Working out is difficult! And I’m not talking about digging deep and finding the strength to get your butt to the gym. No, I’m talking about all the complexities that lie after you’ve taken that first pivotal step.
There are so many considerations that need to be taken in order to get the results you want. Does eating on an empty stomach burn more fat? Do you work out hard for short periods of time, medium for long periods, or at intervals? And what’s the deal with this whole ‘you don’t burn fat unless you workout for more than 30 minutes’ business? So if I work out for 25 minutes it won’t mean anything?? And what happens if I stop working out? Will all those muscles just turn to flab?
Fortunately, your head won’t have to spin for much longer thanks to Jenny Evans, stress/exercise physiologist and founder of PowerHouse Performance Coaching, who has graciously revealed everything you need to know about working out in order to get the results you want!
Read on for her breakdown of fitness myths and facts!
Myth #1: Longer Workouts At A Lower Intensity Burn More Fat
Short and intense interval training sessions can improve whole body fat oxidation by 36% and may offer greater benefits than lengthy bouts of steady-state exercise. Interval training allows you to get more work done in the same amount of time because you can work at greater intensity levels than if you were doing steady state training. Your overall production (calories burned) will be greater despite the frequent breaks because you are able to work at a higher intensity.
Interval training also improves your level of fitness very quickly, typically in a matter of just a few weeks, and this improvement in fitness allows you to perform more work and burn more calories during an exercise session.
Myth #2: I Should Workout On An Empty Stomach So My Body Will Burn Fat
You must put glucose (food) in the system before you exercise. If you are exercising with no glucose in the system, it sends your body into Emergency Mode. Emergency Mode = hold on to body fat for as long as possible because it is valuable energy and will be necessary to survive. Instead of fat, your body will break down muscle tissue and use that as energy. It does this for two major reasons:
1) Muscle is metabolically active tissue. For this reason it’s viewed as costly when there is not enough energy coming in. Your body is “doing you a favor” by getting rid of really needy, high maintenance cells. Emergency Mode is all about energy conservation: Get rid of muscle, hold on to fat.
2) Losing muscle mass slows down your metabolism, which conserves energy. This is your body’s goal when you are in Emergency Mode.
If you are working out – or even physically active – and there is no glucose in the system, your primary fuel source is muscle, not fat. Get your body out of Emergency Mode by making sure to keep adequate glucose in the system by eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day.
Myth #3: If I Don’t Have At Least 30 Minutes to Exercise I Should Just Skip It Because I Won’t Get Any Benefit
Science has shown that you do not have to do long, continuous workouts to get benefit. Studies have taken two groups of exercisers and divided them in to 30 minutes of continuous exercise done in one session and 30 minutes done in 3 bouts of 10 minutes each, spread throughout the day. Guess which group got more benefit? The second group that spread out their three 10 minutes sessions reaped more benefit, and here’s why: Every time you exercise, your metabolism increases. When you finish exercising, it takes a while for your metabolism to slow back down. This means free extra calories being burned! I like to think of this as the “Afterburner Effect”. The group that did 30 consecutive minutes got only one “afterburner effect”, whereas the second group got three!
Another benefit to splitting up your workouts is that it may be more do-able from a time management perspective. Finding a big block of time can be very challenging, but finding 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes mid-day and 10 minutes in the evening definitely has possibilities. Instead of bagging a workout because you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour, see how much you can accumulate throughout the day or week.
Myth #4: If I Stop Exercising All My Muscle Will Turn To Fat
Muscle cannot turn into fat. Molecularly the two are as different as oil and water. As you begin to exercise your muscle fibers hypertrophy (grow), causing your metabolism to increase. This increase in energy expenditure creates an energy deficit, and so your body uses stored energy from the fat cells causing them to shrink in size.
When you stop exercising the muscle fibers atrophy (shrink), causing your metabolism to slow. This decrease in physical activity and energy expenditure coupled with eating the way you did when you were working out creates an energy surplus, which is stored in the fat cells and they grow larger. It is just a matter of taking up space, not turning into something else.
Myth #5: Working My Abs All The Time Will Get Me a Six-Pack Stomach
Physical activity – including resistance training – will help reduce body fat, but not specifically or exclusively in the isolated muscle group being worked. Current theory shows that a reduction in calorie intake coupled with exercise results in fat reduction throughout the entire body, not in localized spots.
You cannot “spot reduce” fat on specific areas of the body. Body fat decreases in an all over body sense – your body genetically decides where the fat goes to or comes from first and unfortunately you can’t control it. Reducing body fat is best accomplished through a combination of cardiovascular activity, resistance training, and a healthy diet.
Myth #6: I’m Too Old to Have a Frim Stomach Or Toned Legs
Although studies indicate you may lose muscle mass as you become older, you can slow or even reverse the process through exercise. There is no reason why you cannot improve the strength, flexibility, and overall appearance of your body no matter how old you are. The old adage “Use it or lose it” applies here. Most people lose muscle mass because they stop exercising, not because they are old. They become sedentary. Depending on your present level of fitness, you can add muscle mass to some degree or another. You’re never too old to receive the health benefits of exercise and to look great!
Jenny Evans is founder of PowerHouse Performance Coaching and the creator of PowerHouse Hit the Deck, an innovate product that combats the Cortisol Crisis, boosts your threshold for stress, improves your overall levels of energy and productivity, increases the quality of your sleep, and elevates your level of fitness. A sought after international speaker, her insightful and practical principles leave her audiences ready to take action!