There are a lot of myths about fitness. Many of these myths were once accepted by fitness professionals, but just like any science, exercise science continues to evolve through research and experimentation. In honor of a (belated) April Fools’ Day, let’s look at the most prevailing fitness myths.

Myth #1: Low-Intensity Cardio is the Best Way to Burn Fat

We blame fitness equipment for this myth. Have you ever been on a cardio machine that said you were in the “Fat-Burning Zone”? This (understandably) may lead you to believe that low-intensity exercise is the best way to burn fat. The truth is that the body simply uses more fat for fuel when working at lower intensities. While higher intensity exercise uses more carbohydrate for fuel, you’ll also burn more calories and experience a greater afterburn affect (a heightened metabolism as your body returns to a resting state). Instead of trudging away on the treadmill for hours, trying incorporating HIIT (high-intensity interval training) into your routine. You’ll spend less time in the gym and burn more fat – fast!

P.S. Check out VHP’s HIIT class, Wednesdays @ 6:30 EST.

Myth #2: Targeted Weight Loss is Possible

Unfortunately, you can’t crunch your way to flat abs. In other words, targeting one area of your body to burn fat is not possible. While crunches can strengthen your abs, you can only lose weight in your abdominals by increasing your overall calorie burn and decreasing your calorie intake to lose fat in your entire body. Where you lose weight first will depend on your hormonal balance, genetics, and body type.

Myth #3: You Should Stretch Before Your Workout

Remember how you used to stretch in gym class? You probably held a series of static (stationary) stretches before your weekly dodgeball session. However, research shows that static stretching before exercise can actually hurt your performance. Save static stretching for after your workout, and try warming up with some low-intensity cardio (i.e. walking, biking, calisthenics) and dynamic stretches (i.e. leg swings, arm circles, butt kicks). You’ll have a better workout and feel more energized!

Myth #4: No Pain, No Gain

Results are not reliant on discomfort. Working out should never be painful or uncomfortable, especially if you’re new to exercise. It’s better to find an exercise you enjoy, then gradually increase time and intensity. You’re more likely to stick with a workout program if you enjoy it!

Myth #5: Sweating Will Detoxify Your Body

Have you ever heard the phrase “sweating out toxins”? This claim is often made by hot yoga studios, but the truth is that sweating is one of the least efficient ways to detoxify the body. Sweat is primarily composed of water and tiny bits of carbohydrate, protein, urea, and salt. Approximately 1% of toxins are expelled via sweat, while most of the other 99% are expelled via the kidneys and liver. In other words, going to the bathroom is a much better way to detoxify your body, so stay hydrated!

Myth #6: You Can’t Do High-Intensity Exercise if You Have Sensitive Joints

Knee, hip, and ankle problems can certainly put a cramp (no pun intended) in your workout routine. You may think that you can’t get a great workout with achy joints, but many individuals with joint issues engage in high-intensity workouts like group cycling, boxing, and low-impact boot camp classes to stay fit. Just make sure to check with your doctor before starting and during any program and listen to your body as you increase exercise intensity.

Hint- Check out our Low-Impact Cardio/Strength Fusion class, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:15 am EST!

Myth #7: Lifting Weights Will Make Me Bulky

Ok, Ladies. This myth is for you. One of most prevailing fitness myths is that lifting weights will make you “bulky”. The truth is that women don’t have enough testosterone to gain tons of muscle mass. While it’s true that some women are “bulky”, this look doesn’t come without extreme exercise, a specially-tailored diet, and (at times) medical intervention. So, don’t be afraid to pick up those weights. Weightlifting will help sculpt your body and boost your metabolism!

These are just a few of the many fitness myths that are perpetuated by friends, family, and even some fitness professionals. These myths are likely to remain around for years to come, but we’re here to make sure you don’t play the fool this April!