Fitness Fables

Experts weigh in on what's true and what's not

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

The world of fitness abounds with fables, from no pain, no gain, to drinking water before exercising can give you cramps, and falling for one could have you spinning your wheels and getting nowhere instead of shaping up. Experts set the record straight and take the mystery out of these and other muscular myths for WebMD so you can make the most of your exercise routine.

No Pain, No Gain. "No pain, no gain is bad," says Jeffrey Berg, an orthopedic surgeon and team physician for the Washington Redskins. "When people start to exercise, there may be some muscle aches and pains, which are normal. But there are other aches and pains, such as joint pain, bone pain, muscle strains, and ligament or tendon strains, which are bad, and you should back off of because they'll get worse if you ignore them."

So start slow, explains Berg.

"Always ease into an exercise plan to avoid injury," says Berg. "The recommendation is if you're healthy and you know it, you can start exercising, but err on the side of being too slow than too fast to avoid injury."

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends starting an exercise program slowly and listening to your body and to your doctor.

There Is One Best Way to Exercise. "This is not true," says Berg. "In fact, not only is there not one best way for everyone to exercise, but there's not one best way for each person."