The Worst Fitness Advice Personal Trainers Give Clients
Fitness experts spill on the worst tips they’ve heard fitness pros dish out. See what tips you should just ignore for a safer, more effective workout
We expect the trainers at our gyms to be the resident experts on all things fitness. But it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes the tips trainers offer are ineffective, and sometimes they can be downright dangerous. Here, experts share the bad advice they've heard trainers give to clients.
Don't Squat Past 90 Degrees
This advice, which is given with the intent of protecting your knees, is actually a large part of why squats get a bad rap for bothering your knees, according to Chris Fox of CrossFit South Brooklyn. "Right at about 90 degrees is when the most sheer force is present at the knee joint and that's not good. A properly performed, full-depth (hip crease below knee) squat provides more stable loading of the knee joint by incorporating the hamstrings, and gets you stronger by utilizing more muscle mass through full range of motion." (Want to practice your squat form? Check out the 6-Minute Super Squat Workout.)
Crunches Will Score You Six-Pack Abs
"Not only is doing hundreds of crunches potentially bad for your back, it also won't get you your six pack. Diet is the most important factor when it comes to achieving those visible abdominal muscles," says Fox. "If you train with compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and presses regularly, then you probably already have well-developed abs. That's because you have to use your abs, obliques, and low back to stabilize and protect your spine and upper body as you do these big movements. Plus, when you get that just-right combo of lifting heavy but still quickly, your heart rate spikes so it can function a bit like high intensity interval training (HIIT). But if you want to see your abs, your body fat must be low, so you'll have to take diet into consideration." (Target deeper muscles to tone and tighten your core from every angle with Michele Olson's Top 3 Moves for Perfectly Toned Abs.)
Women Shouldn't Lift Heavy Weights
"Getting big requires the anabolic hormone testosterone and plenty of excess calories," says Fox. Plus, muscle burns calories. So having strong shoulders, glutes, and quads-those big muscle groups-can actually help you lose weight even when you're not working out. "Lifting heavy weights will help women develop stronger bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, making them stronger overall and less susceptible to injury." (Scorch major calories with Heavy Lifting: Sculpt a Stronger, Leaner, Slimmer Body.)
Do Lots of Cardio to Shed Pounds
"Like achieving a ‘six pack,' diet is the most important part to weight loss," says Noah Abbott, a coach at CrossFit South Brooklyn. "Further, long, slow ‘steady-state' cardio training has been shown to deplete T3, the thyroid hormone that controls metabolism-especially in women. Normal T3 levels allow our bodies and muscles to function efficiently, but too little T3 (hypothyroidism) puts the body in a state where fat is gained more easily, regardless of activity levels. That's why many casual gym-goers can spend lots of time on a treadmill with little or even negative results."
There Is a Single Exercise/Eating Plan That Works for Everyone
"There are many potential paths to fitness, but consistently following a program is what is key. I'd rather have someone walk five times around their block or simply cut out one bad dietary habit out of their lives as long as they do it every day, rather than designing a world-class workout or dietary plan a client follows one day a month," says Abbott. "The best plan or diet is the one that works for your schedule, lifestyle, and personality-and that you can do regularly."
Jump On and Off of a Bosu Ball
Some trainers have clients perform jumps or burpees onto a Bosu Ball. The idea is that you'll work your abs and fire stabilizer muscles all over your body to keep you from falling over, but it's an advanced move that could result in an injury if you're not careful. If you want to try it, ask a trainer or friend to spot you until you feel confident and comfortable. "I once saw a trainer have a client perform jumps to the Bosu Ball. That client tore his ACL," says Fox. (Try this 20-Minute Fat-Burning Kettlebell Workout.)
Push Through the Pain-If You Don't Feel It the Next Day, You Didn't Train Hard Enough
"Your trainer should care about your health," says Gino Caccavale, certified personal trainer, and creator of the Rezist workout. "There is a big difference between soreness and disabling pain. You hire trainers to keep you going, not to stop you from moving!"