Debunking rumors, lies and myths is a large part of my job as Dr. Fitness radio personality and President and founder of Fitness Pursuits, Inc. Why? Because I hear endless questions like: If I purchase one of those ab machines I see on late night infomercials will that make my stomach flatter? Or, "if I lift light weights and perform a lot of repetitions per set will that get me a defined body like Kate Moss?"
Then there’s my personal favorite, “if I just eat a lot less won’t I lose weight?” I absolutely love what I do helping people get the fitness result they haven’t been able to achieve on their own and I’m passionate about it. However, one of the problems in our society is that we hear of certain concepts, products and methods and we simply assume that they’ll work.
It’s important to ask not only, “What is my goal,” but also: “Will this work”? “Does it make sense”? “Is it safe?”
You don't have to be owner of at personal training firm or radio fitness expert to answer these questions. All it takes is a small amount of knowledge about the way the human body works. Sometimes it’s good to experiment with unorthodox methods, however, there are some things that are simply dangerous, yet people continue to believe they work.
Here is my top 10 fitness “myths” that prevented clients I’ve worked with for the last 20 years from lowering their body fat:
1. Lifting lighter weights will make your muscles more defined and toned. FALSE!
Muscle responds to overload. If you lift heavier weight with sufficient intensity, you will create more microscopic tears in the muscle. When the muscle recuperates, it will become tighter and stronger.
However, your supplemental nutrition must support your workouts. Reduced body fat is what creates the “lean and tight” look, not high reps (15 plus reps). Reduced body fat is a result of efficient weight training, proper amounts of cardiovascular exercise and nutrition that places one in somewhat of a calorie deficit (less than maintenance). That’s how you get defined and toned!
2. A lot of cardio is the most efficient way to lose body fat. FALSE!
Excessive cardio will strip muscle and body fat. This is definitely not the most efficient method to lose body fat. Once you begin stripping muscle tissue, your body becomes less efficient at burning body fat. Muscle is metabolically active, which simply means it stimulates the metabolism.
For each pound of muscle you put on your body, you will burn up to 50 additional calories per day. If you strip muscle tissue, all you accomplish is sabotaging your efforts to efficiently reduce body fat. The PROPER amount of cardio to accomplish your goal is what’s necessary!
3. A woman will get muscles as big as guy if she lifts heavier weight. FALSE!
This myth never seems to die. A woman has approximately one third of the testosterone of a man. Unless she is on anabolic steroids, growth hormone or other enhancing drugs, a woman will never achieve the muscular size of a man. However, she can get a degree of muscularity that makes her lean, toned and tight.
4. Calories are the only thing that counts when trying to lose body fat or gain lean muscle. FALSE!
Ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats are also important. The key in losing body fat and getting lean is controlling and manipulating insulin levels. In simple terms, when we consume excessive calories or excessive amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates at one meal, the body’s blood sugar rises. When this happens, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to lower the blood sugar levels.
One of the many drawbacks of this happening excessively is, along with putting you at risk for diabetes, the body also holds onto stored body fat! A balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats works most efficiently in losing fat and gaining lean tissue. However, this too becomes tricky, because each of us tends to respond best to certain dietary programs. You may experience great success with Atkins plan, The Zone, South Beach or possibly our own Fitness Pursuits nutrition program. Some of our have experienced good success with one program only to change programs and experience even greater success due to the ratio change!
5. Muscle weighs more than fat. FALSE!
If I place one pound of muscle on a scale and one pound of fat on a scale, they will both weigh one pound. The difference is in total volume! One pound of muscle may appear to be the size of a baseball; one pound of fat will be three times the size and look like a squiggly bowl JELL-O.
6. There is one perfect workout routine. FALSE!
There is no “best and only way” to workout. I receive a multitude of questions concerning what is the best cardio machine, the best exercise tape, the best routine to work the butt and so on. In reality, it’s all good if it works for you, but you don’t want to stay with any of it for too long. The body will adapt to any exercise routine in 4-6 weeks and the mind will experience boredom if you stay with the same routine for too long of a time. Vary volume of sets, time between sets, reps, exercises, cardio, dance tapes, videos, etc. Manipulate your routine every 3-4 weeks and view CHANGE as the key constant that will lead you to success.
7. The best way to lose fat is to eat very few calories. FALSE!
Always consider your body from the inside out. Your body’s main objective is to survive. It doesn’t care if you want to lose body fat. In fact, it would prefer to increase fat in case of famine. Internally, the body has no idea that it’s the year 2003. It could still be 10,000 years ago for all it cares. Survival is its number one objective.
If you eat very little (less than 1,200 calories), the body perceives an emergency and will accommodate you by holding onto stored body fat. As well it should, because it has no idea when it will be fed again. If you’re an Fitness Pursuits client, you know exactly what Im talking about and are enjoying your fat loss without starving yourself.
8. The best way to reduce the hips, glutes or abs is to perform exercise to isolate the area. FALSE!
It is physiologically impossible to spot reduce. You can’t lose only in one area of the body because body fat comes off all over the body. Typically, the first place you tend to gain is the last place you lose. Doesn’t Mother Nature have a wonderful sense of humor? Again, the route to success for those stubborn hips is resistance exercise, cardio and supplemental nutrition.
9. The best way to lose fat is to eat a lot of calories. FALSE!
Just as you don’t want to eat too little, you don’t want to eat too much. Duhh! I know this is a no-brainer, but the big message in the nutrition and personal training world today is that most people need to eat more to stimulate the metabolism. The truth is you need the CORRECT AMOUNT of total calories to lose body fat, not simply more food!
10. The infomercial that has that cool looking, easy-to-use abdominal machine will help me to get a flat stomach. FALSE!
If you only knew how much those late-night infomercials frustrate me! The infomercials barely mention nutrition when attempting to sell their miracle ab machine of the month. Nutrition is a huge component of attaining a flatter stomach! That is why Fitness Pursuits has a variety of nutrition and exercise programs. Because change does works! The key to a flatter stomach is proper nutrition, resistance exercise to increase muscle tissue and cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories. Sensing a theme here? Its all about balance and consistency.
I hope you find these points helpful. Now that you have some newly found knowledge just remember to bite your tongue when someone spouts out a fitness fallacy. With tact and patience, share your knowledge and help spread the word or have them contact me for free support. For more information text the Dr. Fitness Helpline 904.236.5858