Author: Tom Collins


The Complete 4-Week Beginner’s Workout Program

liftingIn the realm of fitness, three-month programs dominate the landscape. You’ve even seen plenty of them in this magazine over the years. Are they effective? Absolutely. But we’re going to let you in on an interesting secret: It doesn’t necessary take eight or 12 weeks to get your feet wet in the gym. Not that you’ll be a seasoned vet after four weeks, but if you can just get that first month under your belt, you’ll get yourself over the proverbial hump where so many fail and give up, and set the stage for a lifetime of gains.

Beginner Tips

Let’s just call this the accelerated beginner’s guide to bodybuilding. In this plan, your first month of training will be demanding, but not so demanding as to cause injury (or worse yet, burnout), and progressive in the sense that each week you’ll graduate to different exercises, higher volume, more intensity or all of the above. After four weeks you’ll not only be ready for the next challenge but you’ll have built a significant amount of quality muscle. In other words, one month from now you’ll look significantly better with your shirt off than you look now. (How’s that for results?)

This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.

Week One

You’ll begin the program with a full-body training split, meaning you’ll train all major bodyparts in each workout (as opposed to “splitting up” your training). Train three days this first week, performing just one exercise per bodypart in each session. It’s important that you have a day of rest between each workout to allow your body to recover; this makes training Monday, Wednesday and Friday—with Saturday and Sunday being rest days—a good approach.

The exercises listed in Week 1 are a collection of basic moves that, while also used by advanced lifters, we feel are suitable for the beginner as well. Notice we’re not starting you off with only machine exercises; a handful of free-weight movements are present right off the bat. Reason being, these are the exercises you need to master for long-term gains in muscular size and strength, so you may as well start learning them now. Carefully read all exercise descriptions, starting on page, before attempting them yourself.

In Week 1 you’ll perform three sets of every exercise per workout, which over the course of the week adds up to nine sets total for each bodypart, a good starting volume for your purposes. With the exception of crunches for abs, you’ll do 8–12 reps per set. This rep scheme is widely considered ideal for achieving gains in muscle size (the scientific term is hypertrophy) and is commonly employed by amateur and pro bodybuilders alike.

Notice in the workouts below that your first set calls for eight reps, your second set 10 reps and your third set 12. This is referred to in bodybuilding circles as a “reverse pyramid” (a standard pyramid goes from higher to lower reps), where you decrease the weight each set to complete the higher rep count. For example, if on your first set of lat pulldowns you used 140 pounds for eight reps, try using 120 or 130 pounds on set two and 100–120 pounds on set three.

Week Three

You’re only a week into the program, yet you’ll begin to train different bodyparts on different days with a two-day training split (meaning the entire body is trained over the course of two days, rather than one as in the first week). You’ll train a total of four days this week; the split includes two upper-body days (Monday and Thursday) and two lower-body days (Tuesday and Friday), and each bodypart is trained twice. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday will be your recovery days.

Several exercises from Week 1 are carried over to Week 2, but one move is added to each bodypart routine—with the exception of abs—so you can train all muscle groups more completely from multiple angles. Chest, for example, includes two exercises: One is a compound movement (dumbbell bench press) that involves multiple joints (both the shoulder and elbow) to work the largest amount of muscle possible, and the other is an isolation exercise (dumbbell flye) that involves only one joint (shoulder) and targets the pecs to a greater extent. (When doing presses for chest, the deltoids and triceps are involved to a degree, meaning presses don’t isolate the pecs as much as flyes do.)

You’ll again employ a reverse pyramid scheme of reps, though in Week 2 you’ll go slightly higher in reps (15) on your third set of each exercise. Fifteen reps may be just outside the ideal muscle-building range, but these sets will help you increase muscular endurance to provide a solid foundation on which to build size and strength going forward.

