Writing a list of all the myths associated with health, fitness and working out would take forever. For now I’ll start with the 4 most common that I deal with as a personal trainer almost daily.
These myths have be debunked time and time again, but somehow they still live on…
Go to any gym and you will see floor mats full of people doing 10, 20, 30 mins of ab exercises, all with the hope of losing that onerous belly fat. Unfortunately, they are completely wasting their time. You cannot chose where to lose weight by targeting a specific area, your body decides where it wishes to shed weight first, and unfortunately the stomach is usually last on the list. You cannot 'spot reduce' though you can 'spot build'.
The only way to lose weight is by operating at a caloric deficit, either by eating less than you need or by burning away the excess calories, slowly stripping away your unwanted body fat and revealing your abs beneath.
The best way to burn calories is by doing compound exercises that utilize multiple muscle groups. Your abs are one of the smallest groups and therefore are a terrible workout choice when comes to fat loss.
Long periods of steady state cardio, i.e running, cycling etc have long been the prescription of weight loss experts born out of miss information and fitness industry marketing. Did you know jogging wasn’t ‘a thing’ until the 80’s??
Yep, someone literally invented jogging. Crazy.
Endless amount of cardio will cause you to lose weight, sure, but not necessarily the right type of weight. Cardio training not only burns fat (yay!) but it also catabolizes your muscles (boo!). If that’s ok with you, fine. But think about it for a second. Muscles are what give your body shape, and make you appear ‘toned’. With less muscle you could end up losing weight and being skinny but still look ‘soft’.
Cardio is also not very efficient. You need to undertake long sessions to illicit the same type of results you could get from just 30 mins of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT); basically intense, short bursts of aerobic exercises in circuit training fashion with strict rest periods. The very nature of long cardio sessions teach your body to become more efficient in burning calories, preparing itself for long bouts of sub-maximal exercise. Ultimately, you’ll have to keep running longer and longer to see results. Couple this with the loss of muscle mass, and you have your number one reason why ‘cardio only’ people plateau with their fat loss or actually end up putting on weight.
Weight training and HIIT also have the added benefit of enhancing one of the body’s survival responses called EPOC (Excess post exercise oxygen consumption). EPOC occurs after cardio too, but at nowhere near as high a rate. EPOC is the process your body uses to fuel its muscle repair after an extended period of stress. This process requires energy, and that energy is taken from stored calories in the body. Meaning your body continues to incinerate calories for up to 48 hours post exercise without you needing to do anything. A pretty sweet deal.
The best way to lose weight is with a well balanced training program that includes both weight training and HIIT. If you enjoy steady state cardio, then keep it to short bouts of under 30 minutes at the end of your workout sessions.
First of all, you should be so lucky! Talk to any ‘muscular person’ and they will tell you there’s a lot more to it than lifting heavy weights. You can lift heavy weights all day long but if you are not eating a diet designed to fuel new muscle growth, i.e an inhuman amount a healthy calories, then you will not be walking through doors sideways anytime soon.
It is much easier to lose muscle than lose fat.
Woman especially need not worry. The most important factor in muscle growth is Testosterone, which men have in quantities between 20-30 times that of woman. Weight training is actually the best way to burn fat and get the ‘toned’ look everyone craves – In fact:
“strength training will help you lose weight faster and keep it off in the long run”
notes Jeffrey Janot, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at South Dakota State University. To see any physical change in your body, you need to give it a reason to adapt, if the weight you are using is too easy, there’s no need for your body to adapt and your physique to progress.
Stop doing cardio first! Even just a ‘cheeky 15 minute warm up’ – stop it!
By organizing your workouts with cardio at the beginning you are working against your bodies energy systems and handicapping yourself from the get go.
By doing cardio last, your body uses up its stored energy during the resistance training and is then primed to burn oxygen and fat for fuel during the cardio session.
It’s also a hormonal thing, yo. Slow and steady cardio will deplete your glycogen levels preventing you from training as hard during the weight training portion. Alternatively by hitting the resistance training first, your body releases testosterone, which is hugely beneficial to any workout.
Last but not least by undertaking resistance training when you are fresh, means you can train harder and at maximal effort which will increase the effect of EPOC(Excess post exercise oxygen consumption. The more effort you can expel during your weight training, the more EPOC will occur and the more calories you will burn post workout.
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