Top 10 Most Ridiculous Pieces Of Fitness Advice

Have you ever stopped and watched others while they were doing their workout? Or listened in to trainers working with their clients?

Okay, so I don’t encourage this sort of behavior… you really should be focused in on your own kick ass workout but sometimes you just can’t help but stop dead in your tracks and wonder:

“Where the heck did they learn that, and why did they think it was a good idea?”

With exercise fads popping up every which way, you can’t blame anyone for trying out some crazy contraption or workout program. But you can if they try it out and decide that it’s good enough to continue using.


Well, as a trainer I feel it’s my duty to bring to light some of the stupidest, most ridiculous, pieces of fitness advice and fads.

Some you might agree with 100%, some you might the surprised with. Either way, this is going to be fun!

PSA: If you or someone you know is victim to any of these please have a heart to heart with yourself or with that person to get on the right track. Just a little public service announcement to get the day going strong!

Top 10 Most Ridiculous Pieces Of Fitness Advice

1. Workout while you clean! 

You’ve heard this probably a thousand times before. In magazines, on blogs (possibly even here), and daily talk shows. But seriously, who actually thinks to do squats while folder clothes? Or to lunge with while vacuuming.

Yes this is solid advice, and it’s great to do… but doing squats while putting the dishes away is not going to replace a real workout. It just doesn’t. Adding these extra reps in is equivalent to parking a little further back from a store, you’ll burn some extra calories but not transform your body.


Planking while sucking up cat hair? Don’t mind if I do!

Think of this as a bonus, not as a workout.

2. No exercise required solutions.


You’ve seen it dozens of times… pills, shakes, and diet food that proudly shouts that you can see results without exercising.

Oh, really? If that’s the case the why do these companies have a teeny tiny little note at the bottom of their ads and commercials saying that results shown were acquired through exercise and diet?

Yes, you can drop weight with just dieting but it’s not going to be the weight you want to lose: fat. By dieting alone, you’re body will burn off lean muscle mass in order to decrease your daily metabolic needs. Which means fat will say in place and muscle will go bye-bye.

For real, lasting results and a figure you love… exercise is essential! Don’t fall for the ads! And remember, exercise is so much more than just a fat burning method.

3. Cleanses. 

Have you done a 3 day juice cleanse? I have. I’ll say it proudly. I’ve done 2 of them actually! Here’s a recap on my favorite (BluePrint). But not for weight loss purposes. I have so many clients and even fellow trainers asking my opinion on juice cleanses. Are they worth the money? How much weight can be dropped during a cleanse? What’s a good brand?

Here’s the thing, juice cleanses aren’t designed for weight loss. They’re designed to pump your body full of essential vitamins and nutrients. They’re designed for easy absorption. Some claim that they help get rid of junk food cravings, which I do agree with.

Basically, they are a tool to help your body get healthy, but not to drop pounds and are definitely not a long term solution.

Who wants to drink every meal through a straw?

4. The Shake Weight (and other ridiculous fitness fads)

Have you seen this thing? I’m sure you have! Every time I see one, I crack up and think of The Ellen Show.

Is this thing for real? There are so many new pieces of fitness equipment coming out that make me roll my eyes. It breaks my heart to see such junk coming out not designed to really help anyone at all, but to bring money to someone’s pocket. Yes, making money is good but not at the expense of false promises.

This is not going to burn inches of fat of the body, it’s not going to give you a six pack and it’s certainly not going to revolutionize the way you workout.

That of course comes only from total body, complex exercises and workouts.

5. Ab exercises give 6-packs.

As someone working very hard to get an “ideal stomach”, I wish that doing sit-ups and crunches would yield cuts in my stomach like the Grande Canyon. Nope, not going to happen.

While core workouts strength the abs, if there is fat on top of them you will never see those babies.

Want a flat stomach? Do workouts that burn significant amount of calories and are designed to burn body fat. Cardio and strength training is the only way to make it happen…

Well that and a crazy clean diet. Because we all know abs are made in the kitchen.

6. A mile walked is the same as a mile ran.


Someone once told me that a mile of running and a mile of walking burns the same amount of calories and provides the same benefits.

Unfortunately this isn’t so. 🙁

Running activates more muscles throughout the entire body than walking and the more muscles recruited, the more calories burned during that mile and afterwards, during recovery.