Week Four

In the third week of the program we step it up to a three-day training split: Train all “pushing” bodyparts (chest, shoulders, triceps) on Day 1; hit the “pulling” bodyparts (back, biceps) and abs on Day 2; and work your lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) on Day 3. As in Week 2, you train each bodypart twice a week, so you’ll hit the gym six days this week.

One new exercise is added to each bodypart routine to provide even more angles from which to train your target muscles to promote complete development. You’ll hit each muscle group with two exercises of 3­–4 sets each: four sets for large bodyparts (chest, back, shoulders, quads, hamstrings) and three sets for smaller bodyparts (biceps, triceps, abs, calves). The result is 16 total sets for the week for large bodyparts and 12 sets total for smaller ones—again, working in the 8–15-rep range—which is a substantial increase in volume from Week 1.
In the fourth and final week of the program, you’ll train four days in a four-way split that hits each bodypart just once (except for calves and abs, which are each trained twice). Four-day splits are common among experienced lifters because they involve training fewer bodyparts (typically 2–3) per workout, which gives each muscle group ample attention and allows you to train with higher volume. As you’ll see, chest and triceps are paired up, as are back with biceps and quads with hamstrings, each a very common pairing among novice and advanced bodybuilders. Shoulders are trained more or less on their own, and you’ll alternate hitting calves and abs—which respond well to being trained multiple times per week—every other workout. No new exercises are introduced in Week 4 so that you can focus on intensity in your workouts instead of learning new movements.

Rep schemes remain in the hypertrophy range this week, but overall volume increases by adding more sets to individual exercises: up to five sets per move for larger bodyparts, and even 10 sets of calf raises on Thursday. This bump in volume will ensure that your muscles are overloaded sufficiently to continue the growth they’ve already begun experiencing in the first three weeks. Completion of this four-week program now entitles you to go to the next stage.

Personal Trainer

Top 10 Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer

There’s a reason movie stars and financial moguls use personal trainers: The benefits of working with a personal trainer is one of the fastest, easiest, most successful ways to improve your health and fitness. In fact, the benefits of personal training has proved so effective that it has spread well beyond the realm of the rich and famous. Today, personal trainers are used by people of all fitness, age and economic levels–and from all over the world–to help make lifestyle changes those people couldn’t achieve by themselves. How do you know if hiring a personal trainer is the right choice for you? Consider the following things a personal trainer can do:Personal Trainer

1. Improve Your Overall Fitness. IDEA surveys show the primary reason people hire personal trainers is to get professional assistance to improve cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, balance and coordination. A personal trainer will monitor your progress and fine-tune your program as you go, helping you work your way off plateaus.

2. Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight. Body fat reduction, weight reduction or management, body shaping and toning can all be achieved with the aid of a qualified personal trainer, who can help you set realistic goals and determine safe strategies, all while providing the encouragement you need.

3.Learn to Stick to It. Sticking with well-intentioned plans is one of the biggest challenges exercisers face. Qualified personal trainers can provide motivation for developing a lifestyle that places a high priority on health and activity. A personal trainer can help you brainstorm ways to overcome your biggest obstacles to exercise.

4. Focus on Your Unique Health Concerns. IDEA surveys show that 50 percent of personal trainers clients have special medical needs, such as arthritis, diabetes or obesity. A personal trainer can help you with these or other issues, including low-back pain, rehabilitation from injury and pre/postnatal training. Your personal trainer can work with your physician, physical therapist or other health care provider to plan a safe, efficient program that will speed your recovery or enable you to reach your health goals.

5. Find the Right Way to Work Out. You will learn the correct way to use equipment, and appropriate form and technique for cardiovascular work and free-weight training.

6. Stop Wasting Time. Get maximum results in minimum time with a program designed specifically for you. Workouts that use your strengths and improve on your weaknesses are efficient and effective.

7. Learn New Skills. Want to improve your tennis game, learn to ski, become an in-line skater, golf like a pro, better your weekend basketball game or get ready for a wilderness adventure vacation? An individualized program can improve your overall conditioning and develop the specific skills you need.

