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Fitness Mistakes That Prevent Weight Loss

5 Fitness Myths That Mess With Results

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!

By Jenna Bergen, Prevention

With so many people offering advice on weight loss, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. All too often I’ve overheard a hardworking gym-goer sharing a well-meaning but ill-informed tip with another exerciser. And I’m not the only one who’s heard fitness folklore being swapped on the training room floor. I spoke to top experts in the field to find out the common fitness myths they hear from clients. From the pseudo miracles of the "fat-burning" zone to the misguided magic of working out on an empty stomach, these fitness falsehoods should never be followed.

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Myth No. One: Keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone

If you've been exercising at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate in order to shed flab faster, you could be slowing your slim down. "The fat-burning zone is a complete myth," says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Prevention advisory board member and fitness research director at Quincy College. "While it's true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall." For instance, if you get on a treadmill and walk at a 3.5 mph pace for 30 minutes, you might burn 250 calories. If you raise the speed to seven miles per hour, you’d burn 500. Bottom line? "It’s much better to go at the faster speed." Prefer the elliptical trainer? Make sure you're not making one of the top 10 elliptical trainer mistakes.

Myth No. Two: Boosting cardio is the best way to bypass a plateau

"The most effective way to lose weight is to include both cardio and weights in your routine," says Jari Love, star of the Get Extremely Ripped: 1000 Hardcore DVD. "One study found that when individuals cycled for 30 minutes a day, they lost three pounds of fat and gained a half pound of muscle in eight weeks. But individuals who cycled for 15 minutes and weight trained for 15 minutes a day lost 10 pounds of fat and gained two pounds of calorie-burning muscle."

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Keep reading! We bust three more myths after the break.

Myth No. Three: Doing squats will make your butt big

"This one cracks me up," says personal trainer and Prevention contributing editor Chris Freytag. "We all know what makes your butt big, and it isn't squats. All of us who sit in front of a computer, at a desk, or in a car seat all day are at risk for developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it." One of the best fixes: squats! "Science shows that this move will help to lift, firm, and strengthen your buns," says Freytag. "Just be sure to focus on good form. Keep your knees above your shoe laces and sit back into an imaginary chair; squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing."

Myth No. Four: An empty stomach means more fat burn

You've probably heard that working out sans food forces your body to tap into fat reserves to work, but this is far from true, says Freytag. "Science has shown you need to have some glucose in your system in order to ignite your fat-burning furnaces. If you run out of stored glucose, your flame goes out, and you start burning up muscle." Having a little preworkout snack — check out our list of 14 snacks that power up weight loss for ideas — 30 to 60 minutes before your workout gives you the energy to go longer and harder, which boosts your burn.

Myth No. Five: You can target trouble spots

It would be nice to be able to choose where our bodies store fat (bigger cup size and thinner thighs, please!), but that just isn’t possible. "The scientific truth is that your body decides where to burn fat based on genetics, regardless of the body part you are exercising," says Samantha Clayton, personal trainer and costar of YouTube’s Be Fit in 90. Instead of focusing on one area, spend your time doing full-body workouts that blast calories, like running or body-weight circuits, for all-over slimming.

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