Fitness Advice That Doesn't Work

  • Bad Advice: Crunches Are The Best Way To Burn Belly Fat

    The reality: “Crunches cause your abdominal muscles to contract, which will increase their strength and endurance, [but] crunches burn very few calories,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose just 1 pound of fat, and doing 50 or more crunches won’t even come close to burning that much. A better workout tip: “A flat abdominal area with little fat covering the muscles requires a combined effort from an appropriate diet and other calorie-burning workout activities like jogging or spinning classes,” Olson says. The takeaway? Combine cardio with ab-strengthening exercises and a healthy diet, and you’ll have a flat belly in no time.

  • Bad Advice: A Long Treadmill Run Is The Best Workout

    The reality: Variety is the mark of a good workout, not hours spent doing the same thing. “Mix it up, even in the same workout,” says Michael Maina, Ph.D., an associate professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. “Spend five minutes on the treadmill, five minutes on the stair climber, and five minutes on a rowing machine.” A varied workout is more motivating, and you’ll gain extra benefits by changing up the muscle groups you’re working.

  • Bad Advice: Working Out In Extreme Heat Burns More Calories And Fat

    The reality: Hot stretching might be all the rage, but that doesn’t mean these workouts are high-octane calorie burners. “You will burn the same number of calories doing a series of sun salutations or other stretching moves regardless of the temperature of your environment,” Olson says. “Fitness and calorie expenditure come from moving your body weight against gravity. The resistance from gravity does not change the intensity of your workout when temperatures change.”

  • Bad Advice: All You Need For A Complete Exercise Program Is Cardio And Weights

    The reality: “Fitness is actually measured in five dimensions: strength, speed, agility, endurance, and flexibility,” says certified personal trainer Amanda L. Ebner, MA, MEd, a FitOrbit.com Top 10 Trainer. “If you focus only on the old-fashioned cardio-and-weights duality, you will miss out on some amazing workout alternatives, such as power lifting (strength), high-intensity interval training (speed), team sports (agility), marathon/triathlon training (endurance), and stretching (flexibility).” Among her tips: Try to identify the areas of fitness in which you are weakest and take up a workout activity targeted at building those missing skills. Flickr photo by sportsandsocial

  • Bad Advice: Weight Machines Prevent Injuries Better Than Free Weights

    The reality: “Weight machines are generally designed based on the dimensions of the average-sized male, which can place your knees, back, and shoulders into positions where muscles are not pulling at the proper angle,” Olson says. “This can harm your joints.” She adds that one advantage of using free weights for the strength-training portion of your workout is that you can lift, press, and curl them with your natural range of motion. Another tip: “Free weights also engage more of your spine-supporting core muscles and help improve balance, preventing common lifestyle muscle pulls, joint strain and falls,” she says.

  • Bad Advice: No Pain, No Gain

    The reality: No reliable fitness tip should advocate true pain as part of workout success. “There is a difference between being a little sore and being injured,” Maina says. “You should feel a slight fatigue or mild discomfort following a good workout, but you shouldn’t feel so sore that it affects your daily functioning.” Flickr photo by lululemon athletica

  • Bad Advice: Static Stretching Will Always Prevent Injuries

    The reality: “Stretching cold muscles, tendons and ligaments can actually harm them since they are relatively stiff to begin with,” Olson says. “Instead, warm up your muscles at the beginning of a workout by doing dynamic movements, such as walking briskly for five minutes, performing half-squats with just your body weight, and marching with high knees. These activities will increase circulation of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and literally warm them — increase their metabolism, which produces heat. Save static stretching for the cooldown part of your workout, when your muscles are very warm and extensible.”

  • Bad Advice: It’s Possible To Create Longer Muscles Without Bulk

    The reality: “Muscle length is fixed once we reach our adult height,” Olson says. “However, Pilates and dancer-style workouts often emphasize various posture factors, such as keeping your neck long, your upper body lifted, and your spine lengthened.” Learning how to hold your body and conditioning the muscles that support a “stand tall” mantra may make you appear slimmer and more elongated. “But these workouts don’t actually cause your muscles to grow or increase in true length,” Olson says.

  • Bad Advice: The Elliptical Machine Is Just Like Running — Without The Stress On Your Joints

    The reality: “True, the elliptical machine can minimize some of the jarring impact of running on knees and ankles, but the angle of the incline can also put your hips at risk if you have hip replacements or injuries,” Ebner says. “If you have hip issues, walking and cycling are better cardiovascular workout choices.” An additional tip for fans of elliptical machines: Because they minimize lower-body impact, they don’t build bone density the way running or jogging can, Ebner emphasizes.

