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The top 4 female fitness myths

Friday - 7/4/2014, 6:48am  ET

WomenFitness.jpg
There's a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to women's health and fitness. Josef Brandenburg tackles facts and fiction. (Thinkstock)

Josef Brandenburg
WTOP Fitness Contributor

WASHINGTON -- The health and fitness market is saturated with information, and sometimes it's hard to determine what's correct and what isn't.

Josef Brandenburg, a local fitness expert and owner of The Body You Want, breaks down fact from fiction regarding women's fitness.

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Myth: You can spot-burn fat.

Fact: You can use workouts to slim your thighs, but only because you do workouts that slim your entire body. Isolation exercises thought to help reduce weight in one area of the body are the exercises that will do the least to slim you everywhere. So yes, you can skip that awkward inner- and outer-thigh machine if your intent is to lose weight.

Bottom line: Work your entire body hard and your trouble spots will take care of themselves. Simply focusing on isolating your trouble spots will change nothing.

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Myth: The scale is the be-all and end-all of results.

Fact: You can drop one, two or even three sizes without the scale changing much. This is especially true when women begin to do resistance training; it radically speeds up how fast you shrink, but it also tends to slow down how fast the scale goes down.

If you keep shrinking out of old clothes and need to buy smaller clothes, and others notice a difference in your physique, you are succeeding, regardless of what the scale says.

Bottom line: Keep the goal the goal. If you want to look great and feel great, pick a different way to measure your progress, such as being able to wear a dress you can't zip now. The scale only tells you how much you weigh, not how good you look or how you are improving your body's health.

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Myth: Heavy weights make women bulky.

Fact: If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. "Heavy" is a relative term. When you're sculpting your body, a better word to use is "challenging." If you're doing an exercise for 12 reps, you should be working hard for all 12 reps while still maintaining good form. When you're done, you should only be able to do two more reps. Working hard won't make you bulky.

Bottom line: Challenge yourself when you work out. If you don't look like a hot, sweaty mess when you're done with your workout, it probably won't do you much good.

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Myth: Exercising in your "fat-burning zone" will help you burn more fat.

Fact: Low-intensity exercise, such as working in your "fat-burning zone," will help you burn more fat as a percentage of calories burned, but you will achieve a much smaller overall caloric burn. Furthermore, low-intensity exercise does little to your metabolism after you work out; high-intensity exercise can keep your metabolism elevated for 24 to 36 hours after you're done working out.

Bottom line: Interval and resistance training will get you the body you want in the time you actually have. Exercising at low intensities is mostly good for watching TV.

Editor's Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.-area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube.

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