Do You Know So Much About Fitness You Could Be a Personal Trainer?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Peter Muller/Cultura/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The world of fitness breeds myths and misconceptions like a shower floor breeds mildew (but not the shower floor at your gym -- we're sure they keep that one clean as a whistle). It can be hard to sort out fact from fiction. But don't blame your fellow gym rats! Most people genuinely believe the myths they spread about the strict 45-minute "anabolic window," "eating fat to lose fat," or intermittent fasting. Everyone is genuinely trying to get fit and to help others do so. But listening to bad advice can really set you back.

So, how do you uncover the truth? Our advice: Stick to ideas that have been around for decades, if not centuries, and still haven't been debunked. So far, no one has found a secret downside to eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day, or to a good stretching routine. Strength training, a rising star for several decades now, shows no sign of being dethroned. Its benefits on everything from blood-sugar control to bone health have been well-documented. Just start slow and don't push too hard.

How much have you learned about the world of fitness? Is your brain in as good shape as your abs? We've got a quiz to help you find out! We've checked our advice against reliable sources like WebMD, but feel free to check it against that of your health care provider before putting it into practice. In fact, we encourage that! Be safe out there! 

Identify the exercise that is primarily cardio.

Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise, and it will build muscle in your legs. However, you'll need to put in some time in the weight room to keep your upper body in shape, and to counteract those characteristic slope shoulders of someone who spends a lot of time hunched over the handlebars.


You've started strength training. Which of these would you be least likely to use?

A Bosu ball looks like a Swiss ball cut in half and put on a flat base. It's most often used for balance exercises, as part of a stretching routine. However, you could probably adapt a strength-training exercise to be done on a Bosu ball.


True or false? You should eat fat to lose fat.

Some people have marvelous success with high-fat diets. But the key is, you still have to run a calorie deficit. If you're eating 2,400 calories a day and burning only 1,800, your body will turn the rest into fat -- no matter what. Fat calories do not have any kind of magic pass to get through your system without adding to your body's fat stores.


Which of these objections to the idea that "fat helps you lose weight because you feel fuller" is a valid one?

The research on "keto diets" is ongoing, and remains complex. However, there are some red flags, like the specter of heart attack and stroke risk if dieters don't choose healthy fats. And with lipids having 9 calories per gram compared to 4 for protein or carbs, there's also a potential for overeating, especially during the period before slow-burning fats raise your blood sugar and signal satiety to your brain.


In which form of exercise would you find "asanas"?

Yoga comes from India, and much of its vocabulary is from the Hindi language. So while you'll often hear people refer to "poses" in yoga, the traditional term is "asana." (Don't confuse it with sweating out toxins in a small, pine-paneled room.)


Your body's central muscles that contribute greatly to balance are your what?

Core is a gym term so, you don't really hear the word in a doctor's office. That doesn't mean it's not valid, though. Core exercises are very important for balance and stability, and increasingly needed as you age.


Indoor cycling is also known by what name?

The name "spinning" was coined by Johnny Goldberg, a South African competitive cyclist who elevated the use of indoor stationary bikes to a new level, using equipment that resembled a racing bicycle and creating classes with music. Though used interchangeably with "indoor cycling," "spinning" is actually a trademarked term.


True or false? Switching up your exercise routine generally isn't beneficial.

Cross-training keeps your body "on its toes," so to speak; the challenge is good for you. Sticking to one exercise regimen for too long, on the other hand, can lead to diminishing returns as your body gets used to it and isn't challenged.


Running is what type of exercise?

People think of running as good aerobic exercise, and they're right. However, sprinting is anaerobic, putting a great demand on muscles and producing lactic acid. That's why, like other forms of anaerobic exercise, it can't be sustained for a long time.


Which of these is a downside to using free weights instead of machines?

Weight machines have a limited range of motion; the correct exercise is sort of "programmed in" to how the machine is built. With free weights, there are no such limitations, allowing the user to extend past a healthy range of motion and injure himself or herself.


Which of these is NOT true of weight training?

A better way to say this is probably, "Be careful when asking for advice." Some lifters know what they're doing, but others learned the wrong way from someone else who learned the wrong way, and ... well, you see the problem. If necesssary, book a session with a personal trainer.


When is the best time to stretch?

Some of you might be surprised that "stretch before your workout" is no longer the reigning advice. That's because your muscles are too "cold" to stretch effectively then, and pushing too far into a stretch at that point can lead to discomfort or injury. It's important to warm up or start exercising slowly. But don't stretch until after the workout's done.


"Aerobic" and "anaerobic" exercise are both terms that refer, in different ways, to what?

In aerobic exercise, the body works at a more-or-less steady state and requires a steady supply of oxygen at higher levels than it does at rest. It's a term closely related to "cardio." Anaerobic exercise is one with an intense, short burst of power -- weightlifting is a good example -- that doesn't require as much oxygen.


How many reps (repetitions) make up a set?

In lifting, a set is however many reps adequately challenge you. For some reason, many weightlifters favor sets of even numbers: 10, 12, 18. Pro tip: To be left alone at the gym, tell people you always do sets of eleven, then defend it with a complicated numerological theory about prime numbers being best for gains. People will thereafter let you work out in peace.


To gain muscle, you should do reps until what point?

"Muscle failure" means that the body part being exercised feels a little wobbly, and you can't keep good form. It *doesn't* mean to keep going until you let the weight crash to the ground (or back down onto the other weight on the rack, in the case of a weight machine). Despite the drastic name, muscle failure is a good thing for gains.


If you're combining cardio with a lifting routine, when is the best time to do it?

