"I just want to lose fat around my stomach and nowhere else." "I just want to tone my inner thighs." "Lifting weights is just going to turn me into a man!" I have heard these statements from women about 3,000 times. Those 3 desires have one thing in common; they are pretty much impossible.
Myth 1: Spot Reduction
Let's start off with the theory of burning fat or toning a certain area of the body. Toning involves two constituents: adipose tissue (the subcutaneous body fat) and muscle tissue. In order to appear more toned, a reduction in body fat and increase in muscle mass will have to occur.
The human body does not allow spot reducing, which would include losing fat exclusively in the abdominal area. If you were to lose weight, it would occur all over your entire body. Unfortunately, body fat is not necessarily reduced evenly.
People often have trouble areas where the fat is last to go. Women especially find this to be their stomach, legs or arms. There is not much that can be done about this aside from continuing to lean out.
A reduction in body fat occurs when a person is in a caloric deficit. This occurs with two variables: decreasing the amount of calories you consume, increasing the amount of exercise you participate in, or doing both. Resistance training is used to help build and maintain muscle tissue, while cardiovascular training is a tool used to help achieve a caloric deficit.
Here is a statement that many of you probably do not want to believe: There is no exercise out there that is going to burn fat off of your body in a specific area! No resistance training exercise will help tone or reduce fat on top of any muscle in your body. It is a reduction of calories and an increase in exercise that will take care of that.
There is a very big misconception regarding that "burn" you feel after performing many repetitions during an exercise. Some people actually believe that is the fat melting off the body right before our very eyes! That burn is actually caused by lactic acid, which is used by your muscles to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for immediate energy.
I often see a female lying on the ground at the gym performing sets of 100 crunches. She probably assumes that burning sensation is actually helping her "toning her stomach". If you are performing a set of 100 repetitions on any exercise, don't you think it is time to move on to something a little harder?
Myth 2: Losing Your Femininity
The theory that lifting weights will cause a woman to appear bulky and manly is completely false. I used resistance training to bring my body weight up 60 pounds over the course of about five years.
I must say that the actual weight training was the easy part. The difficult part included eating like a horse, because a calorie surplus is needed to gain muscle mass. I often gagged during some meals as I was pretty much force-feeding myself like a mother would to a small child eating their vegetables.
Now, I am pretty sure that most women do not force feed themselves by mistake. Extreme muscle mass gains are not something that occurs out of the blue. You have to really want it for it to happen. It is pretty safe to say that muscle gain is much, much harder than fat loss for most people.
Another little fact that most women forget is testosterone. Testosterone is a very anabolic hormone found in the human body, males and females, which is very important for gains in muscle mass. Men usually have about ten times more testosterone than women.
Even if a woman were to put the time into eating a crazy amount, it would still be about ten times harder to look like a man. It sounds like it is fairly difficult for a woman to gain an incredible amount of muscle mass and be mistaken for a man, doesn't it?
Myth 3: Avoiding Chest Exercises
Another fairly popular fallacy is the theory that a woman should not perform any chest exercises, as this would "shrink her breasts". A woman's breasts are an area of fat deposit just like anywhere else on her body. The breasts will shrink as body fat levels of the entire body are reduced.
Resistance exercises for the chest would not cause a reduction in size. In fact, it might help your breasts appear larger as you can stimulate growth of your pectoral muscles. The larger pectoral muscles would help push out the fat found on your breasts and assist them in looking bigger.
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Myth 4: Eating Less To Lose Weight
Most women claim to have a sound diet, but this usually ends up being in the form of a starvation diet. It probably includes skipping breakfast, eating a salad at lunch and one slice of cheese for dinner if you are lucky.
Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day for a reason. Your body is begging for fuel, as it has not received any in most likely a good eight to ten hours. Skipping meals frequently actually slows your metabolism down as it is much more beneficial to eat five to six smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day.
A lot of people are always confused by this as they think eating so frequently will cause them to gain weight. This simply is not true unless you eat many calories above your maintenance level.
Let's say 1,500 calories is adequate for your goal of weight loss. Instead of eating two 700-calorie meals, five meals consisting of about 300 calories would be much better. If you happen to eat 500 calories for one meal and 200 calories for another, this will not break you. As long as you finish the day with the same amount of calories and you eat several times per day, you will be fine.
There Is No Replacement For Hard Work
I have known too many ladies who have purchased far too many fitness gadgets seen on television at 4am on any random weeknight. There are things like the famous "ab belts," which "electronically stimulate your abdominal muscles".
How many people actually think a little belt will trim down belly fat without breaking a sweat at all? I think we have struck gold here! There isn't an overweight person in the world anymore due to this cool belt!
Wait, it is time to enter reality again as there are no tricks or gadgets that replace the hard work you have to put in to achieve your goal. It all comes down to diet and exercise, which has always been the equation and always will be.
I have thrown a lot of information at you, and you are probably wondering what you should do. Well, I hope you have realized that resistance training is an important tool you can use to achieve a better-looking body.
These are the biggest bang for your buck exercises, as you are using many muscle groups. Focus on performing variations of these exercises at least twice a week for about 40 minutes, and you will reap the benefits in your physique.
Do not forget to include cardiovascular training, which doesn't have to be running on a treadmill. It is important to find an activity you enjoy and look forward to, such as hiking, tennis, swimming or even rowing a boat.
If you love the activity you perform, you are much more likely to stick to your program in the long run, which will improve your chance of succeeding.
The Importance Of Diet
A sound diet is just as important as exercise, if not more important. Make sure to eat frequently throughout the day, but control the portion sizes.
Eating the right types of foods will definitely help your progress as well. Protein rich foods are very important, as they are necessary for recovery from your workouts. Lean meats, eggs, and whey protein are great examples.
Moderate carbohydrates should also be included in your diet, as it is your body's main fuel source after all. Whole grains are the keys here as they are much slower digesting and help keep you fuller longer.
Fruits and vegetables also need to be incorporated as they are packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for everyday body functions. The fiber found in them promotes digestive health as well as helps keep your belly satisfied.
All the pieces of the puzzle must be taken into consideration for you to reach your goals. Make sure to treat every aspect as important as the others.