putting a kink in your workout efforts. Here are some fitness myths that
have proved to be just that.
contact sports, but it's not totally harmless. A total-body workout at
least twice a week along with regular jogs can build up muscles
supporting the knees.
power of short workouts rather than longer ones. Some research even
suggests quickie sessions might be better.
out every day can lead to injury or overtraining, which keeps your
muscles from rebounding and your body from improving.
lead to weight gain. Even partial sleep deprivation ups production of
the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger.
lower levels of testosterone than men, so they're less likely to bulk up
from lifting weights.
Fitness: Myths vs. facts
(CNN) -- You've been trying forever to get that
elusive six-pack: the holy grail of fitness goals. None of the gizmos
and doodads advertised online or on TV have worked, so you figure it's
time to sign up for that 30-minute abs class at the gym.
Heck, what could be better for getting washboard abs than doing 9
million crunches, reverse crunches, twisting crunches, crunches with
someone holding your feet, crunches with someone sitting on your chest,
crunches with a cinderblock on your forehead, right?
"Everyone already has a six-pack. It's just hidden under layers of
body fat," said personal trainer Lecia Whitlock, an instructor at the
National Personal Training Institute. "The key to getting a lean
midsection is to reduce your overall percentage of body fat. And
crunches just aren't a very effective way to do that."
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Losing body fat -- whether it's in your arms, legs, hips or abs -- is
done by creating a daily caloric deficit so your body has to tap into
stored energy, or body fat, to feed your muscles and keep you going.
To do this, you'll want to launch a three-pronged attack.
Great abs without the crunches
Mobile apps that help you lose weight
Trainer: work your core, you can do more
to burn more calories daily. Muscle is living tissue. The more of it
you have and the more of it you use on regularly, the more calories your
body requires to function properly.
Adding multiple bouts of intense cardiovascular work -- 30-minute
sessions three to four times per week -- is a quick way to burn big
chunks of calories in a short time.
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Finally, you'll want to make sure that your diet isn't loaded with a
lot of extra, empty calories. For the most part, the more calories that
you take in, the more you'll have to burn to lose weight.
"Most people underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how
much they've exercised, and that's a lethal combination for someone
trying to lose weight," said Whitlock.
What's nice is that the work you'll be doing in the gym -- whether
it's strength training or cardio -- can be just as much of a workout for
your midsection as any "abs blaster" class at your gym. And choosing
movements that engage the abs and other core muscles will actually help
you in your quest for a trimmer waistline.
Try doing your chest presses while lying on a stability ball instead
of on a bench. Replace the leg presses you do using a machine with just
about any type of lunge.
"As your core becomes stronger, it allows you to build your other
muscles more effectively," Whitlock explaned. "And by building those
other muscles, you'll be increasing your metabolism, which is one of the
keys to lowering your overall body fat."
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Conveniently, when it comes to cardio, the exercises that challenge
your midsection are also the ones that have the highest rates of calorie
Think about a kickboxing or Latin dance class. Even choosing standing
exercises like the elliptical or treadmill over seated exercises like
the stationary bike will cause you to burn more calories per minute and
force your midsection to work harder.
"When most people think about their core, they only think about their
abs," said Whitlock. "In reality, the core is made up of all the
muscles that control, move and stabilize the hips and lower torso."
So by incorporating a variety of different movements into your
workout, you'll also make sure you're strengthening your entire core.
Weakness or muscular imbalances in the core can lead to everything
from lower back pain to issues with your knees and posture. By ditching
your abs class in favor of a full-body workout, you'll not only be
heading in a straighter direction toward your six-pack, but you'll also
be working to prevent potential injuries down the road.