8. Enhance Your Mind, Body and Spirit. A personal trainer can act as a doorway to new personal growth experiences. Many personal trainers provide mind-body activities, such as yoga or tai chi sessions. Your personal trainer may help you uncover new insights about yourself or find potential you didn’t realize you had.

9. Benefit From the Buddy System. What could be better than making a commitment to regularly meet with someone who will provide you with individualized attention and support?

10. Take Charge of Your Program, and Do It Your Way. With the right personal trainer, you can find the exercise program that works best for you. Are you more comfortable with a demanding program or a gentler approach? Would you like to train at home or at work, at a fitness club or in a personal trainer’s facility? How many times per week or month do you want to meet your personal trainer, and for how long? Carefully choosing a personal trainer enables you to select the type of guidance that will benefit you. You can get fit and healthy your way and take ultimate responsibility for your own health.

To find a personal trainer in your area, search the largest directory of fitness professionals, IDEA FitnessConnect:


The best workout ever, according to science

PullupIT SEEMS LIKE every other week there’s a new study touting the best way to work out. And, really, how you do it depends a lot on your goal—someone looking to gain muscle mass may hit the gym differently than someone training for a triathlon. A few specific trends have emerged in recent years regarding working out for general fitness, and more specifically how to elicit the optimal metabolic response—that “afterburn” effect of continued calorie consumption for up to 48 hours after a session—e.g., the biggest bang for your effort and time. What the studies have in common: taking a circuit approach to resistance training, using heavy-but-manageable loads, alternately working multiple muscle groups, and rotating through the exercises with little or no rest in between.

We asked exercise scientist Jeffrey M. Willardson, Ph.D., CSCS, associate professor of Kinesiology and Sports Studies at Eastern Illinois University to design a workout that incorporates these principles. Do each exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions, using weights that produce fatigue but not failure, and go from one move to the next without stopping. Willardson suggests repeating the circuit one to three times, every other day.

Choose an Exercise that Works well With your Body and Physique

LiftCelebrities from all walks of life sports, movies, music, films and fashion have to outsmart time and challenge their body to get ever so well defined physique. Women Fitness team after a tiring run against time was able to get few celebrities speak on how in spite of their busy schedule they manage to stay fit and lean.

“Test, evaluate and readjust your training based on what you see in the mirror, not on what is weakest.” says Alina Andrews, winner of Miss Galaxy Universe (Fitness) in her recent interview to Women Fitness. What this means that even though you might think your bicep curls are a little weak, if in the mirror it’s your triceps that are a looking small and out of balance then you must focus on these and not your biceps.

Strike a balance of exercise and diet that you can sustain all year, every year. Sure this requires hard work and commitment, sometimes you are tired, but that’s just life. However if those feelings come in too often then you know the balance isn’t quite right so something needs changing, are the words shared by Alina Andrews, Miss Galaxy.

Choose an exercise that works well with your body and physique, to prevent dropout. Liz” McClarnon, the famous english pop singer, dancer and television presenter stays fit by skipping. In her words “My exercises are just usually skipping. It works well for me because I get bored on a treadmill and need something that is quick and high impact. I was in a musical recently and we used to do skipping in warm up. I really got into it, so I kept it up.”

Have someone to push you or take a friend to workout together. Maria Balikoeva (formerly Verchenova), a Russian professional golfer, believes its very important to have a fitness coach, friend or someone to push you or maybe workout together, especially with crazy work routines. Maddy King and her boyfriend Kris try to get out on their bike “as much as we can, a ride down to Bondi Beach followed by a swim and vegetable juice is a perfect morning!”

Use your body as a tool to gain strength: Who needs a gym when there’s the living room floor? Bodyweight exercises are a simple, effective way to improve balance,flexibility, and strength without machinery or extra equipment. Irina Shayk, top celebrity model speaks on exercise type “I love to work out with my trainer he advised me not to use any weights, so I use only body weight.”

