In our December issue (on newsstands in a week!), we bust ab-training myths, and it got me thinking about all the other fitness falsehoods I overhear a lot. Like when I'm in a class and the instructor says "come on, this should hurt!" (it shouldn't) or "squats blast thigh fat" (nope, but they strengthen your thighs...) Here, trainer Kim Lyons weighs in on these and more workout myths:
You can target specific areas. "Don’t buy into the myth of spot exercising to reduce fat in a particular area," Kim says. "While it’s true that strengthening exercises will target specific muscles — for example, crunches strengthen your abdominal muscles — no exercise can burn fat in a specific area."
Exercise should hurt. Whether you’ve been told “No pain, no gain,” or that you should “feel the burn,” the reality is that exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be effective. "In fact, pushing yourself too hard, too fast will most likely lead to an injury—not a fit physique," Kim says.
If you strength train, you’ll get bulky. "While resistance training helps you maintain your lean muscle mass, building substantial amounts of muscle is very difficult, especially when you’re losing weight," says Kim. "Unless you’re a bodybuilder following a program designed to increase your muscle mass, you won’t bulk up."
There’s a quick fix. "Don’t buy into advertisements that promise certain fitness equipment or activities will get you in shape quickly or with no effort," Kim says. "When it comes to fitness, slow and steady wins the race."
If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want. "While exercise does burn calories, what and how much you eat still matters—a lot," Kim says. "For example, a one-mile walk burns about 100 calories — so you’d have to walk for 12 miles to burn off the typical 1,200-calorie fast-food meal of a hamburger, fries, and a soft drink!"