recipe for disaster. Start small and make eating a healthier diet and some form of exercise a part of everyday life for long-term success.

    Angelo GingerelliNew Jersey State Director, National Strength & Conditioning Association

    Workout Quality Over Duration

    As I work with students, staff, and faculty of all ages, it is common to find people from all walks of life going through different stages of their fitness journey. A common misconception that I come across, especially with those in the beginning phases of their fitness journey, is that longer workouts are better for your fitness. The most important strategies for a productive physical workout have more to do with your form and consistency than with making sure every workout is extremely long.

    Rebeccamae Bowers
    Rebeccamae BowersFitness Instructor (Les Mills) & Business Manager

    Lifting Heavy Won't Bulk Women Up

    The most common misconception I deal with is that women think they have to stick with lighter weights for lots of reps, or else they'll 'hulk out.' There are several factors that prevent women from gaining serious mass: they lack the testosterone production needed, they generally don't consume enough protein or overall calories, and they simply don't train with the amount of volume necessary.

    Building muscle mass is a long and arduous process, especially without using pharmaceutical assistance. It takes consistent and concentrated effort (gym and diet) over a period of several years to gain the type of mass that people consider 'bulky.'

    The upside to lifting appropriately heavy weights is seemingly endless: a more capable body, a boosted metabolism, confidence to know you can persevere through difficult tasks, a new appreciation for your abilities, and a greater willingness to tackle new, exciting risks, and a more positive and resilient mindset, just to name a few.

    Here's my suggested rep scheme for a well-rounded workout:

    Set 1: Start with a warm-up with a weight you can do 15-20 reps with. That's considered 'light.'

    Set 2: Choose a weight that you can't successfully lift for more than 10-12 reps - always with good form. Yes - I'm suggesting you approach 'muscle failure.'

    Set 3: Choose a weight that you cannot successfully lift for more than 8-10 reps.

    Set 4: Choose a weight so you reach failure around 4-6 reps.

    Set 5 (optional): Repeat Set 4.

    For any exercise movement, be sure you can perform it in a safe manner, and use a spotter or safety arms.

    Debra Hammett
    Debra HammettManaging Partner, Serious Results LLC

    Rest and Nutrition Are Key to Fitness

    Common misconceptions about fitness often revolve around the belief that more exercise is always better. In reality, rest and recovery are crucial for muscle growth and overall well-being.

    Another misconception is that cardio is the only way to lose weight, neglecting the importance of strength training in building muscle and boosting metabolism. Additionally, many people think that spot reduction is possible, leading them to focus solely on specific body parts for fat loss. Some also believe that skipping meals can accelerate weight loss, when in fact, it can slow down metabolism and hinder progress. Furthermore, the idea that supplements are more important for fitness success than a balanced diet is misguided. Lastly, the notion that one must spend hours at the gym to see results can discourage beginners from starting their fitness journey.

    It is essential to debunk these misconceptions to promote a holistic approach to fitness that prioritizes commitment, consistency, discipline, and sustainable habits.

    Alex Knowles
    Alex KnowlesPersonal Trainer, AIR3

    Start Your Fitness Journey Anytime

    What I regularly encounter as a common misconception about health and fitness seems to be a common misconception in life in general: the belief that if they're not already fit, they can't start this journey (alternatively, 'I'm not great at X, so why should I even start?'), as though one has to qualify for self-improvement.

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and many of my conversations with clients have been focused on breaking the belief that one needs to already be fit to begin a habit of health and fitness. What would be the point?

    It is understandable that they are intimidated by all the extremely fit people who seem superhuman and have been progressing for years, but the only difference is that they started earlier. They still had to start. The first push-up, the first dumbbell curl, the first morning jog... The illogical belief that one cannot begin something if they aren't already great at it has prevented more potential greatness than it deserves to, and it is important that people come to realize that health and fitness do not care about when you met, but only that you become a familiar face.

    It's never a competition, only a personal relationship that can move at whatever pace you are comfortable with.

    Andrew Brkovic
    Andrew BrkovicFitness Consultant