Top 10 Exercise Myths & Misconceptions

From From 1946-52, The RJ REYNOLDS Tobacco Company’s marketing of Camel cigarettes in the US centred on the slogan: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”. Reynolds advertised the “actual fact” that Camel was the most smoked cigarette among US doctors, citing surveys by “three leading independent research organizations,” which surveyed 113,597 doctors “from every branch of medicine”.

In reality, the “independent research” was conducted by RJ Reynolds’s advertising agency, whose employees surveyed most doctors about their preferred cigarette brand just after gifting them complimentary cartons of Camels!


Clearly, science and society have come a long way since 1946. Smoking is now recognised as the leading cause of death in the US and fewer than 4% of physicians in the United States now smoke.

But, in an age where social media permits anyone to post almost anything, how can you know what is fact and what is fiction?

This article aims to dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions I have come across in conducting over 150 1-1 Fitness Consultations in the last few years so that you can avoid them…


Myth 1 - No Pain, No Gain

“You only regret the workout you miss” is a stupid comment.

Yes, to get stronger you will have to push limits and overload your muscles.

But insufficient rest and too much HIIT training, for example, will not let your body recover. When commenting on the 2010 World Championships, cyclist Mark Cavendish said “The hard work is easy, but it takes courage to rest. In an era when everyone thinks that more and harder is better, few are brave enough to step back, to tell friends “I’m taking it easy today”.

When in doubt, rest.

Myth 2 - Fasted Training Burns More Fat

You will not burn more fat training on an empty stomach.

Fasted cardio has been speculated to burn more fat. But research into the effect of fasted and fed aerobic exercise has revealed trivial to small effect sizes on body mass. The effect of exercise is more likely to be enhanced through creating a meaningful calorie deficit over a period of time, rather than exercising in fasted or fed states

Myth 3 - You Can Out-Train a Bad Diet

You are what you eat.

Even if you burn 12,000 calories a day training like Michael Phelps, the quality of the nutrients you put in your body matter. Not all calories are created equal.

Myth 4 - You Need Supplements

You may want to add processed nutrients to your diet but many of us do not need to.

Yes, you need more protein to build muscle size and strength. But most of us can get what we need from food. A healthy balanced diet should give most of the vitamins and minerals you need.


Myth 5 - Exercise Is Just for the Body

Your brain is a muscle.

 Just like other muscles in the body, it adapts to the demands placed on it. The evidence on neuroplasticity – our brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections – is growing. Meditation has been shown to change how it functions.

Myth 6 - You Can Choose Where to Burn Fat

You cannot choose where you burn fat.

Crunches and sit-ups are not the most effective move for torching tummy fat. Everyone is different, and fat will drop off different people in different places.

Myth 7 - Split Muscle Groups for Maximum Gains

You do not always need to split muscle groups for maximum results.

Imagine you have 3 dedicated training sessions a week. Depending on the days you train, you might get better results making each session ‘full-body’. If you train different muscle groups in each session (e.g. Chest & Back on Wednesday) then you effectively give those muscles 6 days rest. If it only takes 1-2 days to recover that means 4-5 days of missed opportunity.


Myth 8 - You Need Loads of Time

You do not need long dedicated sessions to improve your health.

“I am too busy” is the number 1 excuse we give ourselves. And even if you don’t have much time, small activities (e.g. walking, gardening, cleaning) can make a big impact.

Myth 9 - Stretching & Foam Rolling Before Exercise Prevent Injury

You need to warm-up before exercise to prevent injury.

Warming up, which involves raising the heart rate and literally heating up your body temperature, is not to be confused with stretching. Stretching is beneficial for different reasons and is unlikely to do damage, but should not ever be a substitute for warming up.

Myth 10 - You Can Shortcut to Success

You cannot.

Sure, you can get liposuction or try an extreme 6 week training plan, but we all know the truth; there is no shortcut to success.

Nor should there be.

You only value what you invest in. The price you pay in sweat working out and resilience shown refraining from food is all part of it.

Enjoy the journey.


As always, these exercise myths just scratch the surface. There are tons of other commonly held beliefs about exercise that are questionable, if not completely false.

If you want to talk about any of these myths or book Chris for a workshop at your work, don’t hesitate to contact Chris – –