Everyone sure has an opinion about the right ways to lose weight, build muscle and get fit, don't they? And that's OK. To each their own. But there are some things out there that people believe and they shouldn't. So once and for all, we're going to bust some common fitness myths right here, right now. You ready?
Myth 1: I can "spot-reduce" the fat off my body.
BUSTED: The truth is, you cannot spot-reduce any area of your body. If it were possible, you'd see every fitness professional in the gym working their clients in their abs or love handles. Every individual stores fat in different areas … your body makes that choice for you. Your body also chooses where to lose that body fat once you start losing weight. But, don't worry. With the proven combination of a progressive cardio program, resistance training and a healthy diet, each 'problem' area will join in solidarity to become your 'positive' areas and you will love the WHOLE new you!
Myth 2: Weight training will make me bulky.
BUSTED: This myth still survives today among women because of the "type" of weight training prevalent in the '80s and '90s, when bodybuilding, neon clothing and slinging heavy weights were like, totally awesome, bro. Exercise physiology and the science of resistance training has come a long way since then. Now you can weight train using your own body weight, resistance bands, TRX suspenstion training, kettlebells, a Reformer (hello, Pilates) and so much more! Plus, we've learned that the more lean muscle mass you have the more calories you will burn while at rest (and lean muscle makes you look better naked!). A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, but it sure looks better on the body! Besides, to the still skeptical ladies out there, high levels of very specific hormones are necessary for muscles to get all Arnold Schwarzenegger-ed out!
Myth 3: I can crunch my way to flat abs.
BUSTED: One reason this myth became popular in the first place is all those ads over the years featuring exercise gimmicks and gizmos that purportedly reduced inches around the waistline by merely performing an abdominal crunch. The only result you'll get from performing abdominal exercises is a stronger core, which, although very important for core stability and protecting the lower back, does not accomplish the goal of reducing inches.
So, while crunches and other abdominal exercises can help strengthen your core, they will not blast that pesky spare tire or muffin top residing in the subcutaneous layer of tissue called the hypodermis. The hypodermis lies on top of the abdominals and will "hide" the muscle's appearance. Belly fat is stored energy, so to rid yourself of this excess fat, burning more calories than you intake is essential. Achieving a flat tummy requires a three-part commitment (beyond that, you may want to consider taking thermogenics):
- A healthy, nutritious whole foods diet of lean meats, lots of veggies, healthy fats and whole grains. (Abs are made in the kitchen!)
- Full-body strength training as well as crunches and other ab exercises. Sprinkle in some HIIT cardio as well.
- Be consistent. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Myth 4: I'm too old to have a firm stomach or muscled legs.
BUSTED: Most people lose muscle mass because they stop exercising and have become sedentary, not just because they are older. There is no reason why you can't improve the strength, flexibility, and overall appearance of your body no matter how old you are. In fact, there are women in their 70s who compete in bikini fitness shows, some of whom just started weight training a few years prior! You can add muscle mass to some degree or another, no matter what your age is. Another key to preserving muscles is to feed them regularly with a quality protein supplement.
Myth 5: Exercise will turn my fat into muscle.
BUSTED: Muscle and fat are two types of tissue in your body. One type of tissue cannot turn into another type. What actually happens is your body burns fat through exercise. At the same time, exercise done correctly improves your muscle tone. So instead of weak muscles covered by thick, lumpy fat, you have strong lean muscles with a thin layer of fat.
Myth 6: A 20-minute walk will change my body shape.
BUSTED: Walking 20 minutes a day 5 to 6 days a week to "be in shape" does work if you want to lead a longer, healthier life. Your heart, lungs, muscles and joints will be healthier. However, you will not lose large amounts of weight, strengthen muscles and make them look better. To change your body shape, you're going to have to create a plan and work harder than walking. This plan should incorporate dietary changes, weight lifting and more cardiovascular training.
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