The misconception/s below are based on what I’ve heard from friends. They are really hard to get over. This is my attempt to get you over them and to do the right thing instead.
Misconception #1: Working your abs will let you lose belly fat!
What holds you back from having a six-pack is not the lack of ab muscles, but rather the sweet jacket of fat dressing them slenderly. Resulting from that, working out your abs without reducing the corpulence of your belly will result in an even bigger looking core. Those muscles pressing the fat from the inside to protruded further into thin air. Right, but if you’d train your abs the fat around them will burn away first! Wrong! Where the body reduces the fat cushions first is his decision alone. And by “decision” I meant to say, look into its DNA to ask for advice. This predisposition can’t be changed but worked with! There is a certain order in which parts of the body energy in the form of fat is stored first. Let’s say I want to go out on a limb and propose an, a little offensive, order in which body parts fat is stored first, I wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say: first hips, abs, thighs and then chest. The opposite order would be just about correct for losing it again. Of course, different order for different bodies. At least, you know now where the wording “problem regions” comes from :).
Only general fat reduction leads to a flat belly.
Misconception #2: Lifting weights will make you look bulky!
Working out heavy weights and ‘manly exercises” make you look bulky! Yes, combined with low levels of estrogen, high levels testosterone, and a genetic disposition towards male secondary sex characteristics, you will look bulkier when you work out a lot, and with heavy weights. If this is a profile that doesn’t fit your sex, then congratulations, you are a woman. These factors make up such a big part in how the body will react to stimuli through weight training that you are, most likely, not getting noticeably bulkier from it. I can see that you don’t want to look like the next female bodybuilding champion, and I can guarantee you, you won’t, so give it a try to work out those muscles. If you reeeeally start to look massive, just cut the exercise you put on those “bulkier” areas towards other areas that need more impulse to grow. Since not only the fat composition of your body is predefined, but also which muscles would grow to which extent.
In general, working out leads to a better and leaner general figure, and a tighter butt!
Misconception #3: Cardio will make you thin!
Rapid weight loss, or in a more mainstreamed word “diet”, does not correlate on how the human body works. Humans evolved in a time of scarcity. So, the body evolved to be really efficient in terms of putting energy into use. Before our bodies wastes energy, meaning glucose, it would be put into silos (fat depots). This enables us to still maintain functionality in scarcer periods. Nowadays, this scarcity becomes rarer, in the western world I would even argue that generally spoken the opposite is the case, but evolution does not adapt this quickly. As a consequence, our body won’t give up excess fat easily, but store it as soon as it can get a hold of a sureplus. So, this bag of chips will hardly be burned by sitting in front of the TV, but rather find its way to one’s hips without a detour. Where evolutionary adaption is not an option, your body will adapt anyway by having energy available more readily and also increase the threshold of fatigue through regular exercise. This adaptation makes every successive workout easier and for one to endure longer.
Fat serves as a last resort of energy after having depleted the more readily available reserves in the blood, muscles and liver. The organism breakes fat down into its parts releasing ATP – the main energy source in the body – when the storage in non-fat cells is empty. For this reason, cardio is only effectively “burning” fat after a serious amount of time – when ATP reservoirs in the muscles are empty -, which can easily be longer than 45 minutes. After the cardio the secondary energy pools are replenished first, from a possible huge treat you are giving yourself after a rather exhaustive run. Right? This is why cardio is not efficient for you to lose weight.
Increasing the ratio of muscles to fat will take you there much easier and it will last longer. While working out a little energy is burned as well, but the “afterburn” in the relaxation and in the phase of muscle growth, up to 48 hours after the workout, is what gets it really started. Muscle mass uses more energy in rest than fat. Therefor, every bit of fat you replace with muscle tissue will ultimately increase your basal metabolic rate – the energy you burn while resting.
A greater muscle to fat ratio will ultimately burn more fat while resting than cardio activities.
Misconception #4: A lot of sport will let your body fat melt!
Where sport can help you get an overall better body shape and make you fitter, and therefore burn more energy throughout the day, a better diet will be imperative, not only to support your goals, but make up the bigger part of losing or gaining weight – about two-thirds compared to other factors like training and genetics. What I described in my article about gaining weight was that it all comes down to subtracting the output of energy from the intake of energy to the human system. Meaning that a negative result will leave you with a weight loss and a positive number with a gain. Hence, if you eat fewer calories than you use up throughout the day, fat reserves will have to be consulted to make up the difference. A surplus will end in stock (fat depots) for later use. If you really want to change something about your body composition you should decrease your daily intake of calories slowly compared to the amount of energy your body needs to work. If you let your body starve than it will switch to a kind of emergency mode, pulling back to high fat inlay as soon as calories are served again (yo-yo effect). Letting your body slowly adapt to a scarcer intake will make you reach your goals over time. And I’m talking months or years instead of days or weeks. A good mean would be to go for a constant 100-200 calories a day less compared to your basal metabolic rate – resulting in 100-200 grams of weight loss per week. That’s, on the one hand, easy to reach, and keeps,however , your body’s emergency bells quiet.
Instead of investing a lot of hours in sports, invest the time in a healthier diet. Sport is complementary, but does not serve weight loss primarily.
All written above is not a general rule, but different for each person person.
Questions you should ask yourself:
What is my goal?
By when do you want to reach it?
Can I divide my goals into smaller milestones?
How can I measure my goals?