Much like nutrition, exercise and fitness recommendations continue to evolve as experts learn from new studies. The fitness advice you receive in your high school gym class, or that you read in your favorite magazine 30 years ago, may not be relevant anymore. Here are a few of the fitness myths you have heard — and explanation on why they are more fiction than fact.

1. You can spot train or target fat areas around the body

Our bodies work together utilizing muscles, tendons, bones and more to complete tasks, whether that is weightlifting, running or anything in between. That said, when you lose fat your body is losing the fat ALL AROUND the body. You’ll lose some around the arms, the mid-section, even around the neck and the ankles. But trying to specifically lose fat in areas of the body is unfortunately an ineffective practice. While you can tone up and develop lean muscle in areas you focus upon with weights and exercises, you’ll see more complete changes and results with continued training focusing on all areas of the body.

2. Strictly doing abs will lead to a smaller mid-section

As mentioned in the previous myth, trying to lose belly fat by just doing abs is completely ineffective and focusing on just sit ups is even more ineffective. Our core is our foundation and the center of our body thus most exercises we do requires our core to be strong in order for the exercises to be beneficial. Now, that’s not to say sit ups, planks, leg raises and other core-isolating exercises aren’t beneficial. They are, but in order to lose those inches around the waist we must pair those exercises with other challenging movements. Compound exercises are exercises that incorporate more than one body part. These movements are typically much more taxing than isolated exercises and have proven to be very effective in shedding that hard-to-lose belly fat.

3. Lifting heavy means you’ll get bulky

Now I know we’ve all heard this before, but I really want to emphasize that lifting heavy weights does NOT mean you’ll become as big as the Incredible Hulk. Bulky huge muscles take excessive (and I mean excessive weight training) and dieting, and most of us won’t achieve that without specifically trying and committing to a body-building program. Lifting heavy has tremendous benefits including building lean muscle, increasing intensity of workouts, and progressing past plateaus. Incorporating heavier weights in a program most often leads to positive results and can significantly benefit individuals who implement it. Of course, being safe and progressing gradually is the key.

4. Stretching reduces injury

Static stretching or stretching while still has been commonly utilized as a warm up for all ages, and this practice couldn’t be more backwards. Stretching has its benefits, but to properly and effectively get results it should be done AFTER the workout. Working out raises our core temperature which in turn warms up all of our muscles. Have you ever tried pulling a frozen rubber band? That is essentially what we are doing when we stretch prior to working out. Proper warm-up exercises should be centered around movement. Dynamic stretching is moving and shortening and extending areas of the body and can be a great way to wake the body up and prepare it for activity. Doing exercises that simulate the movement about to be done —such as body weight squats or lunges — are also great examples.

5. Calorie cutting is essential for losing weight

Now we can spend hours on just this topic alone, but in essence eating less food and starving the body can have an adverse effect on your physique. Our bodies are highly efficient, and thus food is used as fuel. If we don’t have enough fuel than our bodies have nothing to use during our workouts. As a result of this deficit, the body will hold onto whatever low amount of calories it does have, and reduce expenditure. We are then not getting the full benefit of our workouts (developing lean muscle), and essentially starving our bodies. We should always eat enough to allow our bodies to endure those tough workouts and use those carbs, proteins and fats for energy and muscle building.

strong>Still have questions about maximizing your workouts or how to start a fitness program? Get on the right track with our Best Start personal training program. You’ll get three private training sessions with one of our certified personal trainers who can answer your questions and help you get started on achieving your fitness goals.

About the Author: Trainer Andy Perez

Certification/Training: NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USAW
Personal Training Since: 2014
Clients who train with me can expect a very positive and encouraging atmosphere. I believe in building on strengths and working hard to eliminate discrepancies (I don’t like the word weaknesses). I’m a very detail-oriented person, so a heavy focus on form is the biggest emphasis of my sessions. Workouts will be challenging, engaging, and purposeful. We’ll build on exercises and make sure each session is centered around your goals and the goals we establish together.
Training Specialties: Strength and Conditioning, weight lifting including power and
compound exercise based programming, corrective exercises, functional training
Classes/Sessions/etc. Currently Teaching: TribeLIFE and All In Conditioning small group sessions