There is no shortage of opinions on the best ways to lose weight and get into shape. Over my career I have heard some fitness myths over and over again, and still hear them today! To help decipher fact from fiction, here is some more information about eight persistent assumptions that might be holding you back.
1. It's better to use a machine. Machine-only based programs train your body in a single, linear motion. These one-dimensional forms of exercise make you more susceptible to injury. Think about it: We live in a multi-dimensional world. Completing multi-joint exercises such as weighted squats, lunges, and deadlifts will prepare your body better for real life.
2. Losing weight only happens in the gym. It takes 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat. I believe that 80 percent of all fitness success happens in the kitchen, not the gym. If you spend one hour (or just four percent) of your day working out, you have the rest of you day to nullify your hard work. Nothing you do in the gym is going to combat the rest of the equation when it comes to weight loss. That equation of course includes fitness, as well as diet, sleep, hydration, and stress management.
3. You can spot reduce. This is a myth that has withstood the test of time, even after it's been reported time and again as being completely false. So I repeat, you cannot select certain places on your body to reduce fat. Crunches are not going to target the fat in your core region. Fat is burned through a combination of cardiovascular and strength training that decreases your body's overall fat content when coupled with a healthy diet.
4. Running is the best form of exercise for weight loss. A lot of people think steady-state cardio is best form of exercise to lose weight, but strength training combined with short spurts of high intensity cardio creates more damage on your muscles and thus a better after-burn effect due to more required repair. Read: More calories burned at a faster rate, even after the workout is over.
5. Staying fit takes up a lot of time. Speaking of which, science has shown that high-intensity interval training really works when it comes to building muscle and burning calories in less time. Also, there are simple exercises, like jumping rope, that burn major calories in not a lot of time. (One minute of jumping rope burns 11 calories!) The long drawn-out days in the gym are over. Try one of my JCORE workout DVDs and you'll see what I'm talking about. They're just 20 minutes long—you have time for that!
6. Women will get "bulky" if they lift heavy weights. This is another misconception that I've heard many times over the years and still hear over and over again. Enough! Heavier weights will not make you bulk up and they are not just for men. Reason: Women and men are not created equal. It's cliché, but it's especially true when it comes to our biology. Testosterone is a key component to muscle building, and women have up to 20 times less testosterone than men. Because of their low levels, it's almost impossible for women to get that bulky effect.
7. You need a gym membership to stay in shape. Bodyweight exercises and workouts are all the rage lately, and for great reason. You can get a better workout more safely when you use just your body to challenge yourself than when you use a machine or equipment you may not know how to use correctly. Also, this style of exercise allows your body to work on all different planes and challenge muscles from all angles. So forget the idea that you can't get a workout if you don't go to the gym. Pull out a mat in your living room and get to work!
8. If it works for her, it's going to work for me. Everybody's body is different. I hear many people talk about a certain celebrity's favorite workout or quote someone else's trainer about a new training plan or workout they should try. However, the main reason anyone finds success in their fitness routine comes down to more than just what type of workout they're doing. It's because they've adapted it into their lifestyle, it keeps them committed, and they're comfortable with it. Find a workout that does the same for you and you will reach your goals.