From how much you should be warming up to how long you should spend on cardio, there is a lot of conflicting info out there. Adding more confusion to the mix, we are constantly inundated with new fads and flashy quick-fixes. I mean, that latest TikTok trend sure looks cool, but is it really working your abs in the best way?
Psychology Today has two exercise myths tests that quickly quiz your fitness IQ. They not only help you find out your baseline knowledge, but are a great refresher to brush up on your exercise expertise. The first, the Exercise IQ Test, is a basic 10-question starter that scores your general know-how and debunks some common myths. The quiz, it explains, was designed to test how well you separate the rumors from the facts. (Example: Can women build muscle like men even with less testosterone?)
The second, a Fitness IQ Test, is a bit more in-depth and evaluates whether you have “an all-around knowledge of exercise" that "allows you to optimize your exercise routine and to increase your fitness level.” After finishing each test, you get an individualized report that unpacks your current fitness understanding. You can take both in just 15 minutes.
If your score is lower than you'd thought it would be, don't get discouraged. Fitness myths are rampant in our age misinformation. So how do we spot them?
First and foremost, look for fitness professionals who aren't afraid to admit when they don't know something, suggests Michelle Ditto, training development manager for Pure Barre.
“One of the biggest things I seek out in trainers is the ability to see their own blind spots, and the admission that no one has all of the answers,” she says. “Fitness coexists with other aspects of the health and wellness field, including but not limited to nutrition guidance, medical care, mental health access, etc.” A personal trainer isn't an expert in nutrition, for instance, so be wary when you hear one offering diet advice.
When judging the many sexy promises posted all over social media, Ditto says to look past the “like” counts. “With social media—specifically TikTok and Instagram becoming wildly accessible as sources to seek out the latest trends—fitness advice has become ubiquitous with flashy quick-fix promises mixed with detox teas,” she explains. “Quality advice tends to come from those who show reverence to where their expertise stops, and almost never zeroes in on a single product or 'quick fix' as the 'be-all-end-all' of fitness for everyone,” she says. While degrees and certifications are not everything, she says, checking your sources' qualifications is a great place to start.
Everyone works out with unique goals, unique lifestyles, and unique priorities. There is truly no one-size-fits-all approach. Ditto's best advice? “Get comfy with hearing the phrase 'it depends.' ”
“Science is messy, and with often blurry edges. Fit pros who are comfortable operating ‘in the gray’ and clearly understand the nuance that is fitness science are probably better sources, as they demonstrate a deeper understanding of the 'why' behind fitness programs based on individual goals and circumstances,” she says.
And when you’re met with what may be a fitness fad and are a bit unsure if it has any truth to it, give it the Ditto test:
- If it is offering “generalized specifics” or promising results in a set amount of time (like gain X amount of muscle in Y weeks), it is probably fake news.
- If it is trying to actively make you buy something, someone is most likely directly profiting off of the purchase. (Not to say that making money is inherently bad, but be wary of those who promote a singular product, since their intention is often self-serving.)
- If it is dealing in absolutes (like do these X things I always do and you will reach your goal weight), it is most likely unsubstantiated fluff.
At the end of the day, becoming more knowledgeable about fitness will help you reach your goals without falling prey to the junk science that gets repeated in locker rooms and Twitter threads. So, pack your toolkit with real info and focus on what’s best for your health and wellness goals.
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