Myth No.1 – You must workout for more than 20 Minutes to Burn Fat
A lot of people who do not find the time to exercise use this excuse to not exercise at all! In today’s fast-world, keeping aside 60 minutes of one’s time at one stretch could be difficult for a lot of people. Instead of putting in one marathon 1 hour or a 1 and a half hour workout once or twice a week, it is far more beneficial to a time-strapped person if he can do even 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity twice a day or whenever he / she has the time. Most people you meet will tell you that your body will not start to burn fat unless you exercise for atleast 20 minutes. The common advice is that 45 minutes of constant aerobic activity is when the weight loss starts to happen. It is indeed true that your body turns to carbs and not fat in the early stages of a workout routine. It is also scientifically true that your body starts to use up more fat and less of carbs the longer you workout. But this theory tends to ignore what happens after you finish a workout – which is when the number of fat calories that you have burned tends to rise.
Look at it this way. In order to lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit so that you burn more calories than you currently consume. And it does not make much of a difference whether those calories are spent in one long workout or several shorter ones. Some research carried out at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine clearly underlined this fact. For the study, a group of obese women were assigned to one of two groups. Group 1 did a single session of exercise that lasted between 20 – 40 minutes. Group No. 2 performed the same amount of workouts but it was split into smaller sessions lasting just ten minutes each.
Five months later, the women who had split their workouts into smaller sessions had lost about 20 pounds compared to just 14 pounds in the other group. The Reason: The women in Group 2 actually exercised with more intensity than the women in Group 1 because they found it easier to fit in shorter workouts in their routine.
Remember Fat is stored energy. In order to lose it, you have to burn more calories than you are getting from your diet. And it does not matter whether you are burning those calories in one long marathon session or from several smaller ones. Both approaches work!
Myth No.2 – One Pound of Muscle Burns 50 – 100 Cals per Day
As a fitness buff you might have heard this – “Muscle burns calories 24 / 7 even when you are sleeping or sitting at a desk” The myth is that for every pound of new muscle, your body will be burning an extra 60 calories of fat every day. Add 10 kilos of muscle mass and you will be automatically burning a huge amount of muscle every year or so they say. truth of the matter is that when you gain muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate (basically the number of cals that your body burns at rest) does tend to rise. But this increase is not so dramatic as some would believe. Also fat is not simply dead tissue. Even fat burns calories when you rest. Fat performs the function of secreting proteins such as leptin or cytokines which can also affect your metabolism. According to estimates, fat has a daily metabolic rate of two calories per pound per day while muscle burns six calories per pound. So losing two pounds of fat and gaining two pounds of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate by just 8 calories.
Also unless a person is grossly overweight or if a person is just embarking on a physical fitness routine after a long time, very few people gain lots of muscle and lose lots of fats at the same time. Your body is not very efficient at doing both at the same time. Which is why it is a good idea to focus on only one of either goals when you are trying to get into shape – building muscle while minimizing fat gain or losing fat and preserving muscle. Also here is something for all those yoga enthusiasts, runners and cyclists – If you do not do some sort of resistance exercises, most of the weight you lose will be muscle and not fat.
Myth No. 3 – Weight Training is Too Time Consuming
Most people are resistant to sticking to a regular exercise routine because of a lack of time. One simple way to cut down on the time that you spend in the gym is to male your workouts more dense. This can be achieved when you do supersets. Most regular weight training routines require you to do one set of an exercise, rest for a minute and then return back to the same exercise. But it is this rest period that adds up to the total time you spend in the gym or with your personal trainer. Wherease with supersets, you move fast from one exercise to another with little or zero rest in between. In other words, rather than resting between sets, you exercise another muscle group. Supersets are also commonly referred to as ‘Compound Sets’ or ‘Staggered Sets’. They are all variations of the same idea.
A superset usually involves several sets of two exercises for opposing muscle groups. For example the biceps curl and the triceps dip. A compound set is the superset for the same muscle group (two back-to-back exercises for the biceps). With staggered sets you workout one muscle group and then with little or zero rest perform another exercise for a smaller muscle group in a different part of your body. For example you could alternate squatting with dumbell curls.
A superset weight training program will raise your metabolic rate in the hours following your workout which means that you will be burning more fat. Superset or staggered sets are excellent options for those who are strapped for time and want to be in and out of the gym in 30 to 40 minutes.
Myth No. 4 – Combining Cardio and Weight Training is Best for Losing Weight
Ok this ones meant to stump you. A mix of Cardio and Weight Training is great if you are trying to lose weight. But most people forget to add another crucial aspect of a weight loss program – diet! In a study conducted at Penn State University, a group of women took part in a 12-week program of diet and exercise. Each woman was assigned to one of the following 4 groups:
- Did Nothing
- Followed a Low Fat High Carb Diet
- Followed a strict diet with regular aerobic exercise
- Followed a strict diet but added aerobic exercise + weight training
Well, all three groups except 1 lost weight. But the weight loss proportion was the highest in the women who combined a low-calorie diet and combined it with aerobic exercise. But the women who trained with weights + aerobic exercise lost the most weight. If your goal is to lose fat, then exercise – be it weight training, Pilates or Yoga – itself wont be enough. You will have to eat right too!
Myth No. 5 – You Can Lose Fat and Build Muscle at the Same Time
Except for a few exceptions, losing lots of fat and gaining a lot of muscle mass at the same time is tough. This is because both activities place opposing demands on your body. To build muscle mass your body needs energy which means you will have to overfeed. This will ensure that you are ingesting more calories than you are burning every day. To lose fat you will have to underfeed i.e. eat fewer calories than you can burn daily. If you attempt to do both at once, your progress in either direction will frustratingly slow and it wont be long before you lose hope and give up on your weight loss goals.
Aarti Khaitan is an accomplished personal trainer for functional fitness, mixed martial arts and yoga. With over ten years of experience in the fitness industry in Mumbai and having handled sales and in-house fitness and counseling for reputed gyms and fitness studios, she now handles corporate wellness and fitness solutions for Wellintra Fitness. Aarti can be reached on 98206 07875.