The world of fitness can be a confusing maze to get around for beginners. Contradictory information exists at every corner and most people are left alone to separate the fact from fiction. Oftentimes, as long as something gets repeated enough times most people won’t really question whether it’s really true or not.

This is a big mistake because following the wrong advice will ultimately end up hurting your efforts towards attaining your dream body.

We hope this list helps correct misguided beliefs and encourages you to begin questioning conventional wisdom. It’ll be especially useful for beginners and the general population who aren’t hardcore fitness addicts.

So without further ado, click the arrow to begin debunking some of the most common fitness myths!

Myth #1 Spot Reduction

Common sense tells the average person that if you want to lose fat from specific part of your body you do exercises which target that area. So if you want to burn fat off your belly you do ab exercises, if you want to lose those love handles you focus on your obliques, and so on….

This unfortunately isn’t how reality works. Spot reduction (forcing your body to lose fat only from a specific area) just isn’t possible.

For the most part, your will burn fat evenly over your body and depending on your hormones at different rates for different areas. Men for example, usually have stubborn belly fat that likes to stick around even if the rest of their body is lean. Women on the other hand usually store fat in their legs and arms. Ultimately, your hormonal balance is what will determine where your body loses fat first.

Myth #2 Since fruits are healthy you can eat as many as you want

Not exactly.

Fruits ARE healthy for you but some are also high in sugar and simple carbs which make them a little less than ideal for weight loss. Even though most are filled with a variety of helpful nutrients, going overboard and eating banana after banana will make burning fat harder.

Of course if your goal is to gain weight then you won’t be as lenient but for everyone out there trying to shed some pounds, go for fruits with a higher water content like grapes and berries. These often have less sugar and are more ideal for weight loss.

Myth #3 Women Will Bulk Up If They Lift Weights

As we’ve said plenty of times before: The principles of fitness are the same for both men and women.

The only difference is your end goal which means the genders will focus on different exercises to maximize their sex appeal. Lift heavy weights (relative to your strength) and do some form of cardio 2-3 times per week while eating enough food and of the right kind. You won’t get bulky. You won’t look like a man. This is how everyone builds a more attractive physique. You don’t even have enough testosterone to be able to easily put on muscle. It’s already hard enough for most guys and you’re working with less. Read this article for a more in depth look at this myth if you’re interested.

fit woman
Not going to happen.

Myth #4 You can “tone” muscles

It’s become cliche by now…. Women want to get toned, men want to get big….

We’ve already tackled the whole toning issue so read up on that if you want to know the truth to REALLY getting toned but to put it shortly here:

You can only build or lose muscle and/or gain or burn fat. Period. Toning (the way most people use it)n refers to having a moderate amount of muscular definition while still being at a low level of body fat. You cannot “tone” a muscle to change its shape or make it longer. That’s determined by your genetics and there’s little you can do to change your natural muscle inserts. Either build muscle or lose fat. That’s all there is to toning.

Myth #5 To get abs all you need are crunches

Believe it or not, doing crunch after crunch won’t do much if anything to help you get those 6 pack abs. There are better ways of developing your core strength (and thus making those abs pop) then doing 100+ crunches. Most compound exercises like squats and deadlifts naturally build up your core and other body weight exercises like planks are much more effective at targeting those muscles than crunches.

But unless you have your diet in check none of that will matter. Abs are made in the kitchen and 80% of your results will come as a result of eating a proper diet and keeping slim. It doesn’t matter how much you work them if you aren’t at a low enough body fat percentage (<12%) you won’t get a chance to see them.

Myth #6 Stretch before a workout to prevent injury

This myth is actually only partially true. Stretching CAN help prevent injury and help you warm up before a workout but only if you do the right kind.

Conventional wisdom tells us to strike a pose and reach for our toes to help loosen up muscles. This form of stretching called static stretching is the bad kind. A growing number of studies have shown that static stretching actually decreases physical performance. Sprinters run less quickly, jumpers jump less less height, and lifters lift less weight. And yeah, it pretty much does nothing to reduce the chance of injury.

Now the other form called dynamic stretching is the good kind. When you do dynamic stretches, you aren’t holding a position but are actively moving the muscles you’ll be using in your workout. Jumping jacks, high leg jumps, arm circles and other forms of stretching that involve motion help rush blood to your muscles and and will properly prepare you for a workout.

Myth #7 Fats will make you fat

Old school nutrition advice from decades ago blamed fats as being responsible for our expanding waistlines. The misconception that eating fats will make you fat has been debunked but unfortunately they’re still commonly associated with weight gain. If you need any evidence that people still demonize fats take a walk through your local supermarket and look at the number of products labeled “low-fat” in bold letters as a selling point trying to attract dieters.

The wording is probably what confuses people the most. If you’re eating something called “fat” it must be what’s actually making you fat, right? But it’s actually carbs which are the biggest problem for people not fats. Fats especially unsaturated fats actually help you lose weight and keep you full.  If you want a better understanding of why fats aren’t actually making you fat read up on these two nutritional guides we made (1, 2).

Myth #8 Squats are Bad for your Knees

Squats CAN be bad for your knees…. if you do them the wrong way. With proper form, squats are one of the best if not the best full body compound exercises.

Watch the video below and learn proper squatting form before actually attempting the exercise yourself.

Also while we’re at it here’s another squatting myth that needs to die: going all the way down (“deep squatting”) is the worst type. Wrong! It actually might be the best since unlike parallel squats it better activates your glutes and hamstrings creating more stability and placing less pressure on the knees to do all the lifting themselves.

If you’re still concerned about safety look it’s worth looking into specialized equipment like knee wraps and squatting shoes which can also help prevent injury and improve your form.

Myth #9 Being fit requires a serious time commitment

This is a myth that stops a lot of people from even starting their journey to attaining a better body.

“I just don’t have the time.”

Most people DO have the time. Getting and staying fit takes much less time than the average beginner imagines. If you’re spending >10 hours per week in the gym… it’s very likely you’re wasting time. A good, efficient workout wouldn’t take any longer than an hour or so. That’s assuming you aren’t talking/texting/posing for pictures in between sets and doing other time wasters.

You also don’t have to workout everyday. More workouts =/= better results. If you’re actually pushing your body you’d need the rest anyways because muscles need time to recover. You can’t workout every day and grow. They grow while you rest.

4-5 hours a week is all you need to maintain a fit body. Most of your results will come from diet anyways so as long as you have that in check and you put in your 4-5 hours — you’re going to see serious improvements in the way you look.

Myth #10 A lot of Exercise Can Make Up For A Poor Diet

It’s easy to overeat. It’s hard to cut calories through exercise alone. Most people underestimate the amount of calories they eat and overestimate the amount of calories they burn while exercising.

It’s much easier to eat 2 slices of pizza (about 550 calories) than it is to run 4-5 miles (which would burn off those two slices if you ran at a moderate pace).

This is why you can’t rely on exercise alone especially if you’re trying to lose weight. 80% of your results with weight loss will come from your diet. Exercise is a compliment meant to encourage your body to burn fat and preserve and/or increase muscle tone. You’re fighting an uphill battle if you’re expecting to just burn off that meal you know you shouldn’t have had.

Liked this article? Check out 10 more fitness myths here.