Exercise will improve your health and can help you lose unwanted pounds. These are not fallacies, but facts, according to organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. However, there is much confusion regarding how exercise affects the body and the best ways or methods to lose weight. You need to expose the fallacies and learn the facts in order to get the most out of your workouts.
Many people believe that if you want to shrink a specific area of your body, you need to exercise specifically for that body part. Unfortunately, this is not true. If you have excess body fat around your abdominal area, doing hundreds of repetitions of different ab exercises will not decrease the fat covering your mid-section. You need to perform cardiovascular exercise to decrease body fat from your entire body, then perform exercises to strengthen and tone your muscles.
Another common concept in exercise is that of the fat-burning zone during cardiovascular exercise. Some people believe that you should perform low- to moderate-intensity exercise if you want to lose weight because you are burning fat. In low-intensity exercise, the percentage of fat is higher, while the higher your intensity, the more carbohydrate you burn. However, you burn more total calories and more from fat when you work out harder.
For example, say you burn 200 calories during a low-intensity workout and 60 percent, or 120, are from fat. If you exercise at a high intensity, you may burn 400 calories and 35 percent, or 140, are from fat. Overall, you will burn more total and fat calories exercising at a higher intensity.
Weight Training and Big Muscles
Women are often told to avoid resistance, or weight, training because they will get big muscles and look bulky. This is false. In general, it is harder for women to add muscle to their bodies, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Training for muscular size, or hypertrophy, is very specific and takes a lot of time and planning. Performing resistance exercise two to three days per week will not give you big muscles, but a toned and lean physique.
Cardio and Weight Loss
Another common fallacy is that if you are overweight and want to lose weight, you should do cardio and skip the weights. Cardiovascular exercise is the major component of a weight-loss and fitness program. It burns a lot of calories and is essential for weight loss. However, resistance training adds lean muscle tissue to your body. Muscle is metabolically-active, so the more you have, the higher your metabolism. This means you burn more calories even at rest. Resistance training should be done two to three days per week as part of your weight-loss exercise program for the best results.
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine": 2010
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Weight-Control Information Network: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
- Frederick Memorial Hospital: The Fat Burning Zone Myth