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Five firm fitness 'rules' that need a closer look

Fitness advice and trends come and go, but which ones can you trust?

Fitness advice and trends come and go, but which ones can you trust? Here are five "rules" you should second-guess and why:

Exercise should not hurt
Yes, it should -- though safely and with moderation. If you don't challenge yourself during each and every workout, you won't achieve results. Period. Try to mix high-intensity bursts into your cardio or switch-up your weight training to target other muscle groups. The more you go past your comfort zone, the harder your body has to work to torch unwanted fat and build lean muscle.

Squats will make your legs bulky
Not so, and here's why: Squats will make your legs stronger, and muscle takes up less room than fat. If you find your legs are getting bigger, try changing up your diet to include fewer empty calorie snacks (processed foods) and add more protein. Try also alternating the kind of squats you do to avoid overuse. For example mix plies with traditional dumbbell squats.

Protein supplements are for body builders only
Protein is the building block for muscle. It's also a natural metabolism booster, proven to speed weight loss and decrease fat cells more efficiently. What's more, your body doesn't use protein as a main energy source, relying on carbs and fat instead. Hence, most bodybuilders include high amounts in their diets.

Running is bad for your bones
Pavement may not be the softest of surfaces, but running is a weight-bearing exercise, which studies show increases bone density and reduces risk of osteoporosis. Make sure to choose the right footwear and consult with a sports therapist if you experience pain or discomfort. Start off slowly and gradually increase your running mileage to avoid injury.

Yoga is good for stretching only
Yes it is, but it's also great for posture and toned muscles. Try doing a series of five to 10 downward dogs, for example. Your triceps, core and legs get a great workout. Other traditional yoga moves such as planks and standing tree can be very beneficial for strength and endurance. Whether you're an athlete or not, make room for yoga and experience its many benefits.

Larry Track is a leading fitness trainer, owner of TRACK Fitness in Toronto, Ontario, and contributing expert. Find more healthy news at DailySqueeze.ca.

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