There is so much fitness information floating around out there I thought it’d be fun to do a little true or false game. The answers are below.
TRUE or FALSE?
- If I do a bunch of ________ (insert body part) exercises, I will tone up that area.
- Calorie counts on equipment are accurate.
- When using an online food journal, I should add in more calories if I workout like they suggest.
- Yoga and Pilates will fix my back pain.
- No pain, no gain when it comes to working out.
- Lifting heavy weights will make women bulky.
- To lose fat, my cardio exercise needs to be low intensity for a longer period of time.
- 1. If I do a bunch of ________ (insert body part) exercises, I will tone up that area.
This is otherwise known as “spot training” and it’s not possible. No matter how many crunches you do, it won’t get rid of the fat on your belly. It will make your ab muscles stronger underneath, but you won’t see the definition and it won’t take off the inches. Interestingly enough, in a study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a single leg resistance program created the same amount of fat loss in both legs (trained and untrained) and even more fat loss in the upper body (even though it wasn’t worked.) In other words, a well rounded training program including cardio and strength coupled with healthy eating will tone up your trouble zones.2. Calorie counts on equipment are accurate.
Unfortunately, they are very inaccurate. This is due to the fact that the equipment can’t take into account your height, your age, your body fat, your heart condition or even the wear and tear on it’s parts and pieces. Each of those factors would change the calorie expenditure. It also doesn’t take into account whether you are cheating. Many people put too much weight on the handles to relieve pressure off of their legs which makes the work easier and the calorie burn lower. In a study done by The University of California at San Francisco’s Human Performance Center, it was found that the different cardio pieces were overestimating calorie expenditure by 19-42%!3. When using an online food journal, I should add in more calories if I workout like they suggest.
This one confuses many people. Many of the online food journals have you put in some basic information about yourself and then your weight loss goal. They give you an approximate number of calories your body needs to lose weight. The reason why they are often inaccurate is for the same reasons as the cardio equipment. They don’t take into account your personal fitness information and it can’t know your basal metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at a resting state.) Your metabolism affects the amount of calories your body needs. To add in more calories for your activity will often give you an overestimated caloric need. If you want to get a more accurate number, use the calculator listed at the bottom of this post.
4. Yoga and Pilates will fix my back pain.
This is often assumed because Pilates and Yoga programs advertise their benefits to the core and of lengthening and strengthening your body. The reason for your back pain is an extremely important factor to take into account. If you have had a back injury, it’s likely that you have some very weak core muscles and some vulnerable muscles in your back. Pilates does train the core, but it utilizes the core in a big way through each movement. If you don’t know how to engage the core muscles properly, your weak areas will take a hit. Same goes for Yoga. The stretches and strengthening can be awesome IF you have the ability to hold good form and postural alignment. If you are struggling with an injury or recuperating from one, it’s best to learn how to gently strengthen and engage your core muscles first before jumping into a Pilates or Yoga class or workout.
5. No pain, no gain when it comes to working out.
Pain is often an indicator that something needs to change. If you feel sharp pains or aggravating pain in your joints, you should stop exercising and see your doc. Is exercise challenging? Sure, but you don’t have to kill yourself to get results. In fact, the opposite is true. If you make all of your workouts really high intensity, you will work backwards from your goals. Moderate intensity exercise and rest are essential to getting stronger and becoming more fit.
6. Lifting heavy weights will make women bulky.
Women don’t have enough testosterone to build large muscle mass. I’ve heard women say that their butt gets bigger or their legs get bigger when they lift weights. You might experience a shape change, like your butt muscle may be higher rather than sagging, when you get stronger muscle, but the look will be lean, not bulky.
7. To lose fat, my cardio exercise needs to be low intensity for a longer period of time.
Low intensity exercise uses fat as its’ fuel. That is true. But the amount of fat calories burned is less than you will burn from higher intensity cardio over time. After a higher intensity cardio workout, you will experience “after burn” which is the energy (aka calories) it takes to bring your body back to normal temperature, breathing rate, heartrate, etc… In comparison, you will end up burning more calories after a high intensity workout than after a low intensity workout.
Surprised by any of these? I’m always surprised at the kinds of information claiming to be truth that circles the internet about exercise and fitness. Make sure your sources are credible before you accept their facts, workouts or recommendations to be truth.
References and Resources:
ABC News: Don’t Get Burned by Calorie Counters
Journal of Strength and Conditioning