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Common fitness myths debunked

In partnership with Newcastle Knights

We sort fact from fiction, with help from the expert

Two women in their 30s wearing grey exercise clothes and doing a barre class together
Two women in their 30s wearing grey exercise clothes and doing a barre class together

Thanks to the internet and social media, there’s a lot of information out there these days when it comes to fitness – and with it comes a lot of misinformation, too. At nib, we consider ourselves your health partner, sorting fact from fiction when it comes to keeping you fit and strong. So, with a little expert help from Patrick Lane, nib Newcastle Knights Strength & Conditioning Coach, we’ve debunked some of the most common fitness myths. 

Myth #1: No pain, no gain 

This is one we’ve all heard before, but exercise doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it shouldn’t hurt – if you feel any unusual pain during exercise, you should slow down or stop. “The saying ‘no pain, no gain’ does not mean train through injury. This is obviously a no-no,” explains Patrick. “Training through pain due to injury will inhibit muscle response and alter normal movement patterns.”  

But there’s a catch. Feeling your muscles working gets a green light! “Training through discomfort in the form of lactic acid build-up, for example, is beneficial for both fat loss and muscle gain.” 

Myth #2: Crunches will give you flat abs 

We hate to be the bearers of bad news but doing a whole lot of abdominal crunches isn’t the way to get a flat tummy! Including very targeted exercises, such as crunches, in your workout is great to help build strength in the ab area but doing abdominal exercises alone won’t burn enough calories to result in fat loss when it’s your only form of exercise. Instead, try adding walking or other aerobic exercise and focus on healthy nutrition

Myth #3: If I exercise, I can eat whatever I want  

If only it were this simple! While we all need to stay active and get movement into our daily routines, all the exercise in the world won’t make up for a bad diet. As Patrick explains, “Regardless of how much exercise an individual does or doesn’t do, weight loss is simply the result of expending more calories per day than you consume. Therefore, the overconsumption of even ‘healthy’ foods is a ‘bad’ diet with the goal to lose weight. Also, being in a calorie deficit with poor-quality food choices might have an initial weight loss but will inevitably lead to a wide range of other health problems.”  

Your best bet? Consume a healthy, balanced diet of nutritious food

 Myth #4: Older and frail people can’t exercise 

Nothing could be further from the truth! There are so many different ways to get active and most people can find safe, enjoyable ways to move their bodies, even if they’re older, physically frail or have health issues. In fact, in many cases, engaging in regular physical activity – even light movement – can help build strength and reduce frailty. If you’re over 40, obese, suffer from a chronic illness or live a sedentary lifestyle, see your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen

A group of men and women playing basketball in wheelchairs

Myth #5: Lifting weights will make you bulky 

“This is my favourite myth of all time,” says Patrick. “Males have 10 to 20 times the amount of testosterone as females yet somehow most still struggle to get ‘bulky’ from lifting weights. Lifting weights can help build lean muscle mass and can also be performed in a way to accelerate fat loss.” 

Myth #6: Only vigorous, sustained exercise ‘counts’ 

If you’ve ever thought you have to be sweating and puffing to benefit from exercise, we’re happy to tell you that this isn’t the case. While experts recommend adults should be active most days, aiming each week for 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate physical activity, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity, any movement is better than none and anything that gets you moving, makes you breathe faster and speeds up your heartbeat can have benefits. Playing with the kids, gardening, walking to the train station, vacuuming… all these forms of movement are good for your body. No Lycra necessary!  

Myth #7: We need less physical activity as we age 

It’s incredibly important to stay active as we get older, with regular physical activity helping reduce conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity and even some types of cancer. Most of us lose some muscle mass, bone density and flexibility as we age, but continued physical activity can help reduce the chances of chronic health conditions, weakness and frailty, and potentially help us live longer. So, whether you’re 18 or 64, are the same: 

  • 2.5-5 hours each week of moderate intensity physical activity (like brisk walking or swimming) or, 

  • 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity (like jogging or cycling) or, 

  • A combination of both 

The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.  

Newcastle Knights players training at the field wearing their nib training uniform

In partnership with

Newcastle Knights

nib remains the longest continuous supporter of the nib Newcastle Knights and we’re passionate about the important role that exercise, particularly sport, has on the health and wellbeing of Australians.

In 2021, nib announced its commitment to equal sponsorship of the club’s NRL and NRLW teams to pave the way for greater representation of women and diversity in sport.

nib continues to support the Newcastle Knights’ digital platforms to tell the stories of NRL and NRLW players as a way to encourage all Australians to live health first.