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Fitness: Ask Why!

by Oscar Saucedo

I wish I had the time to help all those people I see blindly following bad advice and believing fitness myths.  But I’ll promise to try if you promise to ASK WHY next time someone is giving you advice on your fitness routine.  A knowledgeable person will always be able to tell you exactly why he or she believes their advice is good. Here is a short list of some of the myths I see too often believed in Laredo:

If you are sweating, you are burning fat. This myth is why I see people using the sauna as their “cardio”, wearing the plastic sweat suits (or saran wrap, or fajas), and/or running in the streets of Laredo in 115°Fweather.  As you sweat, you are really only losing water and electrolytes.  That can eventually lead to dehydration—and that is the opposite of what you want.  To burn the most fat, you must remain properly hydrated.  You don’t have to sweat to lose fat, and you aren’t necessarily burning fat just because you are sweating.

Women should not lift heavy weights.  This myth is the reason I hear “I don’t want to get too big”.  But lifting heavy weight is the best way to slim down!  You will lose fat size so much faster than you will put on muscle size.  Those fitness models you might look up to didn’t get that way lifting light weight.  I understand that the vast majority of women do not want to have manly amounts of muscle. But that is actually rare.  Most women will never be overly muscular, no matter how heavy they lift or how much they eat.  

Protein powder makes you gain weight.  Eating too many donuts and other high-calorie foods makes you gain weight. But protein powder can be a low calorie alternative to a regular meal.  You can think of it as a “high-tech food”.  By that, I mean that it’s designed to deliver a high amount of benefit using a low amount of calories.  That benefit is more than just gaining muscle size.  Very few people actually want to build hugemuscles, but all of us want our entire body to be fully recovered and energized.   

If you stop working out, the muscle you build turns to fat.  Fat is fat and muscle is muscle.  They don’t transform into one another.  So if you’ve built a good amount of muscle and you stop working out, your muscles will probably shrink and you will probably gain some fat to cover up that muscle, but your muscle does not turn into fat.  

Use light weights to increase definition.  No.  This comes from people that say they just want to “tone up”.  But that toned look comes from increasing muscle size and lowering body fat.  You should have a clear plan to accomplish both goals.  By simply choosing an easy weight to lift, you aren’t toning up. You are just going through the motions, counting reps, and likely not seeing much change in your body.

To get abs, you must do tons of ab work.  Ab work is good for you.  It strengthens your core, improves posture, and can help reduce back injuries. But doing ab work works the muscles of your front mid-section.  You really aren’t doing anything about those layers of fat covering your abs. Everyone has ab muscles.  But you must shed the fat over the abs using a good diet and cardio routine.  There’s no way around that.

With so much good information available on demand at your fingerprints, ignorance is a choice.  I’ll never know how these myths start.  But I do know that bad information is common everywhere.  Don’t be too shy to ask why.  If the reason doesn’t make sense to you, do your research.  

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