9 min read

What Are the Most Common Exercise Misconceptions?

Don’t let these misconceptions hinder your progress.
What Are the Most Common Exercise Misconceptions?
The internet is bursting at the seams with information about how to build muscle, shed fat, and achieve the body composition of your dreams. But not all claims are created equal, so we need to examine them more closely. Countless fitness myths abound, and misinformation lurks behind every corner. In this blog, we’ll debunk some of the more common myths around exercise and nutrition, including:
1. The best way to lose weight is calorie restriction
2. Cardio burns muscle gains
3. You have to break a sweat
4. You can’t weight train without bulking up
5. You need to stretch before you exercise
6. You can target fat loss
7. You can’t exercise after eating
8. No pain, no gain
9. Muscle turns to fat when you stop exercising
10. If you work out, you can eat anything and still lose weight
11. Running is better than walking
12. Exercise machines are better than free weights
Let’s dive in.

12 Most Common Fitness Myths

So, what fitness adages  require some reexamination? Here are 12 myths we need to do away with.

1. The Best Way To Lose Weight Is Calorie Restriction

If you want to weigh less, you need to eat less, right? Well, it’s not necessarily that simple. This is the first myth we want to debunk.
Yes, in some cases, reducing your calorie consumption can lead to weight loss. However, if it were that straightforward, more diets would work. They don’t. In fact, more than two-thirds of dieters gain back more weight than they lose. So, what gives?
Here’s the thing. Restricting calories is actually a lot trickier than most of us think. And when done improperly, you’re sending your body into starvation mode. You’re telling your body, “Hey, I’m not going to give you as much food moving forward.” So, what does your body do? It hangs on to every last calorie like your life depends on it (because it does). The result? Your metabolism slows down and your body stops using as much fuel. Restricting calories can actually have the opposite effect and make you gain weight — or stall your progress.
Many athletes end up surprised to find that when they start eating more calories, they end up losing weight. 
We also need to acknowledge that when we’re talking about “losing weight,” we’re usually referring to fat. Most of us don’t want to lose muscle. In fact, we want more of it. And gaining muscle means gaining mass, which means you’ll likely need to be eating more.
Are calorie restrictions sometimes necessary? Yes. Are they the only way to lose weight? Definitely not.
Man in white shirt High-Knees With Tempo Move

2. Cardio Burns Muscle Gains

We like to simplify things by grouping types of exercise into buckets. Cardio is for burning fat. Strength training is for building muscle. Out of this oversimplification and separation comes another fitness myth — that cardio will reduce your muscle mass.
Overwhelmingly, there’s one main way to lose muscle: Stop strength training. It’s true that if your goal is to build muscle, you likely don’t want to prioritize cardio. There are better ways to do it. However, that doesn’t mean that cardio is a threat to your gains.
In fact, certain types of cardio can contribute to your goals. Look at cycling. Yes, it torches calories and is killer cardio, but it also requires immense lower-body strength. Swimming is largely considered cardio, but take one look at competitive swimmers and you’ll see that this type of cardio can build some serious muscle mass.

3. You Have To Break a Sweat

Sweat is how your body cools itself down to maintain a healthy temperature. When the water in your sweat evaporates, it cools the surface of your skin. But sweating doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a workout in, and working out doesn’t require sweating. If you’re sweating, plain and simple, it means that your body is getting warmer and trying to cool itself down.
We understand that a workout feels a lot more satisfying and effective when you’re drenched in sweat after. But the idea that if you don’t sweat, you didn’t work hard enough, is merely a fitness myth that needs debunking. If you’re weightlifting in a cooler room, you might not sweat. That doesn’t mean you didn’t put in the same amount of effort.
Close up on a woman's face after she completed her exercise

4. You Can’t Weight Train Without Bulking Up

This might be some of the peskiest misinformation floating around. Some individuals in particular are hesitant to weight train out of fear that they will have a bigger, more muscular physique than they would like.
Let's start there. There are certain individuals who have more testosterone and, consequently,  have the ability to get bigger. Other individuals simply do not have the hormones to get that big.
Also, as you gain muscle mass, your body is going to have a harder time hanging on to fat. This is because muscle burns more calories, which is also why your total calorie consumption might need to go up.
So, what you’re often left with when you weight train is a stronger, leaner, more defined physique.

5. You Need To Stretch Before You Exercise

This can be true, but not necessarily. In order to safely and effectively work out, yes, you absolutely need to warm up. However, your warm-up doesn’t automatically need to include stretching. It needs to prepare you for whatever your workout will bring.
For example, a warm-up before you deadlift will look different from a warm-up before a HIIT workout. Preparing for heavy squats won’t be the same as preparing for yoga. Might stretching be included? Yes. Is it mandatory? No. Consider your exact fitness programming for the day and go from there.
Blog Quote: " if you want a leaner core, it certainly won’t hurt to do more core exercises. However, targeted fat loss is nothing but a myth."

