Fitness Articles

6 Fitness Rules Meant to be Broken

New Takes on Outdated Advice

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We've already debunked some outdated diet rules, but what about fitness? Just as there is plenty of questionable diet and weight-loss advice going around, some exercise "rules" that people live by are downright misleading, misguided or just plain out wrong. Why does it matter? Because you want to make the most of your time in the gym—and stay safe while you do it.

Read on as we debunk six old fitness myths and replace them with new workout rules that will support your body to be its fittest and healthiest!

Old rule: Tone up a specific area of your body by exercising it more.
You know the infomercials and workout DVDs that promise to get rid of those flabby underarms, tighten your hips or turn your stomach into an instant six-pack? Well, they fib. There is absolutely no way for you to selectively reduce fat on a specific area of the body. While you can build muscle in a particular area, you cannot get rid of the fat that way.
New rule: Burn fat for six-pack abs and jiggle-free arms.
Truth be told, you do have a six-pack under that stomach—you just can't see it yet if you have some pounds to lose! So instead of wasting your energy by spot training (think thousands of crunches), focus on using your entire body to burn calories through a mix of weight-training and cardio (and see new rule #3 for a powerful fat-blasting combo!). Also, be sure to eat a healthy, lower calorie diet. It's only through exercise and a proper diet that those strong muscles can be shown off!
Old rule: Do crunches for a strong midsection.
Crunches are by far the most popular exercise for working the abs, but why? Turns out, crunches only target the top part of your abdominals and actually don't improve your core strength that much. And, really, what good is fitness if it can't help you easily do what you need to do in everyday life?
New rule: Get a strong core with functional full-body exercises.
Did you know that abs only make up one part of your core? Yep, the full core is made up your abdominals, obliques, transverse abdominis and erector spinae (low back). Some experts even consider your hips to be part of your core. So when it comes to getting a strong midsection, don't just crunch. Do a variety of planks, side planks, twists, rotations, balance work and more to build functional strength and support your body—no matter what activity you're doing. A strong core keeps your back healthy and resistant to pain and injury, improves posture, allows you to move your body with greater control and helps with balance. Continued ›
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I often see this assurance that women won't bulk up unless they take drugs or spend their lives at the gym. What this does not take into account is genetics. With a few workouts a week with a few hand weight exercises and I have developed the arms and shoulders of a man and I hate it. Unfortunately "there there, Dont worry about it" platitudes are not helpful. - 6/27/2015 8:44:30 AM
  • "Turns out, crunches only target the top part of your abdominals and actually don't improve your core strength that much."

    --- This is an inaccurate statement regarding crunches. There are a variety of crunches that work the various muscles.

    --- I would have thought more of this article if it did not deliberately slant data to serve its message. - 4/23/2015 9:39:59 AM
  • Why is anyone still advocating crunches? They're horrible for your lower back. - 1/22/2015 9:11:45 AM
  • Oh it drives me crazy to see a good article like, "Get the information about out with the old and in with the new", learn that the idea of "tone up specific area...." is old and needs to be replaced with new and then see a side bar article under "related content" that reinforces the old and contradicts the new. The article titled "5 body sculpting short cuts." Come on. Body sculpting is toning up specific areas." - 12/7/2014 9:37:33 PM
    I'm bored with anything touting a "six pak", that has nothing to do with health, but everything to do with vanity, won't make a person "better" or more worthwhile though. Big whoops, when I see someone that has one, it looks as those they have been in a concentration camp! And yes, I have seen people who have been in a concentration camp, relatives........
    ......not a good look. - 9/28/2014 1:43:50 PM
  • Some great reminders, reinforcements and info! I have just started Pilates and feel the benefits of it, but in conjunction with cardio. Makes sense. - 9/27/2014 8:18:55 PM
  • Seems like some folks misread the article about yoga. It's not that it yoga has no weight loss benefits. In fact, the author recommends it! It's simply stated that doing yoga doesn't replace the counterparts of cardio and strength. Yoga is a great part of any exercise program... but you still need to do regular cardio and strength training to ensure complete fitness.

    Try and run a marathon by preparing only with yoga. ;) Doesn't work.

    I am a regular yoga practitioner... and love it. But I still hit the weights and walk/run. - 8/16/2013 5:41:35 PM
  • The thing with "no pain, no gain" is that many of us are so out of touch with our bodies that we have lost the ability to differentiate between pain and discomfort. We live in a fairly narrow temperature band. Few of do true physical labor at our jobs. And many of us only get exercise indoors.

    I sometimes get sharp pains when I first start exercising. They're always transitory. I don't ignore them: I monitor what the pain feels like, if it's a recurring issue, and if it's just a nerve complaining or if it feels like a muscle or connective tissue injury. (At my age, sometime things just randomly hurt for no reason.) If it's an injury, I will re-evalute my plans because I know how long it can take to heal. - 8/16/2013 3:12:36 PM
  • Some good stuff here, but you're off base about yoga and pilates.. These types of exercises not only help prevent injury so that you can have the active lifestyle that is healthy (and burns more calories), but I "grew" about 1 1/2 " the first year I was taking pilates. The muscles themselves might not grow longer, but you do lengthen their range of motion, and all limbs stand straighter when they are supported by the kind of exercise that yoga and pilates provide.

    Though I don't know many yoga practitioners who are in it for the burn, there are strenuous and demanding programs that that burn hundreds calories/hour. - 8/16/2013 1:47:43 PM
    The warning at the end is not nearly strong enough. Blacking out or chestpain are warning signs of potentially very serious problems such as a heart attack. With those symptoms people should not only "slow down" but STOP, sit or lie down, and get immediate medical attention.

    arning_signals.htm - 8/3/2013 10:25:11 AM
  • Yoga can indeed lead to weight loss and a 'leaner look' if you do it daily and mix it up with Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga, both of which are pretty intense forms of exercise. So is interval training.

    Combine these two with cutting out wheat and reducing sugar and carbs from grains if you want to see real change for the long run - providing of course it is a life style change and not a form of dieting. - 6/19/2013 9:26:49 AM
    You should really research yoga a bit more before saying it does not benefit weight loss. The practice does not need to be advanced to burn calories significant for deficit as longas you're doing a sound program. Not to mention in many cases the benefit yoga gives that no traditional fitness program can is balancing hormones which for many is a huge struggle in the weight loss battle. Disappointed in your statements. - 6/19/2013 7:04:17 AM
  • Yoga and pilates are two different types of exercise so why are they being lumped together? Also, what do you mean by more advanced yoga? Asthanga style? Jivamukti? Vinyasa? I think you're selling yoga a bit short by making a blanket statement about it. - 5/12/2013 2:30:06 PM
    There should be a recommend button. Great article! - 4/25/2013 6:51:06 PM
    Best not to make blanket/simplisti
    c statements, i.e. heavy weights do not build bulk (depends on your body type - heavier weights DO build in those with mesomorphic body types. I used to build muscle just from looking at a dumbell.) Also, lying on the couch reading a book burns calories, so to suggest that yoga and pilates don't is a bit misleading, isn't it? I agree with the premise that for MANY people, yoga and pilates should round out their exercise plan, but as a fitness trainer for over 20 years I've found that stressing the body with any form of rigorous movement is adequate for many, and that a yoga and/or pilates-centric workout plan (combined with healthy eating, but that's true with most any exercise plan) is fine. - 3/27/2013 8:25:29 PM

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