  • Bad Advice: More Protein And Fewer Carbs Equal Lean Muscle

    The reality: When you’re working out hard, you need those carbs to keep you going. “Going low on carbs will rob your muscles and vital body organs such as your heart and kidneys (which are also composed of muscle tissue) from the energy they need to contract and prevent the muscle beds from being broken down, which happens in people who eat low-carb diets,” Olson says. She adds that people who exercise regularly need only about 6 to 8 ounces of protein a day, which most adults get without even trying: “If you are an avid exerciser, you can get enough daily protein in just two medium grilled chicken breasts and one glass of low-fat milk.” Flickr photo by Andrea_Nguyen

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  1. Reply

    Fitness Tips? My fiance and i are getting married in August and although we are both very healthy and look after ourselves, we both want to look our best for the wedding. we usually go cycling but the weather is really awful at the moment and the local gym is rubbish. does anyone have any excersize tips that we can do at home? aside from the obvious of course *wink*

      • HealthNut
      • July 29, 2012

      Here is an at-home routine that you can do for a total body and great cardio workout. Hope you like it.

      RUN IN PLACE – kick heels up to buttocks



      BACK LEG LIFTS – keeping the hips forward lift your left leg back – it’s a small movement so don’t arch your back to lift very high – do one side for half the amount of time and then switch

      HEEL DIGS – press heel out in front of you and hop to switch feet

      SIDE LEG RAISES – standing lift your left leg out to the side and lead with the heel (don’t turn your toe up) and also don’t lean over sideways as you do this – half the time and then switch sides

      BURPEES – standing place hands on floor and jump feet back into pushup position and then jump feet back towards hands and stand up (that completes one burpee)

      PLIE SQUAT – stand with your feet wider than should length apart and your toes turned out at a 45 degree angle, squat down and using your inner thighs press yourself back up

      SPEED SKATER – leap to the right bring left leg slightly behind you and you reach towards the floor and then leap to the left bringing right leg slightly behind while reach towards the floor

      PUSHUPS – can do against a wall or on the floor on your toes or knees

      CROSS COUNTRY SKI – stand with legs together and jump up landing with right leg in front and left leg back then jump again switching feet in the air

      BICEP CURLS – curl with weights (or whatever else you can use such as soup cans, water bottles, resistance bands) be sure not to lock out the elbow and curl for the full range of motion

      DOWNHILL SKI – feet together jump to right and then the left and stay low in a little bit of a squat position

      TRICEP PUSHUP – lay on your left side with your left hand on your right side and place your right hand on the floor infront of you, now press yourself up with your right hand – half the time and then switch sides

      HIGH KNEES – run in place brining knees into the chest as much as you can

      BACK ROW – using weights hinge forward at the hips so you are slightly bent over and knees slightly bent, let the weights hang down with palms facing each other than pull the elbows up keeping them close to the body and bring the weights up as high as you can and then lower

      SQUAT THRUST – kinda like a burpee but when you come up jump

      SHOULDER RAISE – with weights stand with elbows out at shoulder height then press weights up over head and lower to shoulder height (don’t go below shoulder height)

      POWER JACKS – like a jumping jack but when your feet go wide go down into a squat and when jumping back with feet together do two hops

      LOWER ABS – laying stomach place your hands infront of you forming a triangle, lift your hips up so you are on your toes and elbows (don’t lift your hips too high though – you should be in a straight line and abs pulled up in towards your spine) alternate touching your knees to the floor, but don’t let them rest – they should just barley touch

      JUMP ROPE – real or pretend

      OBLIQUES – on your back with feet on the floor and hands behind the head crunch up and twist left elbow to right knee – half the amount of time and then switch sides

      SQUAT JUMPS – in a squat position jump up and land in squat position

      UPPER ABS – on your back with feet planted on floor lift your hips up and have hands behind head – keeping your hips up off the floor do a crunch

      QUICK FEET – standing with feet wide run in place as fast as you can (think football)

      FRONT LUNGES – lunge forward with the left foot, staying in this position lower yourself and then press back up – half the amount of time and then switch sides

      SQUAT W/ FRONT KICK – feet close together squat and come up and kick with the left then squat again and come up and kick the right and keep alternating

      STEP TOUCH – stay low with knees bent and step to the left bringing feet together and then step to the right, while doing so have your arms extending out to the sides with each step

      SHUFFLE W/ KNEE – shuffle three times to the left and on the third one lift your right knee and then shuffle three times to the right lifting your left knee on the third one

      MARCH – march in place to cool down

      do each move one after the other without a rest in-between and you’ll get an excellent interval workout – If you want a longer workout walk in place 3-5 minutes and then do the whole circuit again.

