Brain and Body

The 6 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making in Your Workout Routine

November 12, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Body builder lifting weights at the gym in a Superman tanktop
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Put the protein shake down.

Exercise is brimming with myths and misconceptions. Whether you want to slim down or bulk up, make sure you aren’t incorporating any of these workout misconceptions in your fitness routine.

1. Running on a treadmill is better for your knees

You’ve probably heard that running outside on pavement or asphalt puts a lot more stress on your knees than opting to use a treadmill. Todd Schlifstein, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute, told WebMD, “Since it's the force of your body weight on your joints that causes the stress, it's the same whether you're on a treadmill or on asphalt.” He advises mixing up your workout routine to save your knees from stress — run one day, then switch to an elliptical, use a stationary bike for your next workout, etc.

2. Lifting weights will make you big and bulky

This misconception scares a lot of women away from the weight room. They fear that lifting weights will replace their feminine physiques with macho-looking masculine ones. Rutgers exercise scientist Shawn Arent told Business Insider, “It's just not true; you get so many health benefits from it. Women in particular tend to say 'oh I don't want to get that big.' You don't have the hormones to support getting that big. And especially if you're doing a lot of aerobic exercise, it's not going to happen.”

So fear no more and hit the weights, ladies. Strength training can help you develop strong bones, increase your stamina, reduce back pain, and control your body fat.

3. Doing crunches will land you chiseled six-pack abs

It would seem logical that doing ab-burning amounts of crunches would bring on that sculpted six-pack, but unfortunately that’s not the case. According to Men’s Fitness, experts say toned abs come from a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs effectively, getting enough sleep and managing your stress levels. Personal trainer and strength coach Eric Allen said big bodybuilders get their abs from squats, deadlifts, and chinups.

4. You should chug a protein shake after a workout

Nope. Mark Macdonald, personal trainer and author of Body Confidence told CNN that protein shakes, powders and bars are good for emergencies, but "they're the lowest quality food." He says it’s much better to get protein through real food, like a turkey sandwich and greek yogurt with nuts. Martin Gibala, chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, agreed with Macdonald, saying that protein in real food is the number one source. "When we isolate the compound we think works, it's not as good as the real foods,” she told CNN.

5. If you aren’t sweating, you’re not working hard enough

Everybody’s body is different, and feeling like you have to push yourself until you’re sweating buckets is the sure way to overwork yourself. Your body can get a great workout without breaking a sweat at all through activities like taking a walk or light weight training. Phil Tyne, director of the fitness center at the Baylor Tom Landry Health & Wellness Center in Dallas, told WebMD, “Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself."

6. No pain, no gain

Many people think if they don’t feel the burn or lots of body tension during their workouts, that means they’re not working to their best potential. This outlook is not only false, but it’s most likely to end in bodily harm and injuries. Feeling sore for a day or two after a workout is fine, but feeling pain during a workout is a different story. If a fitness activity hurts while you’re doing it, it hints that you’re doing it wrong or that you may have an existing injury. So instead of being a tough guy and trying to persist through the pain, give your body the break it’s asking for.


Exercising three or more times a week can not only help you tone your curves or bulk up your muscles, but it can boost your mood and relieve you from the mental stressors in your life. Nonetheless, it’s critical to make sure your exercise routine is done the correct way, so be wary of the most common workout tips circulating throughout your local gym — some may be valuable advice, whereas others may be nothing more than science myth.

You might also enjoy: Lactic Acid Doesn’t Cause Muscle Pain

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