Here’s a secret: doing 20 crunches a night won’t give you Miley Cyrus’s abs. Sweating bullets on the elliptical a few nights a week isn’t enough to shed a substantial amount of weight, either. And did you know dieting could potentially make you gain weight?
With so many different facts about exercise available today, it’s hard to know which ones to believe and which ones to ignore. Equal Time has got you covered. We’re debunking three common exercise myths, bringing you one step closer to your fitness goals.
MYTH: Weight lifting will only make you bulk up
TRUTH: Do you stay clear of weights for fear that you’ll bulk up like a linebacker? The truth is, lifting weights the right way will actually tone your body and speed up the weight loss process. Noemi Henriquez, a junior health and exercise science major and personal trainer at Archbold Gymnasium, says, “Women do not have the genetic potential to ‘bulk up.’ We have low levels of testosterone, a hormone that promotes muscle growth, and even though men have a lot of it, they still have a hard time building muscle.” Suzanne K. Oliver, MFA, Ph. D., an assistant exercise science professor, recommends doing more repetitions with lower weights in order to train for muscular endurance.
MYTH: You can target a specific area of fat
TRUTH: If you believe loads of crunches will give you flat abs, think again. Oliver says genetics decides which area of your body is used to burn fat, adding that women lose weight in the same way they put it on. Essentially, the first place you add weight is the last place you remove it. Kevin Heffernan, Ph.D., assistant exercise science professor, says the best approach to lose weight anywhere on the body is to eliminate fat. “You can do sit-ups until you’re red in the face. If you have that layer of fat over the muscles, you’ll never see those muscles,” he says. Henriquez stresses the importance of a healthy diet if you want to lose fat. “Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, less processed foods, less saturated fats and drink more water,” she says. “Eat until your comfortably satisfied, instead of overstuffed.”
MYTH: Cardio is the best way to lose weight
TRUTH: Cardio alone won’t make you lose weight, but it does need to be incorporated into your exercise routine. Although you burn more calories with cardio than with weight training, you need to build muscle mass to get the best results. Your body spends more calories holding onto muscle than fat, so having muscle allows you to burn more calories at rest. Heffernan stresses that cardio is still necessary on top of healthy eating because some bodies adapt to drastic changes in diet by preserving weight, which slows down metabolism. “You can lose weight with diet alone but keeping it off is very challenging,” he says. “Diet and exercise is the best approach to lose weight and keep it off,” as long as you take in less calories and burn more. Overall, Henriquez says being healthy requires a combination of cardio, strength training and healthy diet. “This isn’t a ‘two-week, get into my bikini’ kind of thing but more of an ‘I’m doing this to be the best possible version of myself for the rest of my life!’ commitment,” she says.