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Four Bad Fitness Tips
Faulty fitness advice you can ignore.

Four Bad Fitness Tips
How hot should it be when you exercise?

When you're ready to get in shape, you'll hear from lots of people who want to give advice. Friends, family and co-workers will share things they've heard, things they've read or things they believe have worked for them. It's wonderful that people want to help, but it's important to separate good information from the bad.

You're going to hear lots of crazy suggestions. Things that people say or do that are wrong, ineffective or dangerous. To help you eliminate some of the bad ideas, I'm going to tell you about the four worst fitness tips people regularly share.

MYTH: Workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

You've probably heard it burns more fat, right? Wrong. When researchers compared people who exercised on an empty stomach to those who ate a small meal first, there were no differences in what either of them used for energy. But one group did have better long term weight loss and muscle building results.

The people who ate breakfast first were the fittest. Here's why. Eating breakfast gives you energy. You need energy to get through a workout. Eating a small breakfast, 30 minutes to an hour and a half before exercise gives you the energy to push harder and get through a more intense workout. For best results, don't workout on an empty stomach.

MYTH: Hours of cardio a week is the only way to burn fat.

Traditional steady-state cardio was good when we didn't know any better. But now we know that short, intense bursts of cardio can be more effective at burning fat and building muscle. It's called interval training. You can get a much better workout finished in about half the time it takes for an old-fashioned cardio session.

Weight training burns fat too. Every time you exercise and start to sweat, you're using calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when your exercise is finished. Building muscle from lifting weights is a great way to tighten a sagging body and get rid of extra pounds. Quit wasting time doing cardio the time-consuming and old-fashioned way.

MYTH: Exercise in the heat is the best way to burn calories.

The ideal temperature range for cardio and weight training is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot workouts make people more lethargic and sleepy. Increase the temperature just a few degrees to 80 and the effectiveness of a workout can decrease by as much as 50 percent. The heat saps your strength and serious medical problems can result. Much of the weight loss you experience is sweat, which goes right back on the minute you take a drink.

Hot workouts can be appropriate, but they're limited to specific situations. If you plan on running a marathon in Death Valley, you should be training in temperatures that more closely match what you'll experience during the race. The same is true if you're entering a cold-weather competition. Otherwise, skip hot workouts for ones that'll get better results.

MYTH: Anyone who wants long, lean muscles should skip weights and concentrate on ballet, Pilates or yoga.

Once you're an adult, the length of your muscles is set. No amount of hot yoga or Pilates classes are going to change that. What you can get from those programs is a greater range of motion and improvements to your posture, which will make it appear like you've got longer and leaner muscles.

Those programs also don't excuse you from lifting weights. You'll still need to include resistance programs in your exercise mix to make sure you're building muscle and keeping your metabolism strong. For women, don't worry about weight training building bulky muscles. Unless you're carrying it to the extreme by also taking male hormones, you won't develop male characteristics.

When people insist on sharing these common myths, don't waste your time correcting them. Nod your head and thank them for caring enough to share. Then do things the right way.

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