Often we are approached by a client who has read or a fitness tip on television which might be a little more fallacy than fact. Here are a few exercise myths to remember the next time you stumble across an infomercial or advertisement making a “too good to be true” statement.
MYTH: MUSCLE “WEIGHS” MORE THAN FAT.
Truth: A pound is a pound is a pound—unless you’re defying the laws of physics. No substance weighs more then another one unless it actually weighs more. Simply put: One pound of fat weighs the same as one pound of muscle. The difference is that fat is bulkier than muscle tissue and takes up more space under the skin. In fact, one pound of fat is roughly the size of a small grapefruit; one pound of muscle is about the size of a tangerine. But that tangerine is active tissue, meaning that it burns more calories at rest than fat does.
MYTH: WEIGHT TRAINING CONVERTS FAT TO MUSCLE.
Truth: This is physically impossible, as fat and muscle tissue are two completely different substances. Exercise such as strength training will help to build muscle, which encourages fat loss by increasing your resting metabolism so you can burn more calories throughout the day. To get a lean look, you need to build muscle through weight training while simultaneously losing fat, but one doesn’t magically become the other.
MYTH: LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS WILL CAUSE WOMEN TO BULK UP.
Truth: Women just don’t produce enough testosterone, the male sex hormone that spurs muscle growth. Lifting weights sometimes gets the blame for adding bulk because if you haven’t yet shed extra body fat, it can give the illusion that you’re getting larger. That being said, muscle will subtly boost your metabolism, so don’t be afraid of those 20-pound dumbbells.
MYTH: YOU CAN WALK OFF EXTRA POUNDS.
Truth: Although walking is good exercise and most Americans don’t do enough of it, if you want to lose a noticeable amount of weight, it’s not the best method since it’s low intensity and doesn’t burn a lot of calories during or afterward. To substantially shrink your belly and keep it flat, you really need to focus on a calorie-controlled diet. Adding in a few extra miles on your feet daily as one part of an overall weight-loss plan is good and good for your health, but that alone probably won’t lead to significant results on the scale.
MYTH: YOU’LL BURN MORE FAT ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.
Truth: The body torches about the same amount of flab whether or not you eat before a workout. But your body also needs fuel in order to perform at its best, build muscle, and burn calories, so you should always eat something light about 30 to 45 minutes before exercise such as a protein shake, yogurt, or a piece of whole-wheat bread with peanut butter.
MYTH: YOU SHOULD DO CARDIO AND STRENGTH ON SEPARATE DAYS.
Truth: There is no scientific reason to keep the two isolated, and you up your chances of hitting your goal by performing them on the same day. And then there’s that whole time-saving perk. We suggest doing a circuit or super-set where you alternate between combo exercises (chest press and rows, shoulder press and squats) and short, high-intensity cardio bursts. Going back and forth like this with minimal rest builds strength and gets your heart rate up even more than a typical half hour on the elliptical or treadmill at moderate pace.
MYTH: LONG AND SLOW CARDIO TRAINING BURNS THE MOST FAT.
Truth: While it’s true that lengthy, slow workouts will use up more fat for energy, they’re not the way to go for fat loss. Instead focus on the total calories burned during and after your workout. Rather than spend 60 minutes plodding on the treadmill, do interval training or higher-intensity exercise for half, or even a quarter of that time, which expends more calories at a faster rate and may increase energy expenditure following your workout.