With all the information available about fitness and exercise, it can be very difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. I will be going over the top 5 exercise myths and explain why they are fiction and not fact.
1. Low intensity cardio burns more fat
This myth comes from the fact that during the initial phase of cardiovascular exercise, your body uses carbohydrates for energy. Approximately 20 minutes into your workout, fat becomes the preferred source of energy. However, the most important thing to focus on when doing cardiovascular exercise is total energy expenditure. Instead of worrying about how many calories you are burning from fat, focus on how many calories you burn overall. Basically, the harder you work, the more calories you will burn, period. So don't be afraid to pick up the pace and increase your intensity.
2. Lifting weights makes women bulky
Sadly, this myth keeps a lot of women out of the weight room. The truth of the matter is that men have more testosterone, which makes it easier for them to build muscle. Even female bodybuilders often are on steroids and are in the gym for long hours on most days to look the way they do. Even if you are one the women who do naturally put on muscle, you can always lose some of it if you want to. Remember that although cardio burns calories during exercise, weight training will contribute to increasing your metabolism and, therefore, you will burn more calories even when you are sleeping.
3. Spot reduction
One of the most common requests I get from my female clients is to reduce fat from their thighs and abdomen. Men usually want to reduce their “beer gut”. Fat is stored throughout the body and will be lost all over as well. We are all genetically predisposed to storing more fat in certain areas. You cannot change your genetics. What you can do is reduce your overall body fat by being consistent with your cardio and resistance (weight) training and limiting your caloric intake.
4. Working out takes too much time
Most people simply do not have the time to spend two hours at the gym, five days a week. The good news is that you don't have to. If your exercise sessions are well structured and intense, chances are you will be better off then the person next to you who is watching television or reading the newspaper during their two-hour workout.
5. Lots of crunches=Great Abs
You could have the best “6-pack” in the world, but if it is covered by a layer of fat, it won't do you much good. This brings us back to regular exercise and a sensible nutrition plan. There is no getting around this unless you are one of those lucky people who are naturally skinny (ectomorphs). Don't forget, however, that skinny does not equal healthy.
One more thing about abdominals: having well defined abs may be aesthetically pleasing, but having a strong core is a more functional and useful goal. Incorporating the exercise ball and/or the BOSU ball into your workouts will help you achieve this goal.
Marsha Regis, CPT
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