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Flabby Facts - Destroying the Myths #1

The pursuit of physical perfection (or simply good health) is fraught with half-truths, myths, and urban legends. We asked personal trainers from around the country to weigh in on some of the biggest fitness myths out there. Find out which fitness fads and myths to ignore, and which beneficial workout habits you should be focusing on instead.

MYTH: WEIGHT WORKOUTS MAKE YOU BULKY

Lifting weights, even heavy ones, won't turn anyone into the Incredible Hulk. Celebrity fitness trainer Tadeo, who has trained Kerry Washington and Jesse Metcalfe, says bulking up would take monumental effort. "To gain that much mass naturally, you would you need to lift extremely heavy weights, combined with an excessive increase in calories," Tadeo says. "Lifting weights will actually have you looking more fit and compact than working out without weights."

MYTH: MUSCLE WILL TURN TO FAT IF YOU DON'T USE IT

We've all heard that not exercising results in muscle turning to fat. There's no truth to this idea, says Robert S. Herbst, a personal trainer and 19-time world champion powerlifter. "Muscle can't turn to fat," Herbst says. "Muscle is made of protein. And fat is made of lipids. Chemically, one can't turn into the other." The reality is that if one doesn't use muscle, it simply atrophies, in other words, decreases.

MYTH: ONLY WORK OUT IN THE MORNING

There is no right or wrong time of day to exercise, physical therapist Karena Wu says. "Working out, period, is the best. It does not matter at what time you get your workout in — it just matters that you get it in," Wu says.

MYTH: WORK OUT 60 MINUTES OR IT DOESN'T COUNT

When it comes to workouts, efficiency trumps the length of the workout, says NASM-certified personal trainer and health coach Robyn Lanci. "You can get a great workout in less than an hour," she says. "The best, most efficient workouts work multiple muscle groups at once. Those are called compound movements. Some examples of compound movements are squats, lunges, rowing exercises, and pushing exercises."

MYTH: WORK ABS FOR A SCULPTED STOMACH

Doing endless abs work in pursuit of a six-pack will not lead to success. "Unfortunately, the abs class at the gym is not the secret to a great summer six-pack," Tadeo says. "In reality, that time would be better spent on some resistance training or cardio. Add some quality weightlifting and running, and you will get your desired results."

MYTH: WORK OUT LONGER TO GET FITTER

A longer workout doesn't necessarily benefit you, Wu says. "You can work out for a longer period of time, but not end up accomplishing as much as you would have during a shorter period," she says. "Why? Because you might be resting too long in between sets or not increasing your intensity as much." The bottom line — short workouts are often more effective if you ramp up the intensity and push your system.

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