The 8 worst fitness tips top trainers have ever heard

The worlds of health and fitness, if you’re to believe the hype, are becoming over-saturated. Everyone and her mother’s a personal trainer these days, right? Gyms are packed with people who read fitness magazines religiously. The guy next to you in the weights section giving tips on your form must know what he’s talking about.

In reality, while it’s great that well-meaning gym-goers are passionately passing on advice, it’s important not to accept all the tips we’re given without hesitation. As with the rest of life, be sure to question the things you’re told by someone you’re not paying an hourly rate to train you. And even in that instance, still question whether what you’re being advised actually feels right for you.

Working in gyms all day, you get to hear some golden (and some not-so-golden) nuggets of advice being banded around. And now, PTs are speaking out. We’ve rounded up the 8 worst pieces of fitness advice that trainers admit they’ve ever heard.

1. “Lifting heavy weights will bulk you up.”

This is a biggie and it’s an idea that refuses to shift. It’s perpetuated by so many who still believe that women in particular shouldn’t lift because it’ll make them too bulky and have people mistaking them for pro bodybuilders. The truth is that building significant muscle density is hard work. It takes a lot of time and sheer dedication. But without that intention in mind, lifting weights can help to strengthen your muscles and their connective tissue, as well as increase your metabolism. Great reasons in themselves, don’t you think?

2. “No pain, no gain.”

We understand the logic behind this piece of advice – push yourself harder, stretch your limits, test your mental boundaries – but in reality, it can be dangerous. While muscles do need to tear and then repair themselves if they’re to grow stronger, the idea that exercise is meant to hurt in order to be beneficial could lead to serious injury. If anything truly hurts, beyond the point of discomfort, that’s your body’s way of telling you to stop and rest. Pushing past that point simply isn’t worth the risk.

3. “Running is the best way to lose weight.”

Yes, running is a fantastic form of cardio exercise that can encourage successful weight loss. But often what happens is we’ll set out on a running regime and not see any progress at all on the scales. This could be because we’re overestimating how many calories we need to consume or we’re not taking into consideration the need to include strength training to boost our metabolism. There’s often more that needs to be considered beyond simply lacing up our running shoes and hoping for the best, and without an overall approach, the results won’t always be what we expect.

4. “If you eat before your workout, you’ll only burn off the food you just ate rather than actual body fat.”

The idea behind this line of thinking is that if you eat before you work out, you’ll distract your body from burning actual fat. Instead, it’ll shift its focus to the food lining your stomach. Well, this is a no-no. While fasted cardio is said to be helpful in targeting stubborn areas of fat, that’s not to say that eating something before you hit the gym will prevent any fat being burnt whatsoever. In fact, eating a small snack 45 minutes to an hour before you exercise can give your body the sugar (and therefore the energy) it needs to see you through a really powerful workout.

5. “The best time to work out is first thing in the morning.”

Incorrect. The best time to work out is whenever it’s best for you. You might not be able to fit in a workout at 7am. That doesn’t mean that your lunchtime run or evening spin class will be any less beneficial. Calories are burnt and muscles are strengthened at any time of the day. The only thing we would advise against is doing high-intensity exercise right before bed; this will release chemicals in the brain that’ll get you fired up and mess with your ability to sleep soundly afterwards.

6. “Not every calorie is created equally.”

This one is heard frequently. The idea is that it’s no longer necessary to count calories as it’s the overall nutritional make-up of foods that’s more important. Yes, we should be looking at what else is in the foods we eat. But having an awareness of your calorie intake is still really helpful. The age-old message applies here. Calories are energy, and if you’re not burning off as much energy as you consume over time, the excess has to go somewhere. Calorie-counting doesn’t have to be restrictive; it can encourage you to gain ownership of your diet and understand more accurately where potential excesses are coming from, which is handy for anyone who’s previously been stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and uncertainty.

7. “Carbs make you fat.”

No one food group is responsible for weight gain. Putting on weight comes down to two things: eating too much and moving too little. The recent trend for low-carb diet programmes means a lot of us are lacking in the energy that’s essential for not only maintaining a solid workout routine, but also just for getting by in day-to-day life. When we think of carbs, it’s tempting to only think of the refined variety –white bread, white pasta, pastries, etc. But this isn’t the full story. While it’s great to cut down on refined carbohydrates, if we cut out carbs altogether, we’re cutting out a lot of the starchy vegetables and wholegrains that give us the bulk of the energy we need.

8. “It worked for me, so it’ll work for you, too.”

At the heart of all this well-meaning (but ultimately unhelpful) advice is the idea that health comes with a one-size-fits-all guarantee. What works for one person must work for another, right? After all, we’re all humans and our bodies don’t differ that much... Except, they do. No one’s body is the same as the next person’s. We all have unique needs that dictate what works best for us in any given situation, whether that be the exercises we do or the foods we eat. Good health is more of a trial-and-error kind of package. You can try out all the pieces of advice you’re given, but ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out what feels good and what gets you the results you want.

What’s the worst fitness advice you’ve ever heard? Let us know in the comments!


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