May 10, 2022
6 mins read
Ladies, this is for you.
There’s a lot of crap out there, and the majority of it is targeted at women.
These are things that people have said to me. These are things I used to think. These are things that have been so ingrained into the minds of women that even if you know better, they may still creep back into your head from time to time.
TEN FITNESS LIES
1. "100 reps of this exercise every day will help me get toned."
There are few things that I hate more than the word “toned.” Here’s why.
First, muscle tone is an actual physiological term used to describe the constant tension your muscles hold. Your muscles are always slightly contracted, and this is called muscle tone.
Everyone has muscle tone.
Second, the “toned” look that women usually want to achieve does not happen in the way most women expect it to happen. High volume, low intensity exercise (endurance running, 1000 reps of anything) will help (somewhat) in burning off energy and may provide some weight loss, but even if the fat disappears, what will be left? Shrunken muscles with no definition. No “tone.” That’s right - endurance training actually causes muscle fibers to decrease in size. So while you may and up with a slight amount of fat loss (or weight loss from loss of muscle), the look you were hoping to achieve will not be there.
2. "I don't want to lift because it will make me bulky."
This is one of the BIGGEST fitness lies out there. Many people see pictures of manly looking, muscular females in magazines and on the internet and instantly assume that this is because they train like men. This is simply not the case.
Let’s have a brief science lesson. Men and women are different. We have different body structures. Our bodies produce different hormones. The two main sex hormones are testosterone and estrogen. Men and women actually produce both testosterone and estrogen. In males, these hormones are produced in the testes; in women, they are produced in the ovaries. Now here’s the kicker, and it is probably already obvious to you: men produce testosterone in much larger quantities than women, and women produce estrogen in much larger quantities than men. This is what gives men male characteristics and women female characteristics.
Testosterone is the important hormone here and is responsible for things like bone density, fat distribution, hair growth, and MUSCLE GROWTH in males. The fact is that women do not produce enough testosterone to become bulky from lifting weights. Those who do look "bulky" have either dedicated their lives to training so they can look that way, or they use illegal performance-enhancing substances (or both).
The cool thing is what lifting does do for women: it builds muscle, boosts metabolism, increases fat loss, enhances curves, and overall creates a more “womanly” figure.
3. "If I do crunches/ab exercises it will help get rid of my belly fat."
You cannot spot reduce fat. Period.
Do a quick Google search for fat-loss workouts and you'll see how this myth continues to plague women.
“Do this workout to lose your love handles.” “Want a six-pack? Do this exercise!” “30 day thigh slimming challenge.”
Okay yes, any exercise at all is excellent, but it is impossible to target fat loss. No matter what muscles you work, fat will be used from stores all over the body to be used as energy.
4. "I'm going to wear sweats when I work out because that's better for helping you lose weight."
Sweating is the body’s natural cooling process. When you sweat, it means that you are working hard and your body is doing what it’s supposed to do and keeping your core temperature down. While sweating may result in brief weight loss (in the form of water loss, which should actually be replaced and replenished in order to prevent dehydration) it doesn’t mean extra fat is going to melt off of your body.
5. "Doing cardio every day is the only way I will get in shape."
First of all, cardio sucks. Like if you love that runner’s high, then good for you. But more often than not, I see people running outside or on the treadmill hoping to get in better shape, looking like they hate their lives.
While cardio is effective at burning calories during activity, strength training is extremely effective at increasing caloric expenditure over time. The benefits of strength training aren't limited to caloric burn, either. One of the greatest benefits of strength training is muscle growth. And what happens when you have big muscles? Lots of great things. First, you get stronger. And being stronger makes life a whole lot easier. Carry your baby without getting tired. Walk up the stairs with your laundry without getting winded. Carry all the groceries inside in one trip. Open jars without anyone’s help. It’s a great life. Also, muscle definition and aesthetics are an added bonus.
6. "I saw this workout online and if I do it every day I will be in really good shape."
Like I mentioned earlier, exercising at all is excellent, especially if you’re not used to doing it. And if the type of exercise you’re doing makes you happy and you love it and you’re rocking life, then don’t change anything. But in reality, if you do the same workout over and over and over and over. And over. And over again, your body will eventually adapt and your progress will inevitably slow down. This is the same reason endurance training is one of the least effective ways to get into shape. Our bodies are really good at adapting to stress (it wants to become more efficient), and if you run for a mile every day, your body will eventually adjust and you will get really good at it. This also means that your body won’t have to work as hard to run the same distance (it has become more efficient and therefore uses less calories for the same amount of work). So then you have to run farther or longer. And eventually if you run any longer or any farther, your body will get worn down and injured. The key is change. Mix it up to avoid a plateau.
7. "I'm going to run until the treadmill says I've burned 500 calories. Then I will have had a good workout."
Machine calorie calculators are inaccurate. The number of calories you’ve burned doesn’t define a “good” or “bad” workout.
8. "I'm going to do a lot of upper body and triceps exercises to get rid of my bat wings."
See Number 3.
9. "I'm going to do a lot of adductor machine exercises so I can have a thigh gap."
See Number 3 again. Also thigh gaps are stupid and purely depend on the structure of your hip and femur. Which you can’t change. Probably not even with surgery. At least I wouldn’t risk it.
10. "I read it on a fitness blog so it must be true."
There are a lot of fitness blogs out there, and not all of them base what they share on evidence. Some share success based on their own experience, which is great, but what works for one person might not work for another. Some share what they think will be popular even if it may not be accurate. If you are truly interested in learning something, do your own research and make your own decisions.