Fact, Fiction or Fickle: Fitness Myths

We ask local fitness experts if these myths are fact, fiction or fickle.

 This week, we tackle myths surrounding fitness. Check back next week when we wrap up our myth-busting guide with mental wellness myths.


Experts: Aaron Day, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor


Denise Chakoian, Owner and fitness professional at Core Studios, Providence and Pawtucket.

Myth: Women should avoid lifting weights if they don’t want to “bulk up.”


There is only one way you will ever bulk up, and that is by consuming more calories than you exert during the day (try keeping track of your daily intake with a phone app). Whether it is to lose body fat, increase strength, or achieve a more toned physique, weightlifting will only bring you closer to your goals. Strength training also increases your metabolism, which helps burn more fat compared to if you did not lift weights at all.

Myth: You should stretch both before and after you exercise.


It is important that you know how and when to stretch. Before working out, a five to ten minute dynamic warm up will help physical performance, increase mobility and can help prevent injury. This type of “stretching” takes the muscles through a full range of motion at an extremely fast rate. For example, jumping jacks, butt kicks, or power skips would be great exercises to do before your workout. After working out is a more effective time to incorporate static stretching, where the goal is to lengthen your muscles, typically done for thirty seconds each. It’s important to stretch whatever muscle group was trained that day. For example, if you did a core workout, an Upward Facing Dog position would be a phenomenal stretch for your abdominals. You do not want to statically stretch a muscle before working out, as this will decrease your power output. You will not be as strong or explosive because this type of stretching relaxes the muscle.

Myth: You should work out every day — the more the better!


Even professional athletes have scheduled rest days in their training programs. When you are working out, you are actually breaking the muscle fibers down. The only way your body can fully recuperate is through proper nutrition and rest. I always have my clients take one or two rest days per week. If you find that you are extra tired during the day, getting sick, having increased hunger, mood swings or experiencing insomnia, your body may be telling you that you are over training — it is best to take a minimum of two days off.

Myth: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn.


Sweating is simply the way your body regulates its core temperature. When you sweat, your body is trying to cool down, and all you are actually losing is water weight and minerals. There are many studies in which some participants wore sweat suits during cardio while others wore t-shirts and shorts and the results showed no extra calories were burned in either group.

Myth: You should drink beverages filled with electrolytes (like Gatorade) instead of water while exercising.


While exercising, the best form of hydration is usually water. To go even further, room temperature water gets into the muscles faster than cold water (that swooshing feeling that people get in their stomach while exercising after drinking cold water is typically the water not digesting into the muscles).

Myth: Spinning is a better workout than running.


These are two completely different modalities of exercise. Spinning (or cycling classes), typically creates less impact on the joints and can be a great form of cardiovascular exercise for all levels. Many people that can no longer run use cycling as a form of exercise, as it can be just as intense but with less pounding on the joints. Running is a great form of exercise if done properly and not done excessively. Some body types struggle with running more than others, so this is truly based on the body’s makeup and movement pattern. Strength training with both of these modalities is very important.

Myth: Running indoors on a treadmill is easier on your joints than running outside on a trail or around the neighborhood.


Most people think that treadmill running is better than outdoor running, however, studies have shown that natural impact on pavement or soft surface trails is better for the body than the repetitive belt moving on a treadmill. Many people on a treadmill tend to go faster, and proper form can sometimes be compromised, which results in back pain and tight hip flexors.

Myth: Crunches should be your go-to exercise if you want a flat stomach.


Crunches should not be your go-to. To achieve a flat stomach, certain things need to be taken into account; 1. Diet, 2. Core exercises that target the entire abdomen such as transverse movements and isolated plank type exercises, and 3. Any previous surgeries or injuries that may affect this goal.