By Katie Rosenbrock
TheActiveTimes.com

It's a familiar scenario for many: You're at the gym when you unintentionally overhear the two nice women on the treadmills next to you discussing the parameters of their exercise routines, or a trainer doling out a piece of fitness advice to their client. You catch something they say and to yourself think one of two things: "Wait, is that really true? or "I'm pretty sure that's definitely wrong."

The point is, there's lots of questionable and flat-out false fitness advice floating all around -- in the gym, online, on TV, and in magazines.

"As a fitness professional with almost 20 years of experience, I've seen and heard a lot about fitness," says Maurice D. Williams, a NASM and NSCA certified trainer and the owner of Move Well Fitness. "In my days of training clients, watching people exercise, and exercising myself, there probably has not been a day that’s gone by that I haven't heard something that made me cringe."

Yes, there are "fitness tips" so wrong that they can make a trainer cringe, so we decided to find out which are the worst offenders. Williams calls this cringe-worthy advice "gym science," or un-true information that tends to float around in gym conversations.

"Typically speaking, they either have been proven wrong or are not proven at all,” he said.

We asked a few trainers to share the worst advice they’ve ever heard.

Trainers Share Worst Fitness Advice They've Heard

Bad Advice: Don't lift heavy weights, it will bulk you up
 

Bad Advice: Don't lift heavy weights, it will bulk you up

Unfortunately this is still a misconception that’s sometimes communicated to women who fear building "too much" muscle as a result of training with heavy weights. "Women aren’t built the same way that men are," says Minna Herskowitz, a NFPT certified personal trainer and owner of Sandbox Fitness. "Our bodies are different -- we don’t have as much testosterone as men."

Bad Advice: Don't lift heavy weights, it will bulk you up
 

Bad Advice: Don't lift heavy weights, it will bulk you up

She explained that unless you use supplements and significantly increase your caloric intake, lifting weights won’t cause you to gain excessive muscle mass. In fact, all women should consider adding some form of resistance training to their overall exercise routine, as it provides several important health benefits.

Bad Advice: If you lift heavy you'll burn more calories
 

Bad Advice: If you lift heavy you'll burn more calories

Whenever it comes to calories, don’t let anyone tell you how many you’ll burn doing a certain activity or that a certain exercise burns more than another. Calorie burn is extremely individualized based on a number of different factors, meaning everyone burns calories at a different rate. Adria Ali, a NASM certified personal trainer and creator of Fit Tip Daily says whether this advice is true or not, the problem is that it’s dangerous.

Bad Advice: If you lift heavy you'll burn more calories
 

Bad Advice: If you lift heavy you'll burn more calories

"A new gym-goer or someone just getting back in shape is bound to hurt themselves lifting too heavy right off the bat," she said. Instead of worrying about how many calories you’ll burn, focus on exercising safely by starting out at an appropriate level and working your way up to more challenging exercises and weights as you progress.

Bad Advice: If you want to lose weight, just do cardio
 

Bad Advice: If you want to lose weight, just do cardio

"Cardio is an important factor in weight loss," says Ali. "However, lifting weights allows the body to burn more calories at rest and it has a longer after-burn affect." A truly effective weight loss plan will include both cardio and resistance training.

Bad Advice: If you want to lose weight, just do cardio
 

Bad Advice: If you want to lose weight, just do cardio

Resistance training will help to increase your lean muscle mass. This can enhance weight loss efforts because muscle is “metabolically active” tissue, which in order to be maintained demands energy (read: calories) from your body over a longer period of time.

Bad Advice: Do high reps and light weights to get 'toned'
 

Bad Advice: Do high reps and light weights to get 'toned'

"This one always make me cringe," says Saul Juan Antonio Cuautle, a certified personal trainer and the CEO and Founder of MOS Training Systems. "First of all, there is no such thing as 'toning.' When people say the word 'tone,' what they mean is, 'I don’t want big, bulky muscles. I want high levels of muscle definition.'"

