There’s a lot of advice that gets thrown around in the fitness industry, yet it often gets distilled into bite sized pieces of information that get taken and implemented in isolation, without a real understanding of how that piece of advice fits in with your overall health and wellness.
We’re going to dive into 3 common fitness sayings to help you understand what they really mean, and how to properly implement them into your routing for better, faster results.
Doing Lots of Cardio Will Make You Lose Weight
This may sound crazy. But doing cardio to lose weight may be having the opposite effect. Cardiovascular exercise does suppress hunger, temporarily, during and after exercise. However, what often happens is that when our hunger returns after a vigorous cardio session, we eat all of those calories back, and more.
Cardio can have very positive effects on your overall body composition, but you cannot simply do cardiovascular work and not pay attention to your diet. This can lead to no results, even the opposite results than desired. If you’re exercising a lot more, you might have a larger appetite due to all of the calories expended. But if you burn 400 calories with intense exercise, then eat a 500 calorie meal, you’ve negated the exercise and have actually added 100 calories in excess.
Long sessions of cardio might be holding you back from the results you want. Make sure to pay careful attention to your diet to ensure you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. Add in a little resistance training, and you’ll have a well-balanced body that is lean, strong, and healthy.
Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky
Lifting weights is often associated with getting big and bulky. And for a lot of women, this is a reason for neglecting resistance training as a whole. However getting “bulky” from lifting weights requires a specific regimen that is designed to have this effect. Let’s break it down:
Getting bulky from lifting weights can occur for 2 reasons. Lifting while maintaining a poor diet (or an intentionally high-caloric diet), and/or specific weight lifting routines and programming designed to get you bulky.
If you are lifting weights without paying attention to what you are consuming, you may get bigger and bulkier. This is because resistance training is not as effective in lowering body fat percentage than cardio, though it is more effective at increasing lean body mass.
Some people also intentionally eat more to lift heavier weights, but this is an intentional diet designed to bulk you up.
The second reason for getting bulky has to do with how you are lifting weights. If you are lifting with weights that allow you do to about 12-20 repetitions for multiple sets, what you are doing is called “hypertrophic” training. This type of programming (lower weight but higher reps) is designed to increase the size of your muscles, which will inevitably lead to a “bulkier” look.
If you are lifting weight that only allows you to do a few sets at about 5-10 repetitions, your overall physique will not lead to bulkiness. Instead, you’ll get leaner and stronger, have more defined muscles, and have a generally healthy looking and feeling body.
So if you want increase your strength and not get bulky, stick with heavier weight and fewer repetitions. But remember, when working with heavy weight, form first.
Do Lots of Crunches to Get a Six Pack
It makes sense – if I want abs, I have to train them and they’ll show. However, doing hundreds of crunches without other considerations will never get you the abs you want, and you may be doing more harm than good.
If you want abs and start doing lots of crunches, you will probably have a ripped stomach, however you can’t see it due to a layer of fat that is covering them up. Unfortunately, doing abs won’t reduce the fat you have on your stomach. Spot treating fat areas is actually impossible – your body loses body fat all over, at generally the same rate.
Plus, if you’re crunching away, you may develop tight hip flexors due to the repetitive movement, which can lead to an anterior pelvic tilt (your pelvis shifting forward) which can lead to lower back pain. Ouch.
What you should do instead is diet (put yourself in a caloric deficit), and have a well-balanced workout routine combining resistance training, cardio, and core strengthening and stabilization. This means fewer crunches, and instead focus on planks, Pilate ball stabilizations, and other variations of these types of core exercises alongside a well-rounded resistance training routine.
Nothing involving fitness can be isolated in a vacuum. When you want to reach your fitness goals quickly, you must integrate specific workout parameters and prescriptions into all areas of your life and health, and understand how each affects the other. Because often times doing just one thing (cardio, lifting at high repetitions, doing lots of crunches) and ignoring all other considerations will prevent you from reaching your goals, and may even be setting you back. So make sure to take good advice and apply it well. Soon you’ll be on your way to a strong, healthy body.