Gym Myths To Stop Believing Immediately

Working out is hard enough without these unhelpful pieces of locker room 'wisdom' distracting you from what actually works

By: Tom Ward

Two women talking in gym

We’ve all heard our share of well-worn gym myths. And deep down, maybe we suspect they’re all a load of old rubbish.

Will weight training make you uncomfortably swole if you’re a woman? Do men really not need to stretch? And do you need to eat a whole cow right this second (or, ever)?

Our experts puncture all this hot air so that you can focus on the stuff that actually works.

Gym life

Everyone is looking and laughing at me

“Everyone starts somewhere. If someone ever does laugh at you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. When I first started training, someone laughed at me. I always think about the saying ‘He who laughs last, laughs longest’." – Robert Utley, founder, Real Body Performance

I'm not fit enough to do [insert gym]'s classes yet

 “A lot of gyms and trainers will be able to advise, adapt and scale the class and exercises to make sure that it is effective and safe for the participants. Everyone's fitness journey starts somewhere and there is a 100 per cent chance that someone in the class that you're thinking about going to was once thinking the same thing.” – James Dollah, head coach at Puresport

No pain, no gain, broseph

“You do not need to beast yourself every single workout. Fitness should be fun and enjoyable and should show you what you are capable of.” – Nat Voyle, strength and conditioning coach at VAHA

I’m too inflexible to do yoga 

“That’s the whole reason you’re here!” – Chatty Dobson, yoga teacher and owner of FLEX Chelsea

I don’t have enough time to work out

 “If you have a plan in place, your workout doesn’t need to take hours. For a strength session, you need to train the seven main muscle groups in the body and ideally you need to repeat the exercise three times, for between 6-12 reps. I can take a client through a whole body workout in 45 mins, including warm-up and stretching. It just means less time looking in the mirror.” – Rachel Lines PT and nutritional expert

Running is all about the legs 

“Your core muscles are your stabilising force when you run. They play a big role in keeping you upright and stable during runs and sprints. And the better your core muscles function, the longer you’ll be able to maintain an optimal running style.” –David Wiener, training specialist at lifestyle coaching app Freeletics

Men don’t need to stretch, bruv 

“Too often, males are focused on building size and strength, without paying attention to their mobility and flexibility. Ninety per cent of injuries will typically occur due to a lack of these two things. Plan one to two mobility sessions into your weekly training regime – you won’t regret it.” – Tom Cuff-Burnett, PT and movement specialist @tomcuffb_fitness

Getting swole 

Lifting weights makes women bulky

“Whenever I recommend strength training to my female clients, this will be their response 80 per cent of the time. But applied in the right way, and accompanied by the right nutritional advice, weight training can dramatically alter and improve a woman’s figure, not to mention provide a host of other benefits, such as increased bone density, higher basal metabolic rate and improved heart health.” – Tom Cuff-Burnett

You need to be almost throwing up for a workout to be effective

“This is a big myth! Sometimes less is more. Quality over quantity when it comes to workouts.” – Tash Lankester, PT at FLEX Chelsea 

Lifting heavy is all that matters, son

“While progressive overload is the overriding principle when it comes to strength and hypertrophy, this doesn’t have to be about adding another 5kg or 10kg to your lift, especially if your movement quality and form breaks down. Put simply, lifting something with better form than before is still progress.” – Ollie Weguelin, director at Sustain Performance

Having time off will ruin my progress, bro

“Having time off being ‘on plan’ will not ruin your progress. I work on the ‘more often than not’ principle. As long as I’m sticking to my plan more often than not, I will progress towards my goal.” – Robert Utley

 Man and woman celebrating in gym

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Eating right 

I need a protein shake NOW

“You see the guys in the gym that chug a protein shake as soon as they finish a set? You don’t need to eat within half an hour – or whatever arbitrary number – after a workout. We generally say have a decent meal within two hours of your gym session. You don’t need to run out to your car for a banana between sets.” –  Daniel Clarke, lead sustainable nutrition executive at Huel

It’s all about the supplements, dude 

“Buying a supplement stack won't help you achieve your goals. It will give you short-term motivation, but you need to make real life changes rather than just adding additional supplements.” – Chris Roche, strength and conditioning expert at Huel

Where is the nearest cow? I must eat it all immediately 

“You don’t have to have steak every day to gain muscle. Putting on muscle isn’t just about protein. You need to eat more calories. I’m quite a skinny guy. If I want to put on muscle, three steaks a day won’t work. You need fuel and energy to bulk up. That means carbs.” – Daniel Clarke, lead sustainable nutrition executive at Huel

Getting shredded, bro

You just have to eat less and move more 

“It’s not all about how much you eat and how much you move. Body weight is a complex thing and is influenced by countless factors, some of which are changeable and some of which are not. Alongside improving your diet and moving your body, consider how well you sleep, and how you can reduce your day-to-day stress or anxiety. All of these factors have an influence on your health and body weight.” – Rosie Martin, NHS health and wellness dietitian, and an advisory board member for Plant Based Health Professionals UK

Weight training is only for gaining weight

“One of the biggest gym myths I want people to get over is that weight training is no good for losing weight. You must weight train if you want to lose weight. A high reps, low weights programme is going to help tone your muscles and burn more calories than just an aerobic session. A higher muscle mass can also boost your metabolic activity, meaning it’s more efficient at fat and calorie burning all round.” - Chris Antoni, Tailor Made Fitness 

I have to do HIIT every day to get thin

“It might help, but in time, it can wreak havoc on your hormones, your mood, your sleep and your stress levels. And too much stress is bad for fat-burning.” – Lucy Gornall, head of wellness at Puresport

Doing crunches will build a six-pack

“Ab exercises do play a part in getting a six-pack, but they should by no means be the only thing you are doing to train your core. Targeting compound exercises like squats and deadlifts also help. You might not feel the direct burn, but these exercises have your core working overdrive to stabilise your body during. Trim that excess belly fat by adding cardio in, as well as healthy eating, to help improve your chances of getting the six-pack you want.” – Chris Antoni

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