Weight Loss Myths

By avoiding the weight loss myths listed below, you'll satisfy your beach body and increase your chances of winning the battle of the bulge. Each of the untrue weight loss myths is generally considered common knowledge but only because the exercising public is slow to learn the real info.

To clear up some confusion, it's time for Mythbusters, Workout Routine Warehouse style. Our version of the popular show only deals with weight loss tips and comes to you without any strange mustaches, stupid hats, or science jokes.

1. THE MYTH: Spot Reduction

Gym goers are always looking for the next best exercise to tone their abs, trim their love handles, shape their biceps, or shed fat from some other place our body finds to deposit it. However, outside of liposuction, there is no way to pick and choose where we lose fat (spot reduction).

Fat is lost (and gained) throughout the body in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex, and age, among other things. To reduce fat in any one area, your overall body fat must be reduced. Think of it as an equation (because it is). If at the end of the day the number of calories you've burned exceeds the number of the calories you've consumed, you will lose fat (albeit a very small amount) from an area your body has predetermined. We wish the first place fat loss occurred was in the midsection, but unfortunately it always seems to be the last. However, instead of doing a marathon of crunches every few days (and only exercising the muscles below the fat), focus on compound exercises that burn the most calories like squats, cleans, deadlifts, and the bench press to trigger full body fat loss. For the complete beach body plan, get started on one of our Fat Loss Workouts.

2. THE MYTH: The "Upper and Lower Abs"

"Lower abs" exercises have become incredibly popular due to our body's unfortunate predisposition to deposit fat near the belly button. However, aside from not being able to isolate fat loss to the abdomen (see spot reduction myth above), there's also no way to isolate your "lower abs" in an exercise (notice the quotes). The rectus abdominis a long, flat band of muscle fibers separated down the middle by a strong tendinou sheath. This sheath divides the muscle into right and left halves and is what gives the abs the appearance of a vertical line down the center. There are also three horizontal tendinous creases that give the abs the ripple effect on some individuals. Despite the 6-pack appearance caused by the creases, the rectus abdominis is one large muscle, and the upper and lower portions can't be isolated in exercises.

What you interpret as muscular fatigue in your lower abdomen when doing exercises such as leg raises is actually the burn in you hip flexor muscles, most notably the iliopsoas. Hip flexion is the act of bringing your legs and trunk toward each other and your strong hip flexor muscles overpower your abs to make it happen. The primary hip flexor muscle is the iliopsoas, which lies deep below the lower portion of the rectus abdominous. It's positioning explains why we mistake fatigue in the iliopsoas for lower ab fatigue. Unfortunately, many of the exercises promoted as ab exercises are actually hip flexor exercises that only secondarily work the abs.

Still not convinced? Check out this article published by the Journal of American Physical Therapy Association about a study that monitored EMG activity in the upper and lower portions of the abs in various exercises.

3. THE MYTH: High Reps Burn More Fat

Lifting lighter weight and performing more repetitions (15-20, 20-30) does not burn more fat than going heavier and doing moderate reps (8-12). So I doubt it's come to this point, but if you're opting for the pink or teal dumbbells at the gym, stop it.

One of the benefits of weightlifting is that building lean muscle tissue increases your metabolism as a pound of muscle burns more than four times as many calories as a pound of fat in a given day. A popular goal is to "tone up" and decrease fat while building lean muscle, but when you're on a low calorie diet and you don't challenge your body with heavier weight, there's no way to build any lean muscle or even maintain the muscle you already have.

Aside from increasing your metabolism, high intensity weightlifting also burns more calories after a workout. One study discovered that lifting 85 percent of your one rep max for eight reps burns nearly two times as many calories in the two hours after a workout than doing 15 reps at 45 percent max. Your body has to work much harder to repair the muscles trained in the more intense workout and burns more calories doing so. Increase muscular endurance with high reps? Sure. But it will come with a decrease in the amount of total fat and calories burned.

4. THE MYTH: Pick up a Weight and You'll Look Like Hulk

Some people skip weightlifting and stick to cardio in their weight loss pursuit because they're nervous that picking up a weight will immediately make them look like a power lifter. This weight loss myth is probably more prevalent in females than males with weightlifting experience. The fact is, if you are consuming fewer calories than your burning, it is virtually impossible to bulk up and build any significant muscle at all, especially if you're mixing in cardio. Further, it's even more difficult for women to gain muscle than men. So, relax ladies. Weightlifting burns a ton of calories and is essential for an overall healthy body. And you won't transform into a powerlifter.

There you have it our fit friends, each of our weight loss myths has been BUSTED. With these things in mind alter your exercise routine to be sure that you are most effective with your time spent in the gym.


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