6. You Can Target Fat Loss

Wouldn’t that be nice!
This misinformation has you believing that if you want to lose fat in your belly, you can do certain exercises or eat specific foods. We hate to break it to you, but that’s not how fat loss works. Unfortunately, we can’t pick and choose where or how much fat we lose. That’s up to our bodies.
Fat loss is based on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):
➤ How many calories you consume
➤ How active you are
➤ Hormones
➤ Genetics
You can help matters by strengthening any problem areas. For instance, if you want a leaner core, it certainly won’t hurt to do more core exercises. However, targeted fat loss is nothing but a myth.

7. You Can’t Exercise After Eating

This really comes down to personal preference. Most of us will want to wait at least an hour or two for our food to settle before we exercise. However, the timing of your meals has no significant impact on the effectiveness of your workout.
Woman doing bicycle exercise with Tempo Move

8. No Pain, No Gain

Some of us are under the impression that in order for fitness to be effective, it needs to hurt. Yes, exercise can sometimes be uncomfortable. A little discomfort is normal and means that you’re exposing your body to a new stimulus.
However, it shouldn’t hurt. This is important misinformation to debunk because pain is indicative of something more serious. You might be training with an injury, or you’re simply going too hard.

9. Muscle Turns To Fat When You Stop Exercising

Muscle doesn’t turn into fat, and fat doesn’t turn into muscle. They’re two different types of tissue, so this is just a fitness myth. So, what’s going on?
Let’s say you stop doing any resistance training. Eventually, you will lose any muscle you gained. And because you’ve stopped this type of training, your body will more easily hang on to fat. This is a change in body composition, but your muscle didn’t “turn into” fat. This process doesn’t exist, and this is merely misinformation that still floats around the internet.
Man adding weights to barbell

10. If You Work Out, You Can Eat Anything and Still Lose Weight

Have you ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen”? There’s actually some merit to this fitness rule of thumb because what you eat has a huge influence on your body composition goals.
You can’t out-exercise an unhealthy diet. This is nothing but a myth. And getting an extra workout in won’t compensate for poor nutrition. The two go hand in hand. You can strength train and gain muscle, but if you’re overeating or consuming too much of a particular food type, you might still have a significant layer of fat over that muscle.

11. Running Is Better Than Walking

Better… in what way? Running might get your heart rate up more, but walking still offers plenty of benefits. When it comes to the “better” option, we encourage you to ask yourself this question: “What’s my goal?” If you’re trying to get more steps in, both running and walking get the job done. If you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance and walking doesn’t challenge you, then you probably need to be running.

12. Exercise Machines Are Better Than Free Weights

Again, “better” is in the eye of the beholder. Both will give you a good workout when executed properly. There are a few differences, though. Machines offer a fixed nature. They’re more stable and secure. You can typically lift more weight, but it’s in a more controlled environment.
Free weights, on the other hand, require that you provide the stability. Think of it like this: If you’re sitting on a machine and performing an overhead press, that weight is laterally stable. In other words, as you press, it’s not moving side to side — only up and down.
Now, imagine doing an overhead press with a dumbbell in each hand. Not only do you have to fight gravity, but you also have to engage more muscles to prevent the dumbbells from falling to either side. This often translates to more real-life benefits, improved athleticism, and optimal strength development. And it’s why we prefer free weights.
So, with machines, you can often go heavier. With free weights, you can often target more muscles. Both will help you on your fitness journey.
Woman barbell squat with Tempo Studio

Getting Started With Tempo

Now that we’ve debunked some common myths and misinformation about fitness, building muscle, and losing fat, you’re ready to move to the next chapter in your exercise journey.
These days, you don’t need a gym membership to get fit. A smart home gym system like Tempo gives you a challenging fitness experience right in the comfort of your home. We offer a variety of workouts, from HIIT and yoga to prenatal training and low-impact movements. 
Tempo customizes your programming based on your goals. You get a personalized experience complete with in-the-moment feedback, thanks to our 3D Tempo Vision. Under the watchful eye of your trainer, you’ll be taken through your workouts step by step, always safely and efficiently. Track your progress over time. Celebrate every win.
We have two ways to train. Tempo Studio is our most powerful all-in-one solution. Tempo Move is designed to fit anywhere. Both promise to challenge you in new and unique ways. So, what are you waiting for? A healthier, happier you is just a few clicks away. Shop with Tempo today and let’s get moving.


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Why Your Muscles Aren't Sore After a Workout

DOMS is delayed onset muscle soreness and has your muscles feeling tender and sore more than a day after a workout; here's how to assess and treat DOMS.

1.23.20 finding why hero image

Finding Your Why

In our last couple blog posts, we talked a lot about some different physical aspects of fitness. This time, we’re going to talk a bit more about some mental and emotional aspects of fitness—specifically the deceptively complicated principle of goal-setting.

square blog 12/21

How to Improve Body Composition: 3 Things to Know

Learn how to change body composition, or the proportion of lean muscle and fat mass in your body, through strength and weight training for best results.

12.23.20 - Progressive Overload

6 Ways to Beat an Exercise Plateau with Progressive Overload

Learn how to overcome your strength plateaus using progressive overload. Find tips on safe training while increasing your load and making gains.