Trainers Share the Worst Fitness Advice They've Ever Heard

Fitness professionals explain the silliest things they've heard in the gym

It’s a familiar scenario for many: you’re at the gym when you unintentionally overhear the two nice women on the treadmills next to you discussing the parameters of their exercise routines, or a trainer doling out a piece of fitness advice to their client.

You catch something they say and to yourself think one of two things: “Wait, is that really true?” or “I’m pretty sure that’s definitely wrong.”

The point is, there’s lots of questionable and flat-out false fitness advice floating all around—in the gym, online, on TV, and in magazines.  

“As a fitness professional with almost 20 years of experience, I’ve seen and heard a lot about fitness,” says Maurice D. Williams, a NASM and NSCA certified trainer and the owner of Move Well Fitness. “In my days of training clients, watching people exercise, and exercising myself, there probably has not been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t heard something that made me cringe.”

Yes, there are “fitness tips” so wrong that they can make a trainer cringe, so we decided to find out which are the worst offenders.  

Williams calls this cringe-worthy advice “gym science,” or un-true information that tends to float around in gym conversations.

“Typically speaking, they either have been proven wrong or are not proven at all,” he said.

We asked a few trainers to share the worst advice they’ve ever heard. Straight from the gym floor, here’s what they reported. 

Bad Advice: [Specifc time of day] is the best for working out.

Sarah Bright, a group fitness instructor at Midtown Athletic Club Chicago and co-owner of Bright Fitness, says that while there is some scientific research that shows how certain types of workouts may be more effective at a specific time of day, for most people, the best time to work out is the time that works best. In other words, pick a time that’s most convenient for you. “If you're not a morning person, insisting on a 6 a.m. run is just setting yourself up for failure,” she said. “Alternatively, if you like to go to bed at nine, getting your blood pumping at eight might make it hard to sleep.”

Bad Advice: Don't lift heavy weights, it will "bulk" you up.

Unfortunately this is still a misconception that’s sometimes communicated to women who fear building “too much” muscle as a result of training with heavy weights. “Women aren’t built the same way that men are,” says Minna Herskowitz, a NFPT certified personal trainer and owner of Sandbox Fitness. “Our bodies are different—we don’t have as much testosterone as men.” She explained that unless you use supplements and significantly increase your caloric intake, lifting weights won’t cause you to gain excessive muscle mass. In fact, all women should consider adding some form of resistance training to their overall exercise routine, as it provides several important health benefits.  

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