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Myth: You need to exercise hours every day of the week to get good results

Truth: Exercising only minutes some days of the week will yield good results

People think more is better, yet long durations of training isn’t the best for your body because overtraining will cause diminishing returns if you don’t rest and recover. Resistance training tears your muscles and so you need to rest and recover so your muscles can rebuild and grow stronger. If you are someone who wants to go hard as much as possible, choose to spend at least one day as an active rest day to relieve constant stress to your body, which can include a low intensity walk or yoga. In addition, you don’t need hours on end in the gym, the type of exercise you do can provide better results with less time. 

Researchers at Queen’s University conducted a study to measure the difference between two groups of recreationally active females around 20 years of age exercising 4 days per week. One group did 4 minutes of Tabata body weight exercises and the other group did 30 minutes of endurance treadmill training (cardio). The Tabata group did whole-body aerobic-resistance training that involved one set including 8 repetitions of 20 seconds (8×20) of a single exercise with 10 seconds rest in between. The single bodyweight exercises varied between burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers or squat thrusts.

The results showed that both the cardio and Tabata groups experienced improvements in aerobic fitness, however the Tabata (whole-body aerobic-resistance training) group improved muscular endurance. You can get more bang for your buck in terms of muscular endurance by working out 16 minutes per week total doing bodyweight Tabata style exercises instead of spending 120 minutes doing endurance treadmill cardio. 

If you do only have 30 minutes to exercise, split it up and do:

  • 15 minutes of 3-4 full-body exercises for strength training either with bodyweight or dumbbells. 
  • 10 minutes metabolic interval training with bodyweight exercises (burpees, squats, mountain climbers, jumping lunges) 

Myth: Cardio is the most effective way to get lean and shed body fat

Truth: High intensity interval training with weights will get you leaner than cardio 

Cardio will absolutely help you burn calories and shed body fat however, the more effective desired outcome is an exercise in which you will build muscle mass because muscle increases the number of calories you burn at rest. The most effective exercise is strength training to build muscle and combine it with high-intensity interval training. You can read here on why this will get you leaner than cardio. Remember that in order to lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit, so be mindful of your eating habits as well.

Myth: Weight Training will result in large bulky muscles in women

Truth: Weight training in combination with a surplus of calories will increase muscle mass

If you begin training with weights and you eat the same number of calories you will not become bulky because muscle mass comes from weight training in addition to a surplus of calories. The truth is that consistent resistance training will speed up your metabolism, you will enhance fat burning during exercise, and due to the after-burn effect, you will continue to burn fat hours after the exercise session has finished. Over time, with more muscle on your frame you will become leaner and the higher your basal metabolic rate will be. To become bulky, you would have to intentionally eat a lot of food because muscle mass is built from food. In addition, the reason men have an easier time building muscle is because they have more testosterone than women, which is the hormone that increases muscle mass. Weight training will increase strength, yet not necessarily a significant increase in muscle size because being a female puts you at a disadvantage to ‘bulk up.’ 

Myth: Strength training means going to the gym to use machines and barbells

Truth: Strength training can be executed with bodyweight exercises at home

Strength training is simply resisting your muscles and doesn’t need to be done with machines. You can easily incorporate bodyweight exercises such as push ups, tricep dips, squats, lunges at home. You can even get medicine balls or resistance bands to step it up further. If you are doing bodyweight exercises or are using something like a resistance band all you have to do is increase frequency and volume by doing more repetitions. Plus, it is more effective to start and get good at bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges so you can perfect your form before adding weight and risking injury. 

Myth: Abs are made in the kitchen

Truth: Abs are built in the gym and revealed in the kitchen 

As you would develop any muscle abs are in fact built in the gym, however in order to see the definition of the abs, overall body fat must be lost to reveal your abs. Doing ab focused exercises will build abs, but if your nutrition is not dialed in, they may be hiding under a layer of body fat. Therefore, the combination of diet and exercise will help abs to be visibly defined.