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A look at exercise myths and truths

Research is continually bringing us newer, safer and more effective exercise and fitness information. Unfortunately, many "exercisers" adhere to the misinformation that has persevered through the years. Here are a few of the most common myths and misinformation still seen today:

MYTH: Ab exercises will get rid of abdominal fat. You will not lose fat by targeting specific areas of the body. While ab exercises are important for developing strength and building endurance, they will not reduce or remove body fat. You could perform 600 situps a day and the body fat sitting on top of that muscle would remain sitting on top of that muscle. There is no such thing as "spot reducing." To lose fat in a specific area, you must lose overall body fat, and you cannot predict the area in which you will lose fat. Want to reduce body fat? Try a mix of high-intensity cardio (it doesn't have to be high impact) and total body strength training. And don't forget that eating habits play a pivotal role.

MYTH: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn. Sweating may be an indicator of the intensity at which you are working, but it is not an indicator of calories burned. If you notice an immediate drop in weight after a "sweaty" workout, it is only water weight, and the weight loss will last only until you rehydrate.

MYTH: Perform static stretches before a workout. Once upon a time, static stretching (stretch and hold) for 30 to 60 seconds was considered essential before a workout, to avoid pulled muscles. The current theory is that without the body being somewhat warmed up, you can damage muscles and tendons. Today, dynamic stretching (stretching in motion) is preferred, as it better prepares your muscles for a workout. By performing low-intensity movements that are similar to those you'll be doing during your workout, you'll improve mobility and flexibility. Save static stretches for the end of the workout. They're perfect for a cooldown, decreasing muscle tension and helping the body return to a relaxed state.

MYTH: Not being sore means you did not have a good workout. There are better ways to judge the quality of your workout. Soreness is not necessarily an indication of a good strength workout. As long as you reach muscle fatigue, you've have had a successful workout. If you're a beginner, it's perfectly normal to feel a little sore. As your body adapts to exercise, that postworkout soreness will disappear.

MYTH: Lifting weights will make women bulky. Women need not be afraid to put down those 2- to 3-pound weights and pick up heavier ones. Women do not have nearly the amount of testosterone to put on muscle mass as men do.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at

Forearm plank: Strengthens the entire core, improves posture and reduces back pain.

Begin in a pushup position. Place your lower arms on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders and your feet hip width apart, supporting your weight on your hands and toes with your back parallel to the floor, straight line from head to toe. Contract your abdominals to help keep your back from sagging or lifting upward.

Hold this position, breathing slowly and deeply, until you lose your form.

Work on increasing the time until you can reach two minutes with proper form.

Tip: Modify the plank by lowering your knees to the floor, keeping your abdominals contracted.

Lunge with shoulder press: Targets the shoulders, triceps, buttocks and legs.

Holding a weight in each hand, contract your abdominals and stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart.

Bend your elbows, holding the weights in front of your shoulders, palms facing inward.

Step forward with the right leg into a lunge position, both knees bent about 90 degrees.

Return to standing, then extend your arms straight upward, near the ears.

Bring the weights back to the shoulder.

Repeat eight to 10 times, change legs and repeat the pattern.

Tip: To modify, extend one arm at a time.

Opposite arm and leg reach: This is a total body workout.

Begin in a hand-knee position. Holding a light to medium weight in your right hand, palm facing in, extend your right arm to shoulder height while lifting your left leg no higher than the hip. Contract your abdominals to maintain a flat back throughout the movement.

Bring your right arm and left leg in to meet each other, then extend your arm and leg back out, repeating eight to 10 times. Change arm and leg and repeat the pattern.

Tip: Use smooth, controlled movements.

A look at exercise myths and truths 12/12/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:26am]
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