JUST FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: Common ‘toning’ myths

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First Posted: 3/11/2013

When it comes to shedding unwanted body fat, all exercise is not created equal. While all exercise is certainly beneficial at improving overall health, certain types of exercises have the edge on fat burning.

It’s important to note that a comprehensive, long-term approach to fitness and nutrition is by far the best way to achieve your goals. However, you can make progress in a short amount of time. Here are some myths to avoid when trying to get maximal return on minimal time invested.

1. Doing cardiovascular “cardio” exercise is the only way to burn fat and get toned.

This has been the “go to” method for many years, but science has shown that it is not the most effective way. First, “cardio” is not an exercise; it’s an energy system. People typically use the word “cardio” to mean aerobic exercise and aerobic exercise. While it’s beneficial, it should not be your go-to exercise for fat reduction. It’s not the best use of your time, and what’s worse is that your body quickly adapts to it. It can be muscle wasting, which is the opposite of what you want to do.

2. Weight training makes you bulky.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and it is a very common myth amongst the female population. The truth is that weight training will change your body by adding muscle. First, additional muscle burns calories, and secondly, muscle is more dense and takes up less space than body fat. By building more muscle, you are working on becoming leaner and will have a sleeker appearance.

3. You should target specific areas of fat on your body that you want to lose.

Spot reduction is not possible. Instead of focusing on one area, focus on increasing your resting metabolic rate. This will increase your calorie expenditure overall. If you gain 10 pounds of fat, you can’t control where it goes on your body. The same goes for fat loss; you can’t control from where it leaves your body.

* For those following the nutrition plan from the column on Feb. 27, here is the first change to implement to ensure forward progress:

Wednesday, March 13 marks the end of the two-week period. Remove your starchy carbohydrates at breakfast and replace with vegetables or a small piece of fruit. An example of your “new” breakfast could be a veggie omelet made with two eggs and various vegetables. You may use egg whites as a substitute for the whole eggs.

-Tim Hlivia is the owner of Leverage Fitness Studio in Forty Fort.