You know what else is amazing? The amount of informational garbage out there confusing audiences the world over. The biggest casualty? Women. Yes ladies, it’s true. You’re being brainwashed into believing you’re some other human species. This is a tragedy because frankly, as much as I don’t understand women (really, what man does?) I do understand these common female-fitness misconceptions.
1. You can’t spot-reduce fat.
“10-Minute abs!” or “Flat-tummies in 10 days or less!” are common themes in the fitness industry. There’s even a trend where you saran-wrap yourself with Preparation-H-like goop to “spot target” fat on your stomach, hips, and legs. It’s all crap. All of it. This concept is fictional and may even be dangerous (do not use Preparation-H on your stomach please.)
Your body has fat all over it and inside of it. These fat-cells line everything and are used as an energy source. You cannot under any circumstances spot-reduce fat just by willing it to. As most of you can guess, I’ve been asked “How can I lose my stomach without losing my breasts or butt?” This won’t happen. If there’s fat, and you’ve created a fat-burning environment in your body, it loses it from everywhere. It’s a pretty common trend to lose it from the outside/in; as in, you’ll first notice fat loss the furthest away from your midsection, and then slowly but surely reach your midsection last. This is important because your face and fingers don’t house your heart, liver, stomach, or ovaries; these outer-extremities don’t need so much fat on them to improve/hinder function.
So ladies (and men of course), you cannot do 1,000 crunches and get a flat stomach. You cannot do 1,000 crunches and get a flat stomach. You cannot do 1,000 crunches and get a flat stomach. You will, however, get a ridiculously strong 6-pack under your fat.
2. Hours of cardio a week is all you need to burn fat.
It’s pretty common to walk in a huge gym (I hope to have one in the future) and see a very large divide in the fitness areas; women are stapled to the cardio equipment and men are grunting savages in the weight room. It’s almost like walking into the wild and seeing animals in their natural habitats. Besides us reaching our ancestral roots, it’s understandable why this divide occurs; women want to be “slim” and men want to be hulking powerful beasts. I get it, you know, testosterone and all. However, I have a problem with this trend.
Most female-friendly media outlets love to discuss cardio as a woman’s means to reaching her desired body composition. It’s constantly touted that you, ladies, only need to “eat less and move more,” so you spend hours briskly walking on the treadmill and reading these same magazines. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s also a load of bull. If you can read something while you exercise, you’re not exercising hard enough. If you leave your workout looking as pretty as you did when you walked in, you wasted your time and should feel bad. Men, if you’re reading this, it applies to you too.
Unless you’re training for a long-distance event (marathons, 5k’s, Color Runs) long-term steady-state cardio is a huge waste of time. Sure, you reap the benefits of its cardiovascular-improving qualities and I advocate reaching that. I’d wager you’re probably doing this steady-state cardio as a means to lose weight, and in this pursuit, it just doesn’t work. Losing fat isn’t supposed to be easy. You can’t drastically change your body without making drastic changes.
Plus, runners are the most likely to experience injury for a multitude of reasons; poor equipment (shoes), poor mobility, overtraining, high-impact repetitive stress (RSI), and what have you. Check out a men’s health magazine every once in a while; you won’t see this theme perpetuated. Also, check out a body-composition visual comparison between female long-distance runners and short-distance runners if you don’t believe me:
You may notice that both runner types are “toned,” but only one looks feminine, strong, and healthy. That’s the sprinter, and you can bet she doesn’t do long-distance running (and lifts heavy weight). So if you’re fond of the term “toning,” I have news for you,
3. “Toning” is a female-sensitive word that means nothing.
The concept of “toning” has been around since before the 70’s and took the female-fitness world by storm. Whereas male fitness language is “building,” “grow,” or “peel,” in reference to muscles, women are fed, “Tighten,” “slim,” or “tone,” as if their bodies function differently than males.
Of course your body functions differently from males.
