Last Updated on August 22, 2021 by Viky Unterberg
Now that I have explained to you why calorie deficit is the foundation to fat loss in this post, you are probably more confused thinking about all the other noises you have heard about fat loss and what supposedly works.
And that includes the many fad diets that proclaim that calories aren’t important to weight loss, but instead, rely on a variety of other things.
But my focus is strictly on the exercise aspect of fat burning myths.
- Higher repetition/lighter weight = weight loss
- Toning is real
- You Can Spot Reduce
- Metabolic And Cardio Workout Burns Fat
- Building Muscle And Burning Fat Require Different Exercises
I will just clear up these for you.
1. Higher Reps/Lighter Weight = Weight Loss
The idea behind this claims that weight training exercises completed at higher reps (usually 12 + repetition per set) using lighter weights will burn fat, on the other hand exercises done with heavier weight with lower repetitions (typically 1-8 reps per set) build muscles.
This is a myth for two reasons:
- While different rep ranges are beneficial for certain weight goals, you can build muscle in every repetition range, despite how high it is.
- Next, there is nothing special that ever happens when you use more or less repetitions that makes the exercise suddenly burn fat on the body part you are exercising.
In fact, switching from heavier to lighter weights for the purpose of muscle gain will only result in a decrease in the stimulus that gives the body a reason to keep what muscle it already has.
Which can eventually lead to muscle loss. And this is the opposite of what you wish to accomplish when you want to lose weight while keeping your muscle.
2. “Toning” Is Real
This is the idea that there are specific workout routines and exercises that are specifically for “toning.”
Like, if your goal is to build big bulky muscles then you do these exercises and if you want to get defined, lean and toned muscles then instead do these exercises, which are specific for your body type.
Let’s get something clear, you can’t tone or define a specific body part. The most you can do is gain or lose fat/muscle on that body part. That is all.
The only shortcut to achieving this goal is to do liposuction (which is ill-advised) on specific areas on your body.
Toning workouts are a training myth that is used as a marketing concept for women, but then, it tends to work because we fall for it every time.
3. You Can Spot Reduce
Spot reduction is based on the idea that you can do specific exercises to target fat on specific areas on your body.
That is, back exercises for burning back fat, abs workouts burn belly fat, leg exercises burn leg fat, face exercises target face fat etc…
That is actually not quite accurate.
Why, you may ask? Well because all those exercises do not target fat, they target the muscles. This myth has been debunked many times over by a variety of studies, two of which you can check out here and here.
4. Metabolic And Cardio Workouts Burn Fat
These two are the most common forms of fat burning exercises: metabolic and cardio training.
These categories of exercises cover all workouts from the traditional moderate to low intensity steady state cardio such as elliptical, bike, treadmill etc…, to High Intensity Interval Training HIIT such as kettlebell, sledgehammer and battle rope work etc…, as well as other exercises that combines weight training with cardio like Crossfit, circuits etc…
Most times when people decide to workout for the sake of losing weight, they tend to gravitate to these types of workouts.
Why? Because they believe that by just doing these forms of training they will burn the fat they wish to lose.
And…that’s not the truth behind these workouts. These trainings – on its own- don’t cause fat loss in the body.
They burn calories.
And if the body is in a consistent calorie deficit as a result of your diet, then a significant amount of body fat will be lost.
This simply means that even if you do HIIT 3 times per week, fasted steady state cardio 5 days per week, traditional weight training 4 days per week, Crossfit 4 days per week along with any metabolic finishers to wrap up each day’s workout, play sport or even walk to work dailY.
But you consistently eat in a caloric surplus, then you will not lose an ounce of fat as your diet will be canceling out your exercise efforts. The body needs to be in a consistent state of calorie deficit to lose fat.
5. Building Muscle And Burning Fat Require Different Exercises
Finally, we have the belief that particular exercises such as isolation and specific body weight/ machine exercises, are designed specifically for fat burning, while other compound exercises done with free weights are specifically for muscle building only.
Yeah, that’s just another myth.
Fun fact, your body does not care or even know what exercises it is doing or what type of equipment it is performing the exercise with.
It cannot differentiate if a barbell is being used so it can decide to lose weight or if it’s a machine then it need to do an isolation and spot reduce.
Your body only concerns itself with the amount of fatigue, tension and damage each exercise creates and how far it can be pushed despite the equipment or exercise is being used to get it there.
And not a single one of that is directly capable of targeting body fat.
It’s All About Calorie Deficit, Not The Exercises
So many people fail to lose weight because of these common myths even though they may be working out all the time.
Their main focus tend to be on the workout or exercises, assuming that they are doing all the fat burning and so they ignore their diet or they think that they can eat bad because they are exercising so that makes up for it.
Most of these are ineffective and are not gonna cut it for weight loss if you continue to consume more calories than you burn, therefore, preventing the body from being in a deficit.
And so it all boils down to this, all exercise that burns a significant amount of calories have the potential to result in fat loss, however, that will only happen if it is in conjunction with a consistent caloric deficit in your diet.
If you do this, then you will experience fat loss but if not, no matter what exercises you do, you will never lose the fat.