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When it comes to fitness and the best ways to approach your workouts, it can be tough to tell fact from fiction. To the rescue: We’re taking a look at some of the most common fitness myths and shedding light on what you need to know to get the results you want. 

The myth: Men and women need to work out differently.

The truth: Anyone can work out however they want! For many years, it was thought that if women lifted heavy weights like men they would become bulky and muscly like men. However, with the rise in popularity of workouts like Crossfit and power lifting, it has become clear that women can lift heavy weights without getting a manly physique. The reason: Women have lower testosterone, so it is significantly more difficult for them to achieve as much muscle growth. On the flip side, men can see results from high repetitions with smaller weights just like women can. When it comes to choosing weights, the first thing to consider should not be gender, it should be the type of results you’re looking for. Hoping to build strength and explosiveness or bulk up for a competition? Heavy weights are the way to go. Do you want to tone, lengthen and improve endurance? Reach for small or medium weights instead. 

The myth: You can target your fat burn.

The truth: Your body, not your workout, determines where you burn fat. There are some people who gain weight around their hips and thighs, while others gain in their belly. Still others might show weight gain in their face and arms. Likewise, where people lose weight first is essentially out of their control. It’s true that curls will tone the biceps and planks will work the abdominals, but these exercises will not burn fat from these areas. The proof: In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, subjects completed an exercise program to train just one leg. But at the end, they lost the same amount of fat in each leg and burned even more fat above the waist. The most effective way to burn fat? High intensity, total body exercises that promote muscle burn and challenge the cardiovascular system.

The myth: You need to skip the gym if you’re sick.

The truth: Exercise might help you feel better. If you’re suffering from nasal congestion, a sore throat, a headache or anything else that causes symptoms above the shoulders, a trip to the gym might help you flush out some of what is causing your symptoms. A workout can help clear out congestion, while sweating can help eliminate some of the bacteria causing the infection. If the illness presents below the shoulders, though, like chest congestion or indigestion, it’s probably better to take it easy until you’re feeling better. 

The myth: Walking isn’t a real exercise. 

The truth: It totally is! Walking works the entire body just as effectively as jogging or running. The only difference is intensity, which is completely relative depending on the person and his or her fitness level. If walking is doable and challenging, it will yield just as many fitness gains as running would for someone who needs to pick up the pace to increase their heart rate. 

Have a fitness myth you want busted? Let us know on Instagram @powerforlifefitness!