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Five Misconceptions of Exercise

Posted Aug 23 2008 10:26pm

Heidi, Health Nut Wannabe Mom and one of my "online training" success stories, recently interviewed me about five common misconceptions of exercise. To top things off, she shared the interview as a guest post on -- a blog authored by John that focuses on "family, fitness and finances."

Are you training smart, or have you fallen prey to one of the many misconceptions that exist? Learn more by reading the article below!

Many thanks to Heidi and John for this opportunity and their support!


Five Misconceptions of Exercise
Heidi Cudnik

1. Steady-state cardiovascular training (“cardio”) is the best way to lose body fat. Going out and running long distances may be great for a couple of things – pure enjoyment and, well, getting better at running long distances – but burning fat is not one of them. Why?

– It makes your body a more efficient fat burner – exactly what you’re trying to avoid. If you become more efficient at burning fat, you’ll have to consistently run further (work longer) to burn the same amount of fat you did when you first began training.

– It reduces your lean body mass (read: reduces muscle). Muscle can serve you beyond simply providing mobility and strength. Because it’s a highly energetic tissue, it also acts as a “furnace” that burns excess body fat, provided the body’s internal environment is healthy and functioning optimally. Reduce the size of the furnace, you reduce the demand for energy and your reduce fat burning capability – it’s that simple.

– It doesn’t agitate your body enough. Research shows that one of the best ways to burn body fat is to exercise in a way that promotes the burn long after your training session has ended (The term for this is EPOC). Slow going cardio doesn’t do that. The activities that do? Resistance training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Focus on these (and great nutrition habits) for “the best way to lose body fat.”


2. Resistance training will make you big and bulky. This fear is most common amongst women concerned about maintaining their feminine appeal. Many variables have to work together for “bulking up” to happen – genetics, ample food consumption, very intense strength training and lots of time (not to mention testosterone which, last time I checked, exists in much lower levels in women than men). The one thing strength training is guaranteed to do is make you stronger. But getting stronger is not necessarily synonymous with getting big and bulky.


3. Achieve a lean, toned look by training with low weight, high repetitions. Low weight, high repetition training is good for three things:
1. Introducing a beginner to strength training.
2. Developing strength endurance.
3. Psychologically pacifying somebody who is afraid of bulking up. (See Misconception #2.)

Muscle tone simply describes muscle tension – the firmness/hardness of a muscle. To get that firm, toned feel, you’ve got to get stronger and build muscle. How do you do this? Pick up heavy weights.

As for the lean look you desire? Eat better! You can lift until you have the strength and muscle tone of Atlas, but poor dietary habits will still keep you trapped in an excess layer of body fat.


4. Exercise will alleviate my stress. Training actually is useful for reducing stress, especially in the context of “taking your mind off things” or “blowing off steam.” However, many people turn to exercise for relief without recognizing it for what it is – another form of stress. This becomes an issue if you’re not managing the other emotional, mental and spiritual stresses in your life.


Because all stressors - whether they’re a product of the mind or of physical labor - have a physical effect on you. And the body isn’t capable of compartmentalizing stress, or replacing one stress with another. . . So, if you exercise catabolically without considering the other stressors in your life, you increase the chance that your body will be pushed to exhaustion or illness.

The bottom line? Listen to your body and keep your internal stress in check. Doing so enables you to handle the stress of training, no matter what the intensity, and adapt positively to the exercise stimulus.


5. More is better. This mindset is especially common when you want results. . . yesterday. The key here is remembering that training is the stimulus for change; your body transforms because it responds to, rests and recovers from that stimulus. So, rather than training more, train smart with intent and intensity. . . Get more out of less time so your body has plenty of time to rebuild.

I want to thank Christopher Warden for providing such beneficial information. Now you can get to the gym, do what you need to do to be your best and then go have some fun (except for you health nuts who think the gym is fun then you can just spend more time there having “fun”).

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