Use lighter weight and many repetitions: Yes you can tone with light weights better than heavy because high reps is similar to cardio and the after burn effect does burn fat. Lifting lighter weights, also builds muscular endurance, far more so than grunting through fewer repetitions with heavy weights, and results in less risk of muscular injury. As a bonus, completing more repetitions with lighter weights also results in “a greater amount of total work” per session, meaning more calories burned than fewer repetitions with heavier weights.

Adjust your workout routine to your work profile: Khatuna Lorig, no.1 women Archer from US keeps herself fit by focusing on upper body workouts to cope with her job pressure. Dumb bells and free weight with low weight and many repetitions.

Add Variety to speed up progress: “I am a big advocate of variety. I believe doing the same routines or the same exercises delays progress. I switch things up from yoga to cardio, to weight training to pilates. It also helps me to stay interested in the gym. ” states Blair O’Neal, a leading golfer and a model. She has been named by Sports Illustrated as “One of the Hottest 50 Athletes of All-Time. Same words are shared by Carli Lloyd, two-time Olympic gold medalist in professional soccer” I do a variety of different things to continuously build my fitness levels. I’m constantly working at my aerobic power, non-aerobic power and strength and power doing body weight exercises. I also spend countless hours stretching. Over 50% of my training load is fitness related.” Hofit Golan, an accomplished media personality believes in, Keeping active as often as possible for an ultimate exercise.

Separate cardio from strength training: You have heard it number of times but one more time, alternate cardio and strength training. Katherine Jenkins, the world’s most prolific classical crossover artist shares her workout routine “I separate my workouts into cardio & strength. On a cardio day, I either run or take a class like Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle. On a strength day, I work at home with my trainer Mel Deane using weights, TRX, bands etc.”

Separate cardio from strength training: You have heard it number of times but one more time, alternate cardio and strength training. Katherine Jenkins, the world’s most prolific classical crossover artist shares her workout routine “I separate my workouts into cardio & strength. On a cardio day, I either run or take a class like Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle. On a strength day, I work at home with my trainer Mel Deane using weights, TRX, bands etc.”


10 Exercise Myths

While it’s absolutely true that you should push yourself and try to extend the limits of your endurance when you exercise, it’s not true at all that the best workouts are the ones that leave you feeling horrible, sore, and beat up the next day. Discomfort is natural, but pain? No way. “The idea that exercise should hurt is simply wrong—muscle pain during or following exercise usually suggests an injury,” Dr. Parr explains. “However, some muscle soreness is unavoidable, especially if you are new to exercise.”

This myth has been debunked by doctors, physical therapists, and researchers of all stripes, but it still persists because most people conflate the idea of pushing themselves to work out harder with pain. This myth is so persistent that even the MythBusters tackled it. It’s important to remember that your workouts should still be challenging, but if you’re experiencing pain, you should stop. In fact, if your workouts hurt, you probably won’t be as motivated to continue them, which is exactly the opposite of what your workouts should be.

Myth 2: Soreness After Exercise Is Caused by Lactic Acid Building Up in Your Muscles

So what is that soreness you get a day or two after working out? It’s called DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness,) and the belief that it’s caused by lactic acid building up in your muscles while you exercise is false. Dr. Parr explains that this isn’t the case:

A common belief is that lactic acid build-up in the muscle causes muscle soreness. This is based on the fact that during intense exercise like weight training the muscles make energy for contraction anaerobically (without oxygen), which leads to lactic acid production. This is in contrast to aerobic exercises like walking or jogging that produce energy using oxygen, with little lactic acid build-up. This belief that lactic acid causes DOMS has been shown to be false since any lactic acid that is produced during exercise is cleared shortly after you finish, long before muscle soreness begins.
Instead, that soreness is actually caused by tears in your muscle that occur as you exercise—especially if you’re just starting an exercise regimen: “It turns out that strenuous exercise leads to microscopic tears in the muscle, which leads to inflammation and soreness. This sounds bad, but the muscle damage is an important step in the muscle getting bigger and stronger. Your muscles are made up of protein filaments that shorten, leading to a contraction,” he continues. Essentially, as your body repairs those microscopic tears, you’re building new, healthy, and strong muscle tissue. This is also the reason why weight training encourages you to increase the resistance or heaviness of your weights as you get accustomed to one level—it’s only through this process that you actually get stronger and build more muscle.

