Sex, Lies and Videotape

Confession…no sex, but definitely lies and video clips (if you’re as old as me you know what videotape actually is).  I had to get your attention somehow.  

Today’s post was prompted by a discussion I had with one of my clients the other day.  She works out primarily at a “Y” facility that just seems to be one of those gyms that has some good stuff going on…”women and weights” class, treadmill interval class, TRX classes…good stuff.  So I was really shocked when I learned that the spinning instructors and the Polar Heart Rate Monitor rep who recently visited are STILL telling people to stay in the “fat burning zone.”  Are you kidding me?  I thought we had dispelled with that nonsense years ago.  So, just in case you haven’t heard the news…the “fat burning zone” is a waste of your time.  If you still believe this is the best way to lose weight, please keep reading.  

In a nutshell…at different heart rate levels your body will use differing amounts of fat vs carbohydrates for its energy source.  At lower heart rate levels your body will use proportionally more fat than carbohydrates for energy.  So, for example, in the “fat burning zone” your body might be deriving 40% of its energy from fat and 60% from carbohydrates.  At you move out of the “fat burning zone” and into higher heart rate zones your body will start to use proportionally more carbohydrates and less fat, say 80% carbohydrate and 20% fat.  The “logic” behind staying in the “fat burning zone” is that you are using up more fat for your energy.  Yet the problem with this argument is that at lower heart rates you are burning fewer total calories.  The harder you work, the more calories you burn.  So if two people are sitting in a spin class and one spends the entire hour in the “fat burning zone” (sorry, I have to keep putting it in quotations because it is a LIE) and the other spends some of her time in the “fat burning zone” and some of her time in the aerobic and anaerobic zones (gasp!) who do you think is going to burn more calories?  The one who spends time outside the “fat burning zone.”  And if you’re trying to lose weight, isn’t that really the name of the game?  For more explanation and another example, see Mike Boyle’s blog post “Is There a Fat Burning Zone and Does It Matter?”

Next up is one of my favorite articles by Krista Scott-Dixon titled Lies in the Gym.  This is an article written for women…but guys, please keep reading so you can enlighten the women in your life…we need all the help we can get.  Krista has a great sense of humor…

The other day, reading a fitness magazine, I learned that yoga will firm my breasts (it won’t, unless they meant to write “plastic surgeon” instead of “yoga”),

In her article she discusses 8 different “lies:”

  1. Weight Training Will Make You Huge and Masculine.  I have been trying to give you some examples of women who weight train and are so not huge and masculine…here’s another one, Karli, who is sumo deadlifting 225 for 5.  Hhe’s not huge or masculine, but she is strong. 
  2. Men Train, Women Tone.  A personal pet peeve.  I would say most of my clients list “toning” as a goal on the forms they fill out before training with me.  I ignore it.  I am going to train them with more than 5 lb dumbbells.  I think women feel comfortable with the word”toning” because it doesn’t sound like “big and muscular.”     
  3. There is a Difference Between Toning, Sculpting and Firming.  Magazines love to use these words as if doing one exercise will “tone,” and another exercise will “sculpt.”  I call that marketing BS…they want you to buy their magazine. 
  4. Muscles Grow Different Ways Depending on How You Work Them.  If you have ever heard someone talk about “lengthening” muscles a la Tracey Anderson, this lie addresses that BS. 
  5. You Can Change the Shape of Your Muscle.  Similar to point number 4.
  6. Women Shouldn’t work their leg and butt muscles, otherwise they’ll get too big.  I’m going to reference you again to the video above of Karli…sumo deadlifts work your hamstrings and your butt…are her legs big?
  7. Women should stick to machines and stay away from free weights.  Everyone should use free weights and stay away from (most) machines. 
  8. If you build muscle, it will just push the fat out more and make you look bulky. 
    Sorry, that’s not muscle pushing out the fat…

    Sorry, but those bulges aren’t due to rip roarin’ muscles hiding underneath them… 

This is just a flavor of Krista’s article…take the time to read it, you might learn a thing or two.

About Lisa Van Dore

I have lived in Sherborn, Dover and most recently North Walpole, for a total of 15 years (and counting). Having recently been through the process of selling a home and buying (and renovating) a new one, I understand the conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety inherent in the process, whether you are a seller or buyer, whether this is your first home purchase or your tenth. I have a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Indiana University. My early career found me working as a CPA, and later as the controller of Crate & Barrel. More recently I spent seven years running my own personal training business. I understand the hard work and dedication necessary to build a business and a reputation...most of my personal training clients came to me by referral and my first client was still with me when I decided to leave personal training. This speaks to the level of effort I put forth for my clients, week after week. On a more personal note, I raced triathlon for seven years and more recently completed my first half marathon. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, Maine, hiking and, in the fall, following college teams are the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!).
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2 Responses to Sex, Lies and Videotape

  1. Maura Bennett says:

    Another great article Lisa! As a spin instructor I have seen many participants “dial back” their workout because they think their heart rate is too high. It is hard to try to dispell this myth. I recently heard of a person who was spinning with no tension because she was told it would make her legs big. I am glad you are setting the record straight for anyone that will listen!

    • Maura, I love hearing your comments from the trenches. It is SO hard to make people understand that you don’t have to work long, but you do need to work hard. And I think we still have a long way to go to dispel the myth that women will get “big” from exercising.

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