Fitness Myths – Separating Fact From Fiction

Whether you are looking to drop 10-15 pounds of fat or add 10-15 pounds of lean muscle mass, it’s important to first come to grips with some of the biggest lies/myths in the fitness industry. Otherwise you may end up wasting your valuable time and could even damage your long-term health.

For starters, the myth/belief that muscle turns to fat is totally erroneous.

Myth 1:

Muscle never turns to fat.

They are two totally, separate types of tissue. Just as your heart is different from your liver and you wouldn’t worry that it could become your liver, your muscle cannot turn into fat. It would be like watching an apple convert to an orange right before your eyes. Not going to happen.

So, what does happen to someone who was once very muscular and fit but stops working out? If muscle does not turn to fat as many believe, then why does their once fit and trim body now appear fat, flabby and unhealthy?

The reality is much worse than turning to fat. Muscle is not being converted to fat, it is being lost. It is literally, wasting away.

Because the body uses a lot of energy maintaining lean muscle mass (which is why having more muscle is great for preventing fat gain), when the body believes it no longer needs to maintain muscle mass, it eliminates it. Whatever muscle mass is not being stressed (used), starts catabolizing (breaking down).

Muscles shrink from non-use and fat pockets grow bigger. Soon, what was once an attractive, trim, fit body now appears flabby and fat. It is really that simple.

Because muscle burns more calories than fat, whenever workout habits change or slow down, changes in diet must follow. If diets are not adjusted to align with a less active lifestyle, if food intake remains the same but total calorie expenditure decreases, guess what? The excess surplus of calories (that are no longer being burned through activity) gets converted into body fat.

It’s pretty simple science – when you exercise less, you burn fewer calories and therefore, you must eat less.

The good news is, it only takes about 60 minutes of strength training weekly at the gym (or your preferred strength training workout) to maintain muscle once it’s built. It takes far less effort to maintain muscle once it’s built than it did to build it in the first place.

Myth 2:

Exercising daily is optimal. Wrong.

Many people believe that if they fail to see the progress they are after, it’s because they are not training hard (or long) enough so they immediately start pushing their body harder which is the exact opposite of what should be happening.

Every time you train your muscles hard (at the gym or elsewhere), you are creating micro damage to the muscle tissue and time is needed for this to be rebuilt to withstand the same level of force once again. If the time and energy needed to do this is not provided, muscles won’t get stronger and in fact can cause loss of valuable muscle mass.

Reality – when actively working out, the body requires and needs rest days in a well-planned protocol to have the time needed to get stronger than it was before. Ideally, one day off a week should be allowed, if not two. But, even that is not hard science. Some people require more. In fact, three to four days rest for beginner trainees or those who do intense training is not at all uncommon.

Remember, as the intensity of your workouts go up, your total rest required to recover from that workout will also increase.

It’s very important to recognize when it’s time to work harder and when it’s time to rest. Understanding the difference and giving your body exactly what it needs is what gets you to that end goal.

Honor your workout, but balance it with rest.

Myth 3:

Cardio is a great way to get thinner – False.

Cardio – (referencing steady state cardio sessions) – the workouts that people dread yet do daily after hitting the gym. Jumping on a piece of cardio equipment and going at one pace for 20-60 minutes.

These workouts do very little for anyone. What these extended cardio workouts achieve is to increase the appetite, causing us to eat more. In fact, many people, who are classic “cardio bunnies,” report ravenous appetites that just won’t go away.

Cardio training can even cause loss of lean muscle mass. When the body knows it must go for long periods of time at a moderate intensity pace, it does what it can to be more efficient. Since muscle tissue is energy-intensive to maintain, it is better for your body if you have less of it.

Couple this with the fact that many are on a lower calorie diet while doing cardio and now you have a body ready and willing to drop lean muscle. So, fat is not really being lost in the process, but rather, lean muscle.

The body may appear smaller after months of cardio workouts because of lost weight, but, unfortunately, it is due to an unhealthy, change in body composition. The body now contains more fat mass in proportion to lean muscle mass and the result is not pretty. The look is soft, jiggly, and anything but fit.

If you’re looking to create a fit, lean, firm body, cardio training is not the way to get there. Strength training is the only thing empowered to reverse unhealthy, muscle loss.

Women’s Fitness Central – 3 Key Concepts For Body Shaping Women Must Apply to Achieve Their Goal

In an attempt to get fit, reshape your body, and meet your goals, there are key components in your womens fitness program that need to be applied.  Unfortunately, most of the myths we hear about today go against these basic concepts.  However, despite the misconceptions that have been passed down through the generations, the 3 components of body shaping women need to apply to get the body shape you want are listed below.

But before covering the 3 key components, it’s important to realize that in body shaping women need to find a program that allow two things to occur.  One is that you add muscle.  The second is that you lose fat.  The two activities go hand in hand and your results will be minimized if one action is achieved and the other is not.  If you just lose fat and do not do anything to increase muscle, essentially you get the benefit of the bean pole look and that doesn’t offer much shape to your figure.  (Of course you could then be the lucky one called on frequently to squeeze into tight confined spaces.)  If you build muscle but don’t lose fat, then you can enjoy the sumo wrestler appearance.  And well…in picturing that shape, I personally do want to look in the mirror and see a marshmallow staring back at me.  Remembering the concepts below will help you avoid this fate.

  • Lift heavy weight – Most women when asked about their goals always state that they want to get toned but don’t want to bulk up.  Here is the good news…women don’t bulk up.  It takes extreme concentrated effort, very specific targeted training, and typically illegal supplementation (IE: steroids) for a women to actually gain any muscle bulk.  Now this is not to say that you won’t build muscle because that is the purpose of resistance training.  However, the extent to which you build that muscle is limited.  Besides, if you are looking to do a little body shaping women need to add a little muscle as part of that.  So lift the weight, push yourself, and see how heavy you can go.   
  • High intensity cardio – There’s a deceitful little button on most cardio machines that’s labeled “fat burning mode”.  It’s deceitful because its label implies that by working out in that mode you are actually accomplishing a lot more than you really are.  It’s a nice easy pace with little effort.    The truth is that it takes 2 to 3 times longer to burn the same amount of calories using the fat burning mode as it does when you work out at a moderately high intensity for 30 minutes.  If you want to make cardio exercise worth your time and get some real benefit from your work, you need to put in some effort…push yourself, elevate the intensity, raise your heart rate, and above all AVOID the fat burning mode. 
  • You can’t out train your diet – The bottom line to any womens fitness program is that the diet plays the biggest role in body shaping women.  And for any significant changes to occur, calories need to be cut.  Although most of the time I wish there was another way, the truth is that you have to makes changes in your nutrition habits and reduce your caloric intake.  Maintaining your same habits in taking calories into your body and continually attempting to add more time to your workout to cause a caloric deficit may have some very short term benefits.  But in the long run, your time, energy, or body will run out long before your goal is reached.  Consider this; to work off the extra slice of cheese pizza you had at lunch, you’ll have to run on the treadmill for an extra ½ hour at a moderately hard pace.  Now I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to have to spend any more time exercising than I have to.  Keeping that in mind, I personally think twice about whether I really want or need that second slice. 

Apply these keys in your women’s fitness program to start your body shaping women. Working with these concepts will have your body refined and redesigned in no time.