If you want to avoid that soreness, Dr. Parr suggests you start your exercise program slowly and ramp up over time—don’t do too much before you (and your body) are ready, and don’t feel bad about taking a day off between workouts to recover if you’re too sore. Alternatively, switch up your workouts: skip the weights and go for a run instead, for example. After all, an exercise program that makes you so miserable you’ll quit after a week won’t do you any good in the long run.

Myth 3: Exercise Is Worthless If I Can’t Do It Regularly for Hours

Speaking of miserable, getting in shape (not to be confused with losing weight, mind you) doesn’t have to take a really long time. The fact that it does for most people though, is probably a good thing. Let’s be clear: there’s no silver bullet, and there’s no magic method to get in shape quickly, but there’s a great deal of new research that shows a healthy exercise regimen doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym every single day. One study, conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and published in the March 2012 edition of the Journal of Physiology (PubMed link) showed that even 20 minutes per day can be all you need.

Here’s the catch: yes, there’s an easier way to do this, one that requires less time, but you’ll need to up the intensity of your workouts in order to benefit. The process is called High Intensity Interval Training, a topic we’ve shown you how to get started with before. Dr. Parr noted that yes—interval training is a great way to cut down on the length of your workouts and get results in less time, but it requires more effort. Essentially, yes, you can get a great workout in 15 minutes a day every day, but most people will make themselves miserable in the process and give up their exercise regimen within a few days. As always, talk to your doctor about what you can handle, start slowly, and find the sweet spot that works for you between intensity and time. If you have an hour to spare every day, use it instead of killing yourself cramming your exercise into a half-hour. If you can handle a super-intense half-hour workout, go for it.

The other point worth making though is that yes, regular, repeated exercise has great health benefits, but if you don’t think you can fit in a workout every single day for the rest of your life, that’s no reason not to go for a walk today. Even a half-hour walk can make a big difference. Any activity is good activity—don’t cheat your body out of it because you don’t think you’ll be able to do it again tomorrow, or the next day.

Myth 4: You Need a Sports Drink When Exercising to Replenish Your Body’s Electrolytes/Minerals/Etc

This is one of those myths that got carried away from its original intent. “Sports drinks are important for improving performance in high-intensity exercise that lasts longer than an hour. Think of a marathon or triathlon. The reason: sports drinks provide water to replace what is lost in sweat and sugar (glucose), the fuel muscles need most in intense exercise,” Dr. Parr explains. What about low-intensity exercise though, or people who just hit the treadmill for a half-hour every night after work, or bike around town on the weekends? Not necessary at all: “For
lower intensity or shorter duration exercise sports drinks are not needed. In fact, if you are exercising with the goal of losing weight, the calories in the sports drink you consume might offset the calories you burned during exercise!”

This is a good point, one often ignored in the ads for sugary, high-calorie vitamin drinks and energy drinks that make you think you need them if you’re planning to hit the gym at all. Those drinks are highly beneficial to the people who need them, and they have their place, but for most people doing moderate exercise, water will do. Dr. Parr isn’t the only person who thinks so, although sports drink manufacturers would disagree (and indeed, the self-styled “Gatorade Sports Science Institute” has an entire page—one that in my research I found copied word-for-word in many other places—dedicated to why sports drinks are great for everyone.)