  2. Reply

    Fitness Tips…? Well, Im 16 and weigh 306 pounds at about six feet in height. I just started Varsity Football for my school. Well, my coach told me that he will prefer me at a weight of 280 by about July. I just wanted any and all tips that someone can think of that will hep me with my goal and increase my football skills. Hopefullly, improving my speed, explosion, agility, strength, etc,. Is this goal attainable and what do you reccomend I do?

      • HealthNut
      • July 29, 2012


      I’ve tried so many different diets in the last 10 years that I can say now, they don’t work!
      A few months ago, I came across a great product for weight loss (it’s actually a colon cleanse) and like many others I was skeptical about it. But I really wanted to lose weight and I tried it (it’s 100% natural). The results were excellent. I lost about 20 pounds in 2 months with this detox. That’s why I recommend you check this product at http://www.thin-quick.us where they have a free trial and you only pay $4.95 shipping and handling.
      Good luck!

  3. Reply

    What Are Some Good Fitness Tips? I have been trying to lose weight for a couple months now and has been stuck at one weight. Do anyone have any fitness tips and also eating tips for me?

      • HealthNut
      • July 29, 2012

      80% of weight loss is diet.
      You can eat a healthy diet and lose weight.
      You can eat a healthy diet and exercise and lose more weight.
      You can exercise and eat a poor diet and not lose and even gain weight.
      A good healthy diet high in fiber, lean meats, eggs, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, antioxidant foods, healthy beverages and low in added sugar and salt help people lose weight, lower cholesterol, increase energy, improve brain function, lower blood pressure, reduce cancer risk and have a more positive lifestyle!
      You need to eat a lot more food and a lot more fiber!
      Diets that exclude foods from any food group are fad diets and do not lead to permanent weight loss or solve any other health issues.
      First, try to kick your fiber intake to 40 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
      Whatever you do, get your fiber from your food, not from a jar.
      Fruits and vegetables have good fiber in them. A high fiber diet increases the metabolism.
      Try a breakfast cereal with at least 20% of recommended daily allowance of fiber in it. They are usually low in sugar so there is a double benefit. Blueberries or raspberries on top add more fiber and antioxidants. But fresh or frozen, not the kind in syrup. Oatmeal with berries or a bit of fresh honey is also good.
      Raw nuts are a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Avocados are the best.
      Lots of beans, peas, and grains are high fiber. Whole grain breads. Fiber kicks up the metabolism so you actually burn more calories. These foods will give you more gas in the beginning but if eaten daily, the bacteria in the digestive tract will elevate lowering the gas output.
      This will get you on the path for a healthy daily bowel movement. This helps clean the system and aids healthy digestion.
      I know it goes against everything you’ve heard but eating lots of the right foods will actually help you lose weight!
      Next, take an age appropriate basic daily multivitamin. Don’t look at your multivitamin as nutrition but more as an insurance policy. Think of it as filling in the gaps in your daily diet as opposed to a primary source of nutrients.
      You have to drink lots of water to be healthy. But you can disguise it. Fill your glass all the way full with ice before pouring low sugar beverages. Try iced green tea with a splash of orange juice in it for sweet. More antioxidants. Add lemon juice to water for flavor. Slice up a cucumber and float it in pitcher of water. Gives it salty fresh taste. But you must drink up to 100 oz of water daily to help your body get rid of waste and the natural toxins.
      Last, you need to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep depending on your age. All recent sleep studies report a connection between poor sleep patterns and weight gain. This includes going to bed as close to the same time every night including weekends. Most of us stay up late Friday and Saturday night and it throws us off.
      You must combine a healthy diet with exercise to multiply the benefit. Whether an hour a day in the weight room or just a 30 minute brisk walk every day, the added benefit of a regular exercise program really do increase and accelerate healthy weight loss.

      I lost 30 pounds in 5 months by spending my money at the grocery and gym and have kept it off for over two years. Less than 3% of people that attempt weight loss lose it and keep it off for two years. It is not easy. It is a lifestyle change.
      Good luck and good health.

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