Have you ever sprinted and the next day woke up with sore abs? Have you ever had sore abs from a day of walking in the park? Unlikely.

Start where you can, if that means walking then walk. But as you continue to get stronger try to run a little more and more. You’ll see big changes in your body.

7. Light weight at high reps do the same as heavy weight at low reps.

This is a huge misconception in the women’s fitness world. So let’s clear some things up, shall we?

Will little weights give your muscles definition if you do enough reps (we’re talking A LOT of reps)? Yes. If you do 50 curls with a 3 pound weight then sure you’ll “feel the burn” and get some tone going on.

I can’t deny that.

However, will you get stronger? Will you no longer need help opening the jar of spaghetti sauce or bringing a box up from the car to the house? No.

Behind fat burning, strength is the biggest benefit if exercise. If you want to get stronger (which I definitely do) then you’re going to have to pick up some heavier weights or doing some challenging body weight exercises that encourage muscle damage (which is a good thing) to build more fibers up and increase what you’re made of!

8. First you should lose weight with cardio and then start using weights to tone up. 

I’ve heard this comment come from my own father and let’s just say it didn’t go over well.

There this idea that if you’re trying to lose weight, you should rely solely on cardio. Only after the weight is gone is it time to add in strength training to tone up the muscles.

Why is this so popular of an idea? I don’t know.

Just like with just eating, if you just use cardio for weight loss, you’re going to decrease your metabolism. You will burn off muscle (and unlike just dieting also a little bit of fat) but overall not the ratio of fat burn that you really desire.

Unlike if you combine both cardio and strength training, you’ll burn over 90% of weight from fat! Not muscle! In fact, you’ll keep muscle and add some helping to INCREASE your metabolism!

And increased metabolism means more calories burned each day and that of course leads to even more fat leaving your body.

Combine them, please.

9. You don’t have to count calories to lose weight. 

Okay, this one is a little tricky because I don’t count calories, I never have. At least not directly.

To lose weight, whether you’re aware of it or not, if you’re watching your food then you’re counting calories.  Or at least making a conscious effort to eat less of them per day.

The old trick that losing weight is a matter of burning more calories then you’re taking in rings true today.

Sure you may use tools like MyFitness Pal, Weight Watchers, Food Services, meal plans, or maybe you’re just eating healthier… but it’s all because you’re eating less calories.

No, you don’t have to have a firm grasp on exactly how many you ate each day, but you do have to know that you’re taking in less calories than you were before.


10. Exercise is supposed to make you sore. 

How do you feel the day after a good workout? Sore from the moment your feet hit the ground?

That’s normal, it’s going to happen. Sore muscles are a sign that you’ve worked out in a new and challenging way. You’ve recruited new muscles and made you body go “what just happened?”

But that doesn’t have to occur every single time you workout. Having a good workout is not noted by how sore you are or are not. If you’re not sore, it doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard… it simply means that your muscles were accustomed to the work you made them do.

Should you always do the same workout? Of course not, you should change things up regularly, however as long as you’re intensity is up throughout the workout and you’re bringing your body to some state of fatigue or discomfort for any amount of time, then you’re doing just great.

Don’t feel like a failure if you’re not sore. Celebrate waking up and feeling great!

Is there anything on this list you disagree with? Anything I left off?


  • Nice list. I do want to add something about number 8. I do agree that we can do both together, but cardio in itself doesn’t burn muscle. If we do high cardio and don’t eat enough protein then the body will cannibalize your muscles. But that goes to say with any activity and not getting enough protein. We boxers are notorious for do high cardio exercises and we do this to strip fat and excess water weight, while maintaining and strengthening muscle. They key is to eat a good balanced diet. Most boxers I know either don’t lift weight or do it very little. I am curious, why do you say cardio reduces metabolism?

    • Cardio alone reduces metabolism because of the catabolic affect that it can have on muscle. Muscle break down means a decreased overall metabolism. You’re def. right about a balanced diet and it’s affect on body composition. However, science shows that a workout without strength training will burn a high percentage of muscle than body fat. When combining the two, the ratios change and you’ll end up having over 90% of weight loss contributed to fat burning.

      • I agree science shows that is can burn muscle under the right circumstances but they are not normal circumstances. If there wasn’t enough nutrients yeah the body can metabolize muscle but this is not the norm. I am always cautious of scientific results that go against the common thought because many times the results can be presented in a way to prove a point. I guess I am leaning on my experience in boxing where being lean and strong are the goals and the high cardio and low to none strength training leads to extremely lean, extremely toned and muscular people. My energy and metabolism actually gets better when I maintain a high cardio (boxing) and no strength training.

