The Internet is filled with articles claiming that you can lose weight. Just follow a magical workout plan, use crazy equipment, or perform out-of-this-world exercises. There are also those that claim certain superfoods can target the fat on your thighs, glutes, abs and belly. Hopefully, you know by now that these are nothing but myths, aimed at getting you to spend your hard earned money on their products. Let's debunk the five most common fitness myths and give you the facts instead.
Myth #1: Women Shouldn’t Lift Heavy Weights
For a long time women avoided engaging in weight training. One reason this happened is because women were told that they would get big and bulky if they lifted any heavy weights. Sadly, this common myth scares many women away from weight lifting, even now (Anytime Fitness) (Sci-Mix).
The truth is that women won't get bulky from lifting heavy weights. Don't be fooled by female bodybuilders that you see in photos. They work hard for those results and weight lifting is only part of the story. Female bodybuilders eat specific food in high amounts, take supplements, and train for hours each day in order to get their muscles to look like that. They also look even more muscular because of how slim and lean they are, how they are trained to stand, and the tans that seem like part of the requirements. Often, it takes years to achieve that kind of strength and muscle mass.
When you lift heavy weights, you'll get stronger, but not necessarily bulkier. The only way to gain bulk is to eat significantly more calories than you burn every day, in addition to strength training for long periods of time, nearly every day of the week (Anytime Fitness). The average woman that lifts will increase her metabolism and burn more calories, leading to long, lean muscles and even weight loss.
Myth #2: You Can Target Certain Body Parts to Lose Fat
It's not possible to target a specific area of your body for weight loss. For instance, if most of your body fat is around your midsection, doing endless crunches won't help eliminate the fat in that area.
Your body is designed to store fat in certain areas, in a specific order. If you exercise on a regular basis, you might experience fat reduction first in your legs, followed by your belly, then in your chest and buttocks. Genetic differences may cause some individuals to lose fat predominantly in some places that others don't, but targeted exercises won't work to melt fat from a specific area (thebodycoach).
Myth #3: Cardio is the Only Way to Lose Weight
This may be difficult to believe, but strength training is more efficient than cardio for weight loss. When you lift weights, your body continues to burn calories for hours after you're done, because your muscles are in the process of repairing themselves. Muscular repair requires energy, and when your body uses energy, you're burning calories. When you complete a session of cardio, that's it--you won't continue to burn calories afterwards.
This is not to say that cardio isn't important. It is crucial to maintain a healthy heart, blood vessels, and a host of other things, but is not the only way to lose weight (Sharecare).
Here's another piece of important information: You don't need to follow a strength training plan for weight loss. If your goal is to shed pounds, changing your diet alone can significantly help you achieve that goal. You don't have to hit the gym to lose weight, although it does help to do so.
If you want to achieve more than just weight loss, you can follow a strength training plan and perform the following exercises (Self):
- Push ups and pull ups
- Kettlebell swings
- Bench presses
- Overhead presses
- Bicep curls
Myth #4: One Fitness Plan Can Work for Everyone
Many research studies and thorough observation have debunked this myth. Regardless of gender, everyone reacts differently to the food they eat and the exercises they perform. This is a result of many factors, from your genetic makeup, to your personal strengths and weaknesses. Gender is a factor that can possibly impact the effectiveness of a fitness plan, but it's not a hard-and-fast rule.
The best strategy for finding out which diet or exercise plan is suitable for you is simply through trial and error. Test out different plans and track your progress. This is the best way to find out how to get the results you want. The most important thing is finding or developing a plan that incorporates activities that you enjoy and that will also increase your personal fitness.
Myth #5: Men and Women Should Weight Train Differently
Contrary to popular belief, both men and women can follow the same workout plan and accomplish their desired goals. They don't have to train differently just because they're different genders (Forbes).
Men and women can successfully do the same type of workouts for weight loss. As previously mentioned, diet is almost always the determining factor in whether or not you lose weight, although exercise can't hurt! (Defranco's Training)
Don't Believe the Hype
The world of health and fitness is full of false statements, misleading advice, and confusing publications. But, you can learn to look past the myths and find a simple, effective diet and exercise plan that works for you.