Myth 5: Stretching Before Exercise Will Prevent Injury

This particular myth is contentious. There are pro and anti-stretching arguments, with staunch support on both sides, but the confusion about stretching comes down to the fact that many confuse “stretching” with “warming up.” It’s very important to warm up before strenuous exercise, and warming up can prevent injury, but stretching specifically has been shown to at best have little benefit (as this 2007 review of over 10 separate studies (PDF link) published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded) and at worst inhibit performance (as this 2011 study conducted by the University of Northampton and published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (PubMed) concluded.)

Even the Centers for Disease Control have said stretching doesn’t prevent injuries. We’ve mentioned this before, and even made the mistake of confusing stretching with warming up before, so it’s important that you don’t. Make sure you warm up properly before you begin a workout, possibly even include some stretches to limber up and boost your flexibility, but leave the long stretch-sessions to those long hours at your desk instead.

Myth 6: Working Out Will Only Build Muscle, Not Help Me Lose Weight

Frankly, most people who start exercising won’t see much immediate weight loss, unless everything else in their lifestyle is already optimal. And sadly, because many people don’t see that initial benefit, they believe that exercise is worthless and diet is where it’s at. That’s not the case, according to Dr. Parr. “This is a common misconception that just isn’t true. It is based partly on research that shows that people who try to lose weight by exercise only
lose less weight that people who do diet only or diet + exercise. The reason for this is that is relatively easier to cut back on the calories you eat than it is to burn the same number of calories through exercise.”

Dr. Parr admits that for many people, you may get the bigger bang for your buck by changing your diet, but the belief that exercise increases muscle mass and therefore will make you gain weight instead of lose it just isn’t the case. “Exercise, especially strength training, can increase muscle mass. Some people believe that the added muscle mass leads to weight gain, not weight loss. While exercise could lead to an increase in muscle it is unlikely that someone dieting to lose weight would experience this,” he explains. “In fact, when most people lose weight they lose both fat and muscle. If anything, exercise would help maintain muscle and promote fat loss. The decrease in muscle mass during weight loss can lead to a reduction in resting metabolic rate, which is part of the reason that people tend to regain weight following a diet. By reducing the loss of muscle, exercise may help maintain metabolic rate and prevent weight regain.”

If you’re looking for workout success stories that aren’t pulled from late-night infomercials, Dr. Parr suggests you check out the National Weight Control Registry, which is full of personal stories of individuals who lost weight and kept it off, and how they did it. There’s no reason to feel alone, or doomed to failure. Remember, your weight isn’t the end-all-be-all of your health. When combined with diet, exercise can be a powerful combination to help you lose weight, but also live a healthier life. Check out these other great reasons to exercise from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), from lowering your risk of diabetes and most forms of cancer to helping with anxiety and depression, all of which are huge health benefits.

Myth 7: Exercise Will Help Me Lose Weight Quickly

The inverse of the previous myth, this is the one that usually turns people off from exercise entirely when they spend hours exercising and don’t see the results they were hoping for. The problem is that exercise can help you lose weight, but it’s not the direct “calories in less than calories burned therefore weight lost” oversimplification that’s so often repeated. For example, walking a mile in an hour will burn about 100 calories. Sitting in a chair for the same period of time will probably burn 60 calories. The real weight-loss benefits to exercise come from the eventual ramp-up of tolerance for intensity and duration of exercise that you get once you get started.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) busted this particular myth. As you exercise, you’ll start walking faster, or maybe running, or perhaps you’ll walk longer and spend more time walking. If you walk or run five miles instead of one, you’ll burn 500 calories, and while it’ll take longer, the weight loss benefits scale better over time than sitting at home, so as you train, you’ll lose more weight. It’s also important to note that—as we mentioned earlier—don’t confuse the weight loss benefits of exercise with the health benefits of exercise, which you feel almost immediately.

