There’s a lot of lore out there about best practices for fitness routines.  And while there are many different opinions on how to get fit, stay fit, bulk up or slim down, fitness experts will agree that these 5 myths about working out will slow down progress and make goals harder to reach.

Myth # 1 – Weight loss only comes from cardio

It’s true that cardio will burn more calories than lifting weights, but weight lifting also plays a significant role in weight loss.

After an intense weight lifting session, your metabolism will stay elevated in a fat-burning period. Weight lifting also builds muscle, which helps your body burn more calories at rest. If you’re trying to lose weight, we recommend starting your workout with weight training and to finish off with a cardio session.

Myth # 2 – Working out on an empty stomach is better

While it’s not dangerous to work out on an empty stomach, you’ll get far better results if your body has energy to burn. Eating a combination of carbs, protein and healthy fats 2-3 hours before your workout will equip your muscles with the fuel it needs to work, heal and grow.

Just as important, keeping your body fueled up will help your mind stay focused – and driven – during your workout.  Pushing through the final reps of the final set of your final exercise is a matter of the mind just as much as is it a matter of the body – equip yourself to improve your chances of success.

Myth # 3 – Stretch before your workout

Static stretching, like touching your toes, isn’t proven to reduce chance of injury or reduce soreness after a workout.  Warming up your muscles with movement and gradually increasing the intensity is the best way to prep your muscles for your workout.  Once your muscles are warm (the whole point of a warm up), you can begin your workout routine confidently.

Not only does stretching before your workout take time away from your workout (while producing few benefits), it takes away from valuable cardio time that’s essential for both fat burn and muscle growth.

Myth # 4 – Heavy lifting will make women bulky

Weight training to see significant bulking is an immense undertaking and will be achieved after a long-term concerted effort.  While you may start to see definition in a few weeks, bulking up will involves more than just the weights lifted – proper nutrition is required for a bodybuilder’s physique.  Women also have a different hormone profile as men and have a very difficult time gaining enough lean mass to look bulky.

Sticking to light weights and “toning up” will be a detriment because you’ll be missing out on the benefits of lifting heavier weights.  Keep lifting heavier weights because it will improve weight loss and improvement in stamina. Remember, muscle growth does not equate to a bulky look.

Myth # 5 – Lifting heavier weights will always make you stronger

While it’s true that lifting heavier weights will increase the stamina and strength of your muscles, this is only true when you are lifting with proper form. You might be able to curl that massive dumbbell, but if you begin to rely on additional muscles (like your back or legs), you’re not only decreasing your muscle growth, you’re increasing your chances of injury.

You definitely want to push yourself and work your muscles, but no matter the exercise, no matter the muscle, no matter the workout – lifting a lighter weight correctly is better for your progress than lifting heavier weights incorrectly.

Keep your weights honest, your reps steady and controlled, and you will continue to see progress.  Soon enough, you’ll be able to move on to those heavier weights.