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10 Fitness Myths that make training harder

I woke up this morning with sore legs. That’s not much different than yesterday or the day before for that matter. Funny, I rarely wonder if it’s worth it. Joggling is enough motivation to keep me going even if it means living with sore legs. But there are lot’s of reasons that people find it hard to keep up with an exercise program. Here’s a list I found compiled in Windy City Sports with my own take on it.

Top Ten Fitness Myths that Make Training Harder

1. You have to work out hard and frequently to get fit. No you don’t. I knew this was bogus when I read Covert Bailey’s book Fit or Fat. It’s really quite good. Three 20 minute exercise sessions a week is plenty. Joggling is an excellent way to blow 20 minutes and so is regular juggling. And they are great fun. Much more fun than an elliptical machine or a stationary bike. Who the hell wants to use those things?

2. It’s fun so it can’t be good for me. That’s nuts. Any activity that gets your heart pumping and your butt off the couch is good. And if it’s something you enjoy (like joggling perhaps) you’ll be more likely to stick with it. So learn to juggle and get fit.

3. Eating protein supplements will make me muscular. Supplements are a waste of money, especially protein supplements. Complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables are the best source of energy to use for exercise. Strength training builds muscle not protein supplements. Don’t try to short-cut your training with miracle pills. They don’t work.

4. No pain, No gain. It doesn’t need to hurt to be worthwhile. Of course, if you are endeavoring to be a world class joggler, the truth is, it will hurt. But it’s the times when you hurt that remind you you are alive.

5. You can eat anything you want because you exercise. What?! This isn’t true? That would explain why I’m still hovering around 190 pounds despite the fact that I ‘ve logged over 800 joggling miles this year. I suppose the 89 candy bars I’ve eaten may have contributed.

6. You can never exercise too much. Moderate exercise is good but there is a point when you do it too much and lower your immune system. There have been studies to show that marathoners get more colds than non-marathoners. It hasn’t been true for me, as I rarely get sick, but a study is a study. And if we’re not going to believe science, who can we believe?

7. You should exercise at a low intensity to lose weight. You see those settings on the treadmill. Get in your “fat burning zone”. Well it’s a bunch of bunk. It turns out that weight loss (or gain) boils down to a simple equation

Amount of Weight (gain/loss) = Calories Burned – Calories consumed.

Eat less, juggle more. That’s the only magic formula there is.

8. Strength training bulks you up and aerobic exercise makes lose weight. See myth number 7. Strength training does build muscle but for every 2 pounds of muscle you gain, you lose 3.5 pounds of fat. And did you know studies have shown that running can actually lead to a “beer gut” because of the constant up and down pounding your abdomen takes. If you’re not doing ab exercises, those love handles will never disappear.

9. Food eaten after 8 pm will turn into fat. Interesting but not true. Your body doesn’t have different metabolic pathways to digest food based on what time of day it is. And it doesn’t shut down at nighttime. Even as you sleep your body needs energy so digestion keeps going even if your brain shuts down. You don’t stop breathing at night right? You don’t stop digesting either.

10. Joggling is impossible. No way. Anyone who can run can also joggle. The first thing you do is learn to juggle. Then combine it with your running. In no time you will be winning your division (the joggler division) in every race. Unless of course you get in a race with Michal or Zach. Those guys are fast!

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Just have to make a comment about #7:

    Having recieved my BS in Exercise and Sport Science, it is in fact true that exercising at a lower intensity promotes fat loss, and this is an important distinction. When people remark that they want to “lose weight”, they most commonly mean “lose fat”, not “lose everything”. You won’t get that toned look, nor have good athletic abilities, without retaining some muscle.

    Due to the way metabolism works, exercising aerobically over longer periods at a lower intensity (say, 40% to 60% of your maximum heart rate – for most people a pulse of 80 to 140, depending on a number of things – for 30 – 60 minutes) will definitely spur the body to use stored fats as fuels instead of blood glucose, or glycogen stores found in muscle and the liver.

    Without getting into too much detail, exercise of this type primarily draws its energy from the Citric Acid Cycle, or Krebs Cycle, metabolism which breaks down fats to provide large amounts of fuel to the body.

    So yes, the intensity level, type, and length of exercise do indeed greatly affect the way tissues respond, fuels are used in the body, and the way the body changes as a reault. It’s not “a bunch of bunk”.

  2. John, thanks for stoppin’ by! It’s good to have a visit from a fellow scientist (my background is Biochemistry although I haven’t thought about the Krebs Cycle in years)

    While you are likely correct about more fat being burned at lower intensity of exercise, it is still better to exercise at the highest intensity you can for the longest period of time. Even though you will burn proportionally more glycogen than fat at a higher intensity, you will still be burning fat. And during the recovery period you will burn more fat as your body replenishes carbohydrate stores.

    “…if you look at the big picture, you’ll burn more fat overall if you exercise harder for longer.” Dr. Nick Carr

  3. That really depends quite a bit on what duration you can keep up this high intensity exercise – theoretically yes, if you exercise at an exceptional level for a long time you’ll have greater calorie burn.

    However, the catch that most people aren’t aware of is that exercise method does affect which metabolic cycle is used for fuel.

    For example, very short, very high intensity activities (70% or greater of max effort for a duration of less than a minute – a good real life example is strength training with free weight) primarily engage ATP stores in muscle and substrates that allow for fast oxidative phosphorylation (the common over the counter susbstance being creatine phosphate). Fat really doesn’t come into play as a *primary fuel* until about 4 or 5 minutes into exercise, and then usually cardiovascular exercise, as higher intensity activities tend to be mostly anaerobic.

    It’s at this point that I reread what I’ve written and wonder if anyone knows what we’re talking about at this point other than us 🙂

    Obviously diet plays a role in this as well (as it does with all things). Being in biochemistry you may know better than me, but if I recall correctly, the body is more likely to replenish glycogen stores from blood glucose (especially after a meal) than through glyconeogenesis. People generally eat after they exercise, and if they don’t for an extended period, they risk losing a lot of lean muscle mass along with the fat.

    The article you reference is, to my eye, startingly short of being candid with the layman. Once you get over a certain intensity level, I haven’t seen any science that leads me to believe you’re improving fat burn vs. just calorie burn.

    They also mention the benefits of additional muscle mass on the base metabolic rate, and recommend increasing muscle mass in order to improve BMR. The part they don’t mention is that in order to build muscle, you need to be in a positive energy balance, which is a fancy exercise term for caloric excess – you need to be taking in more calories than you burn, and you will gain some bodyfat and overall weight during this period.

    Harder and longer is all well and good, and yes it’ll burn more energy overall, but for targeted fat loss, it’s been shown pretty conclusively that there’s a type and intensity of exercise for it.

  4. John
    You are correct in what you’re saying, exercise at a lower intensity does burn more fat, lets say 80% of all energy burnt. But during higher intensity exercise, although the percentage of fat burnt is lower, say 60%, overall the number of calories burnt is higher. And at the end of the day, if you burn more calories than consumed, you will lose mass, which is the aim for that particular person. You are, as most people do, confusing percentage of fat burnt with overall energy expenditure. If someone is trying to lose fat, I would tell them to exercise as hard as they can to deplete those gylcogen stores, as it will take lots of energy to replenish them afterwards, and you also have things like EPOC that come into play. Also, exercising at a higher intensity increases things like LT and VO2max which you wont get going for a 60 min walk.

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