As a former fat girl, I feel like I know everything about diets and workouts and all the latest fads and trends ... because I tried them all. For the novice person trying to get in shape and get fit, it can be really overwhelming. The following article debunks many common fitness myths, and I'll be honest - I'm guilty of a few of them! Okay, in all honesty, I've been guilty of ALL of them LOL
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"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves - self-discipline with all of them came first." Harry S. Truman
Top Fitness Myths Demystified
When it comes to getting in shape, losing weight and toning up, the conventional wisdom can sometimes be a little weak. Here, Jan Wyche, a certified personal trainer with Chelsea Piers Sports Center gives you the real skinny on some of the most common fitness myths out there.
Myth 1: Stretching is Essential
Research shows that stretching before exercise actually increases your chance of getting injured and may decrease your workout performance. According to Wyche, the best way to prepare your body for physical activity is with a three to five minute warm-up of easy walking, light cycling or gentle movement.
Myth 2: Muscle Turns Into Fat
"Fat and muscle are two totally separate types of tissue. They aren't interchangeable," says Wyche. People get fat when they stop working out because they continue to eat the same amount but burn off fewer calories. As a result, their unused muscles grow soft while they simultaneously gain excess body fat.
Myth 3: Stay Skinny With Diet Alone
You can lose weight simply by cutting back on calories. But combining exercise with diet will help you lose weight more quickly. More importantly, it will help you keep the pounds off permanently. The majority of participants in the National Weight Control Registry (a survey of thousands of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for years) report that a consistent exercise program is one of their key weight maintenance strategies.
Myth 4: Long and Slow to Zap Fat
Wyche claims that the so-called "fat burning zone" is about as real as 'The Twilight Zone.' "The workout that burns as many calories as possible, whether it's long and slow or fast and furious, is the best workout for fat burning and weight loss," she advises.
Myth 5: Lose Before Lifting
Actually, if you're truly serious about losing weight, lifting weights two to three times a week is a must. "Building muscle helps maintain your metabolism even while you're resting and will help you slim down," Wyche notes. When you combine diet with cardio exercise only, you tend to lose a lot of muscle mass; weight training helps preserve muscle so more of your weight loss is truly from fat.
Myth 6: High Reps Rule
Choose a weight you can lift at least eight times keeping good form but no more than 15 times without your muscle feeling the challenge. If you can do more reps than that, the weight you're using isn't heavy enough to give you results. And, as Wyche points out, decreasing body fat will help you see the shape of the muscles underneath.
Myth 7: Crunch Away Ab Flab
There's no such thing as spot reducing -- that is, you can't magically zap the fat from an area by exercising it. Wyche says that you could do 5,000 crunches a day and still not see any improvements until you burn the layer of fat over your ab muscles, which is done by trimming your diet and burning more calories through cardio exercise.
Myth 8: Beef Up to Gain Muscle
"The body uses protein, carbs and fat to build muscle," Wyche notes. Any excess protein you eat beyond what your body needs will simply be expelled through your urine or stored as body fat. Your best bet is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals and enough calories to build strong, shapely muscles.