You’re a woman; a strong individual that has to deal with male BS and also carry children. That’s amazing. You know what you have that men don’t? Ovaries. Your female sex-hormones are in quite different ratios to males. Females have a load more estrogen (female hormone) and miniscule amounts of testosterone (male hormone), and men are the opposite. Estrogen promotes water retention, fat retention, breast-growth, and inhibits muscle growth. Testosterone promotes fat-loss, muscle-building, and hair-growth (just to name a couple things). As you can see, yes, it is more difficult for women to lose fat. This by no means changes how men and women should exercise. Women and men can do the exact same things and make progress; it may just take women a little longer.
“Toning” is essentially the same as what any fitness-oriented individual seeks; less fat and more muscle, so you look more sculpted. So if you want to keep using this term, go for it. But understand that as long as your bodyfat percentage doesn’t change, your “toning” efforts build muscle you can hardly see under all that fat. Speaking of muscles,
4. Women are terrified of growing “bulky” if they lift weights.
If you’ve ever sat on the ground and tried to get up, it probably doesn’t involve how fast you can move your feet, and if you can do it for 45 minutes straight. However, you need to bend and twist and push your way up. These are important mechanisms for survival, and thus, (I’m still looking at you Bogus Media!) these muscles need to be worked. Now, let’s say you do occasionally step foot in the muscle-area of the gym. Is it common for you to do a full-body circuit on the machines? From what I’ve noticed, this is a common theme. Machine-assisted isolation exercises are quite easy, and everyone is fond of using them (myself included). However, a growing trend with women is to “spot-target” their core, or arms, or shoulders. Statistics show women want flatter stomachs, and “toned” arms and shoulders. The media has convinced women that this is attainable through using “lighter weights, and more repetitions.” You know what’s attainable through lighter load, and more repetition? The long-distance runner’s physique. Here, check that out again:
You have two types of muscle fibers; Aerobic and Anaerobic (slow-twitch and fast-twitch). Higher volume and less stress promote more use of your aerobic muscles; these are your endurance muscles. They’re pretty important differences; ask our ancient ancestors. If you need to chase after a gazelle, or flee from a lion, you want to be able to run for hours on end. However, if you want to chase down a rabbit for dinner, you need to be a little more explosive. That’s where your low-endurance, explosive, anaerobic muscles come from.
Now that the science lesson is over, understand this: you have to train both types of muscles. This means ladies, please lift as heavy as you’d like. You know what’s lovely about this? Your estrogen and low-levels of testosterone make it physically impossible for you to get “bulky” or “mannish” if these hormones are in normal ranges. You know what you will notice though? Your body-composition will drastically change, your fat will be reduced, and you’ll be much more confident doing every-day things. And yes, muscles will shrink waist sizes and keep you feminine.
5. Salads and fad diets are failures.
Of course if you’ve made it this far, it may seem that I’m making blanket statements about all women. I hope I haven’t given that impression; I’m mostly targeting my ire at the media clouding your attention about scientific facts. Unless you’ve been in the field I’ve been in, it may not always be a prevalent information choice of yours. Now, I’ve seen it fairly often; women, when ready to lose weight, go straight to fruit, salads, and smaller portions. You know what’s correct about this? The fruit and smaller portions. Forget salads.
Your body has a metabolic expenditure you’ll have every single day; it’s how much energy (calories) your body will use every day just to live. Admittedly, it’s less than the average male’s because you have a number of different factors influencing it (less muscle mass, higher bodyfat percentage, less testosterone.) However, this doesn’t mean calorie-free salads are the go-to choice.
You can still eat 5 times a day, feel fuller longer, and lose fat, and build muscle, without touching a single salad. Salads are a healthy option, but should definitely have the macronutrients you need.
If your fats, carbohydrates, and protein intake are all in constructive ranges for your body, you can eat once a day or 5 times a day and still see progress. I advocate smaller meals more often (to eliminate cravings, binges, and maintain steady insulin levels) but you just do you. Know what your body needs, and eat it. This applies to everyone. Restriction should only be on unhealthy foods and total overall calories; not restricting whole meal types simply because salads are the common “diet” theme. Ladies, eat more protein. You’d be shocked how happy it’ll make you.