  • Someone, not a knowledgeable someone, tried to convince me that lifting heavy weights will bulk me up and make me look like a man. Psh. I set her straight.

  • steph

    I don’t disagree, but one thing people should keep in mind: any exercise is better than none. I’ve seen people take an “all or nothing” attitude with exercise. It’s much better to do squats while cleaning than sit on the couch 🙂

    • Yeah the all or nothing mentality can be harmful.

    • You’re definitely right! Every little bit helps and those days where you just can’t get a whole workout any, any type of movement is going to be awesome!

    • Anna

      Agreed. I’ve known people who have no desire, motivation, or time to go to the gym, or even work out for that matter. Or people who physically can’t because of the severity of their weight issues. For these people, I’ve discovered it’s liberating for them to know that they can do things like take the stairs instead of the elevator, make their house chores more vigorous, have a dance party with their kid, and etc, that they can count as exercise. I personally think they’re great recommendations for some populations, depending on their needs, desires, and etc. Not everyone works out to transform their body and tone up. Lots of people simply do it for the health benefits. Simply adding more activity to your day by taking to stairs, parking farther away from the store, and dancing with your toddler gives you some of those health benefits. I don’t know, I guess it depends on your definition and purpose of exercising 🙂

      • Love it! Yes, you’re right there are so many different reasons why each of us workouts out. And that really is the #1 factor in what works and what doesn’t. Along with, of course, where you’re starting at! Thanks Anna! Happy Holidays.

  • Elizabeth

    Haha the shake weight *shakes head* I like the ever popular, “just take the stairs”. Thanks for these handy revelations!

  • So how often do you feel sore? and/or how often do you think someone should feel sore? I’m teaching yoga sculpt 3 days a week, I do sometimes feel sore when I mix up the moves we do, but is there a sore once a week goal I should be hitting?

    • Everyone is different, instead of going by soreness after a workout is done, go by how you’re pushing yourself during a workout. Is it hard, are you going beyond your comfort level? Are you really giving everything? If so then you’re doing great! For me, I would say I end up feeling pretty sore 1x/week. But even on the days when I’m not “sore” I wake def. feeling the workout with tightness and body tired in general until I get up and moving.

  • While I LOVE most of these..especially the cleanse one…I don’t agree with #7. See Body Pump

    • girl, I gotta say Body Pump is not light. Lol, those bars get loaded up, and yea it’s high reps but its tough from the start! My MIL goes crazy in body pump and has seen great strength, but that’s because she continues to add more weight. Which is what I probably should have stressed, adding more weight to add to the challenge. I’m referring more to Tracy Anderson style of fitness.

  • Kim

    Great list!!
    #10 might be my favorite – I’m rarely sore yet I know that I push myself frequently!!

  • ha, love them all! and did you know we actually have the shake weight at our gym? It was a white elephant gift. It’s ridiculous!

    • Hahaha, you should make it a station in your next circuit at boot camp!

  • Truth be told, when I am doing planks, I usually realize that I SHOULD be cleaning while exercising.

  • Love this list and planking while sucking up cat hair? haha!

    • Haha, yup! having a black cat is hard!!

  • With the BodyPump response, it does work, but I see so many people who never increase the weight on the bar or who lift ridiculously little. If you stick with BodyPump and increase weights, you see results- I feel like it helped my running because it really does train endurance. But if you’ve been going to BodyPump for a year and are still lifting the exact amount of weight you started with… you will not see results (yes, people do this!). That goes for any workout though- you have to challenge yourself at some point and do different things. Your body does adapt if you only do one workout over and over.

    For me the worst is #1 on this list. Nothing wrong with parking in the back and walking to add some extra steps, taking the stairs, etc. To me those are things you should do because you’re a healthy individual, not a workout. There is no way that parking at the back of the lot at Costco today could replace my 5 mile run, it just wouldn’t happen.

    On the other hand… if you park in a garage on one end of Charleston and your destination is a store on the other end of the peninsula… yeah, that definitely counts as parking far away to get a workout in!

    • TRUE TRUE TRUE! 🙂 You hit the nail on the coffin with what I was talking about on both points! Thanks!

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