Some fitness buffs have theories about this, and they'll staunchly defend their decision to do cardio before or after weights. But there's no good evidence that one is a better choice than the other.


Which of these forms of exercise might be best for someone with joint problems?

Swimming, in which the body is supported by water and motions are fluid, is a good form of exercise for people with joint pain. The other three are weight-bearing exercises, some with sudden movements, that wouldn't be appropriate. Of course, this is assuming the person in question has mild joint issues. For more severe forms like rheumatoid arthritis, a doctor's advice is needed before starting any exercise program.


To ensure muscle gain, how soon after lifting must you eat or drink something protein-rich?

Beware the Cult of Supplementation! Its followers are everywhere, their blenders constantly awhirr with the makings of protein shakes, stopwatches at the ready to tell you that you've missed the "anabolic window." Don't believe it: Getting a good mix of protein, carbs and fat at regular intervals throughout the day will serve you just as well.


What muscle group(s) do squats train?

Squats are a leg exercise. The main muscle groups they work are the quadriceps (in the upper leg) and the gluteals (your rear end). How you perform a squat will affect where most of the effort takes place, so practice your form carefully for best results.


If you want both cardio and an upper body workout, which might you try?

Many pieces of stationary cardio equipment focus on the lower body: The classic stationary bike, the treadmill, the elliptical (despite the moving hand-grips). But a rowing machine works your chest muscles, while getting your heart rate up, too.


Fill in the blanks on this classic piece of advice: "Muscle is gained at the ____; weight is lost at the ____."

"Muscle is gained at the gym; weight is lost at the table." Keep this phrase in the forefront of your mind, and you'll never go wrong. What it means, essentially, is that only by controlling eating do you control weight. We might add, to the first half, that "cardiovascular fitness" is also gained at the gym, not just muscle.


Where would you find your trapezius muscles?

The trapezius muscle runs from the back of the neck through the upper back. Exercises that give it a workout include deadlifts, dead rows, and "lat pulldowns," though the last primarily focuses on the latissimus dorsi, as the name implies.


What muscles would you find just below the trapezius?

This name might remind you of geometry class, and there's a reason. The rhomboid muscles have a roughly parallelogram-like shape, like the rhombus. The rhomboid muscles benefit from all the back exercises: deadlifts, clean-and-press, etc.


Which of these yoga practices might be called "power yoga"?

Ashtanga yoga is physically challenging, and deserving of the Westernized term, "power yoga." Vinyasa is an outgrowth of Ashtanga, but focuses more on a flow of one pose to another, creating a type of aerobic exercise.


If you are exercising your deltoid muscles, what part of your body is getting toned?

Exercises like the "clean and press" can develop your shoulder muscles. Then, once it's nice and round and defined, go out and get a gorgeous sunflower tattoo to show it off! (At least, that's what we'd do, if we had great delts).


One of these exercises is not usually incorporated into CrossFit. Which is it?

A CrossFitter wouldn't be caught dead just walking, no matter how speedily! CrossFit (another trademarked name that is quickly becoming generic) is a mix of high-intensity floor exercises, heavy weightlifting, calisthenics and more. It has been criticized for its high rate of injury.


The word "muscle" comes from a Latin word meaning what?

What?! Yes, it's true! "Musculus" means "little mouse" in Latin. It's not clear how the word came to be applied to muscles -- it's possibly due to how the muscles look moving under the skin. However, it certainly isn't very inspiring when you're getting ready to lift!


What is the strongest muscle in the body?

Isn't this "news you can't use" when it comes to fitness? No one goes to the gym to work out their jaw! But it's a fascinating piece of trivia nonetheless, and one that might have its roots in evolution. Maybe our survival depended less on raw strength and more on our ability to chew up tough, seemingly inedible things!


One of these is not a type of yoga. Which is it?

This one was probably tricky, we know, because all the words above are from Hindi, the language associated with yoga, which is itself East Indian in origin. But "manipura" is the name of one of the chakras, the third chakra near the solar plexus.


Bikram yoga is a formal name for what many people call _________.

In Bikram yoga, you'll practice in a studio that has been heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. There's often a humidifier at work. This is to help you break a sweat. Or you could just move to Georgia and do your yoga outside.


If, after starting a workout regimen, you experience muscle hypertrophy, what should you do?

"Hypertrophy" sounds scary, but don't worry -- it just means growth! Weightlifters call this "gains," or, for maximum effect, "sick gains!" How much hypertrophy you can experience will depend on factors like your age and sex, as well as your diet.


You are performing exercises that focus on breathing, core stability and balance, but it's not yoga. What are you doing?

Yoga and Pilates are often mentioned in the same breath. If you think of Pilates as "yoga without the philosophical element," that's not entirely true. Joseph Pilates, who created it, considered Pilates to be a mental-health exercise, with focus on the breath and finding the body's "center."


"Plyometrics" is a type of exercise involving what?

Plyometrics uses repeated jumping (often onto a box or platform), to increase an athlete's explosive power. It was pioneered by Russian trainers, but the name was coined by an American Olympic athlete who observed Russian athletes doing plyometrics in their warm-ups.


In 2007, the U.S. Surgeon General and the AMA launched a program called "Exercise is ______."

The "Exercise is Medicine" initiative calls for doctors, physicians' assistants and other healthcare providers to ask every patient about their activity levels. It also recommends writing an "exercise prescription" when appropriate. Hey, we're on board!


A good exercise regimen has three components. Which of these is NOT one of them?

Sudoku is great exercise -- for your brain! We certainly don't want to tell you *not* to do these Japanese puzzles. But a good gym regimen is a "tripod," with cardio, strength training and stretching.


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