Freytag: Fitness Myth Busters

“The difference between a myth and a fact is good science.” I love this phrase…. You see, fitness and weight loss don’t need to be complicated, but I often overhear gym-goers discussing fitness advice that just isn’t true. Let me try to shed some light on several urban myths by looking at the science.Myth: You have to walk slowly to burn body fat. You use two types of fuel when you exercise: fat and glucose (carbohydrates/sugars break down into glucose in your body). Yes, your body uses more fat as its fuel choice when walking at a moderate pace. However, your calorie burn is also moderate. When you pick up the pace and walk or run with a high intensity, your body uses more glucose as fuel but burns calories at a faster rate. The bottom line is that most hardworking people are too busy to take a leisurely stroll for two hours. TAKEAWAY: Therefore, pick up the pace and your effort to melt body fat faster. Make the most of your exercise minutes—whether you have 10 minutes or 60 minutes, use them well. Myth: Heavy weights will bulk women up like a guy. For you female readers, put your mind at ease. This just isn’t possible for most women. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us women aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for “man muscles.” Having more muscle on your body (both men and women) ensures that you will use more calories throughout the day, which is important as we age. If you do feel like you are gaining too much muscle (genetics plays a role), then using lighter weights with higher reps is still a good option and will help tone and firm. TAKEAWAY: Add strength training to your weekly routine. Even if you focus on just one muscle group a day and do three exercises, three sets of 15 each for that muscle group, you will benefit. You can divide your training up throughout the week. But muscle is the secret to a revved-up metabolism. Myth: Squats make your butt big. This one cracks me up. We all know what makes your butt big, and it isn’t squats. As a matter of fact, all of us who sit in front of a computer all day or at a desk or in an airplane seat risk developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it. Science shows that squats will help to lift, firm and strengthen your buns. Focus on good form, keeping your knees above your shoelaces, and sit back into an imaginary chair. Then squeeze back up through your glutes. TAKEAWAY: Add squats to your regimen. Try regular squats or even wall squats: Use a stability ball behind your back and slide up and down the wall while squeezing your glutes. Do three sets of 15 three to five days a week. Add hand weights for extra resistance. Myth: Working out on an empty stomach will help you burn more body fat. This one is far from true. An empty stomach isn’t the answer to fat burning. You need to have some glucose in your system. Your body burns a mixture of fat and glucose as you exercise at moderate to hard intensity. If you like to work out first thing in the morning or after a long day at work, make sure to eat some carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout. TAKEAWAY: Eat a small snack before your workouts to ensure success, like a granola bar, a banana, whole-grain toast, whole-grain cereal. Eat just one serving size, though—don’t overdo it. Resources: From the SUCCESS store: SUCCESS fitness combo, including Move to Lose DVD by Chris Freytag, Fitness that Fits: A Realistic Way to Reshape Your Body DVD by David Kirsch and Eating for Life hardcover book by Bill Phillips


Chris Freytag has dedicated her adult life to motivating people to lead healthier lives. A contributing editor to Prevention magazine, she's also written two books, Shortcuts to Big Weight Loss, and her latest, 2-Week Total Body Turnaround. She also has appeared on NBC's Today show and MSNBC's Weekend Update.

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