Myth 8: You Need to Take Supplements to Build Muscle

Sadly, this is another myth that’s applicable to some people, but not most of us—but you’d never know it from the way they’re marketed. Supplements can help, especially if you’re a bodybuilder or strength trainer, but the typical person who does some weight training two or three times a week to stay fit and build a little muscle mass doesn’t need to chug creatine or protein shakes in order to build muscle. Dr. Parr explains, “It is true that you need more protein is you want to build muscle size and strength. But you can easily get that protein from food, meaning that supplements are unnecessary. In fact, the protein in most supplements is derived from milk or soy anyway, so you are paying for a supplement manufacturer to extract the protein from food and sell it back to you! Additionally, getting the added protein from food also provides you with energy (calories) and carbohydrates which you need to fuel your workouts.”

No one’s telling you to skip the protein shake if you think it’s tasty and enjoy it, but remember it’s essentially another meal—a caloric intake you may not need if you’re just going to go home and make dinner—which, if you make something rich in protein as well as other vitamins and nutrients, will give you the benefits of the shake in a more complete package. If you’re a serious bodybuilder and you do weight training for hours a day every day, the rules might be different for you, but for the average person, all the extra supplements you may be adding to your food or drinks aren’t likely to do you much good.

Myth 9: If You Don’t Exercise When You’re Young, It’s Dangerous When You Get Older

It’s never too late to start a workout regimen and improve your overall health, you just have to be cautious and aware of how you go about it. A 2009 study of over 1800 seniors by the Hebrew University Medical Center and Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (and subsequently used as a reference base for additional research also available at that link) concluded that seniors who exercised—or even started to exercise—late in life were likely to live longer than those who didnt, and live out their last years healthier than their counterparts who avoided exercise.

CSPI tackled this myth as well, and this article at WebMD is full of myths about exercise and older adults, for anyone who’s worried they may be doing their health more harm than good by exercising in middle-to-old age. The key is to find a workout that’s at the right impact level for your age and condition—and as we’ve said before, the health benefits, in areas like memory, anxiety and depression, and even arthritis or joint pain make themselves apparent almost immediately.

Myth 10: Working Out at Home/Working Out at the Gym is Better than Working Out at Home/Working Out at the Gym

Ah, the double-sided myth. No, we’re not going to weigh in on whether exercising at a gym is better or worse than working out at home, or vice versa. There are opinions on both sides of the issue, and studies that have come down on both sides as well. The important thing here is to get rid of the “one is better than the other” statement and remember that different people exercise differently. A 2009 article from The New York Times cited a 2008 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine which found people with home gyms are more likely to begin to exercise, but less likely to continue exercising in the long run—but the conclusion wasn’t that home gyms are ineffective at keeping people engaged with exercise in the long term, and it wasn’t that home gyms are better at inspiring people to exercise. Instead, the study found that what really matters is the individual’s personal belief that they have the power to start and stick to an exercise regimen, whether the gear is in their basement or at a gym 10 miles away.

Essentially, those individuals who were able to really motivate themselves to work out and believed they could stick to it were more likely to benefit from a home gym. People who were less confident in their ability to stick to a workout regimen did better with a gym membership, or by making their workouts part of their routine. In the end, both versions of this myth are false, and the truth is that the best type of workout, whether it’s at home or in a gym, depends on you and how motivated you are to stick to your exercise goals.

As always, these exercise myths just scratch the surface. There are tons of other commonly held beliefs about exercise that are questionable, if not completely false. Research into many myths is ongoing, so scientists and doctors have the ammunition they need to tell their patients and the public how to get the most from their workouts without harming themselves, or getting frustrated and giving up. We hope we’ve helped clear up some of those myths for you, so you can get back to your workout with confidence.

If you stumble onto some indredulous claim about exercise, remember the tips from the end of our first food myths post to debunk it yourself—look for studies to support the assertion, or at least reputable sources with cited experts who can be tracked down. There’s a lot of confusing information about exercise out there, and a skeptical eye—one that’s also willing to let go of their own opinions when faced with evidence to the contrary—goes a long way.

Dr. Brian B. Parr is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, and has his own blog where he writes about exercise, nutrition, and health issues. He also authors a regular health and fitness column for the Aiken Standard. He graciously volunteered his expertise for this story, and we thank him.