Debunking five exercise myths

We’ve all heard lots of fitness advice over the years. Tips we wanted to hear and unfortunately lots we didn’t ask for.
But how much of what we hear is really true, even from so-called experts?
Here are five fitness myths that are repeated over and over, but really aren’t true:
* No pain, no gain — This is especially popular with coaches, and can hold some merit. However, just because you’re not keeled over in agony doesn’t mean you’re not helping your body when exercising.
The reality is working doesn’t have to be painful to get results. The truth is that pushing yourself too hard, too fast can backfire and lead to an injury.
* You can target specific areas to lose weight — Although some tummy trimmers on infomercials will try to tell you they’ll help you lose your belly, the truth is that no exercise can burn fat in a specific area. Weight loss — or gain — occurs across the entire body, although some areas show more than others. You can, however, target specific muscles for strengthening.
* To benefit from cardio, you have to do it for a long time — Many people say that you have to get on a treadmill or elliptical machine for a half hour to an hour to get good cardio results. That’s simply not true. You can get a good cardio workout in in as little as 15 minutes if you do interval training or go at a high rate. It’s actually better to train hard for a shorter period of time than to slog along at a slow, easy pace.
* If you lift weights, you’ll bulk up too much — I had a neighbor growing up whose dad wouldn’t let him lift weights because he said, “It will put a crimp in your baseball swing.” Translation: He told his kid he’d get too bulky.
Again, that is simply not true. While strength and resistance training helps you maintain your lean muscle mass, and add some muscle, building substantial amounts of bulk is very difficult.
Unless you’re a bodybuilder following a program designed to increase your muscle mass, odds are you won’t bulk up too much. And even if you are adding muscle, if you are doing proper stretches along the way you should be fine.
* Machines are safer for exercise because you’re doing it right every time — It may seem that an exercise machine automatically puts your body in a correct position to do all the movements right, but that’s only true if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height.
You also need to use proper posture – don’t slouch or lean on a military press machine for instance.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at

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