Bad Advice: Do high reps and light weights to get 'toned'
 

Bad Advice: Do high reps and light weights to get 'toned'

He explained that this advice is wrong because working with light weights that allow you to easily complete more than about 12 reps won’t elicit enough "muscle activation." "People need to get comfortable selecting heavier weights," Cuautle added, suggesting that you choose weights that, with a slight challenge, allow the completion of about 6 to 12 reps.

Bad Advice: No pain, no gain
 

Bad Advice: No pain, no gain

Within fitness circles and gym culture, the "no pain, no gain" idea has become somewhat of a widely accepted motivational tool. But as Williams points out, it’s actually just bad advice.

Bad Advice: No pain, no gain
 

Bad Advice: No pain, no gain

"While exercising may result in temporary discomfort or a very uncomfortable feeling, it should not leave you with pain,” he said. "Pain is a warning sign from your body that there is something wrong."

Bad Advice: Exercise in fat-burning zone to lose weight
 

Bad Advice: Exercise in fat-burning zone to lose weight

Williams says that staying within the "fat-burning zone" that's often marked on cardio equipment is not required for weight loss. As Jason Karp, PhD, a nationally recognized running and fitness coach and creator of Run-Fit so eloquently explains it, “you don’t need to use fat to lose fat."

Bad Advice: Exercise in fat-burning zone to lose weight
 

Bad Advice: Exercise in fat-burning zone to lose weight

Instead, Williams suggests training at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time, which will burn more calories overall.

Bad Advice: 'Confuse' muscles by constantly switching routine
 

Bad Advice: 'Confuse' muscles by constantly switching routine

"If you change too many exercises too often it’s difficult to actually get better and adapt to any of them,” says Rick Richey, a NASM certified trainer and Master Instructor and owner of Independent Training Spot. "If you want to get stronger, more muscular legs, doing hundreds of different leg exercises will not do you as much good as a well-designed, rehearsed, and repeated routine -- they are called workout routines for a reason."

Bad Advice: 'Confuse' muscles by constantly switching routine
 

Bad Advice: 'Confuse' muscles by constantly switching routine

He recommends making sure that you're not trying so hard to not be in a rut that you end up forgoing a smart path of progression. "Keep a routine consistent so as not to leave it before the results are recognized," Richey added. "Switch it up by using a well establish system of periodization."

Bad Advice: Pick spot on ceiling to look at while squatting
 

Bad Advice: Pick spot on ceiling to look at while squatting

Richey says this was a "rule" he learned when first learning how to work out with his friends. "Sometimes I look back at the gym dogma that I grew up with and try to understand the rationale," he said. "Many folks have an excessive forward lean while squatting and the forward lean can cause the backside to lift before the torso starts to lift, which can place the back in a vulnerable position."

Bad Advice: Pick spot on ceiling to look at while squatting
 

Bad Advice: Pick spot on ceiling to look at while squatting

"The cue to look at a spot on the ceiling was a way to help certain individuals keep their chest up if the forward lean was present." He says this isn't a smart technique to follow because it takes the spine out of a neutral position. "A neutral spine is indicated when squatting, including the cervical spine regardless of a forward lean or not," Richey said. "A neutral spine provides strength to our movements, but it also keeps us in better alignment."

Bad Advice: Don't drink water while working out
 

Bad Advice: Don't drink water while working out

Sarah Bright, a group fitness instructor at Midtown Athletic Club Chicago and co-owner of Bright Fitness, shared a funny story about a client who had been convinced not to drink water while working out because she thought it would extinguish the "fire" that starts in your belly while exercising.

Bad Advice: Don't drink water while working out
 

Bad Advice: Don't drink water while working out

"A woman I trained believed this to be a literal fire that water would quench, and she was certain that the fire was what 'stoked the metabolism.' I think it's pretty obvious why this is terrible advice, but for the record, fires do not begin in the stomach. Go ahead and hydrate during exercise."

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For the complete list of the Worst Fitness Advice, go to TheActiveTimes.com.

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