Shape Magazine is busting through some of the most common fitness misconceptions to get you though the holidays without adding weight and to help you reach your weight and health goals faster.
Shape stopped by NBC to outline the top seven “fitness myths.”
Myth: I need exercises to work my 'lower abs' and reduce my pot belly.
Bust: First, there is no such thing as 'lower abs.' The six-pack you're going for is actually one long muscle, called the rectus abdominis, that extends from below your chest to your pelvis. To work your abs, you should do exercises to target all four muscles: the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominis. Also, doing crunches will not help you get a 'six-pack' if you have a layer of fat over your abdominal area. In order the see the muscles; you must reduce your body fat.
Myth: Stretching will prevent injury and enhance your performance.
Bust: There’s no conclusive research showing that stretching before or after your workout will keep you from injuring a hamstring or make you go faster (it could make you go slower!). But it does feel good and it can increase your range of motion.
Myth: To burn maximum fat, work out in your fat-burning zone.
Bust: There is an intensity where you burn more fat than carbohydrates for fuel, but if you’re trying to lose weight, work out to burn maximum calories. That’s what matters. You do that by working at a higher intensity. And often, you can burn max calories AND fat at higher intensities.
Myth: You can spot reduce.
Bust: As much as we’d like to thing we can zap fat in a certain area (with exercise, at least), you can’t. You can spot TONE, which is what you do when strength training, but you can’t select where fat will come off. The only thing you can do is engage in regular cardio, which burns fat all over. Some research has shown that fat comes off first in the abs, too.
Myth: Pilates can lengthen your muscles.
Bust: Pilates doesn't lengthen muscles--it tones and stretches them, which doesn’t mean the muscles get longer. Pilates does an excellent job of improving core strength and postural awareness, which can make you look longer and leaner.
Myth: Building muscle will significantly speed up your metabolism.
Bust: Pound for pound, muscle does burn about 50 more calories than fat. Depending on how much muscle you add it can boost your metabolism, but the average person, especially women, only add a few pounds of muscle as a result of a weight training program. People involved in a dedicated, focused program may add more, though. These small differences do add up and weight training will lower your body fat percentage and help you burn fat faster.