Earlier this week we asked you which exercise myth had you convinced for way too long, and you weren't too shy to let us know! We already debunked the myth that muscle turns into fat, but here are the most popular myths that you believed and why they are so completely untrue!
Myth: Strength training makes you bulk up.
You said: "[I believed] that strength training would make you bulk up — [but] it's HARD for women to put on tons of muscle without really trying!!" — Gabriela Une Vie Seine
Fact: Many of you said you believed the bulking myth. In reality, however, building huge muscle requires testosterone coupled with a serious weight-training regimen (not to mention a protein-filled diet), so you aren't going to sculpt a bodybuilder physique unless you really want to. Strength training is an important part of any exercise routine; the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. And while the rate of muscle building depends on your body type, not only will strength training give you a higher calorie-burning rate, but it'll make you more defined as well (as celebrity trainer Jackie Warner says, "Would you rather have fat under those jeans or a little bit of tone?").
Myth: You can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise.
You said: "[I believed that] if I work out everyday I could eat whatever I wanted. Duh!!!!" — Facebook user Brighty
Fact: Whether or not you gain or lose weight is all about the math. Losing pounds happens when you have a caloric deficit, meaning you eat fewer calories then you burn. Whether you want to maintain, gain, or lose weight while you exercise, having your metabolic rate checked and wearing a heart rate monitor can help you know exactly how much you should be eating. What you eat is also important, especially if you're training for a race; it's important to find the perfect balance of fats, protein, and carbs that will keep you fueled and energized.
Find three more popular myths debunked after the break!
Myth: You should just do "fat-burning zone" exercises to lose weight.
You said: "[I believed] that you would lose more weight if you stayed in the 'fat burning zone' instead of upping it into the [more-intense] cardio zone." — Vanonymous
Fact: Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do was walk away the pounds? The fat-burning zone you see on cardio machines refers to lower intensity, lower heart-rate zone exercises that burn more fat calories than carbs. In reality, however, the type of calories burned matters less than the overall amount of calories you are burning; if you want to lose weight, higher intensity cardio exercises will do that more efficiently, so it's better to up the intensity and go for the overall burn.
Myth: Six-pack abs are just 1,000 crunches away.
You said: "[I believed I could] spot train fat away . . . I used to try and work my hips and stomach like crazy thinking the fat would just go away because I worked those areas so hard. Now I know that it is a total body workout plus cardio AND a good diet will get me there." — teacupkat
Fact: Toning exercises are important for obtaining definition, but without the right plan your well-defined muscles will be hidden under a layer of fat. To banish the belly, stick to a healthy balanced diet and remember to do high-intensity cardio exercises to burn that stubborn fat as well.
Myth: Doing cardio is the only way to lose weight.
You said: "[I believed] that cardio was the only way I could ever lose inches and pounds. It wasn't until I got a stress fracture in my foot from too much running and switched to lifting weights three times a week with a trainer that I realized the importance of strength training — and I actually got down to a size 2!" — laellavita
Fact: It's not all about cardio, however. Some of you believed that cardio exercises were your magic ticket to shedding pounds, but as mentioned above a balanced exercise routine should include strength training as well, since more muscle mass equals higher metabolism. In fact, not only should you become a regular in the weight room, but you may want to try out heavier weights as well; studies have shown that women who lifted heavier weights and did fewer repetitions upped their caloric burn compared to women who used lighter weights and did more reps.