Fitness experts separate folklore from fact

Mon Mar 4, 2013 5:29am EST
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Can crunches create six-pack abdominal muscles? Do weight-lifting women risk bulging biceps? Is stretching always a good idea?

Experts say disentangling folklore from fact is not easy in fitness, where misconceptions are as pervasive as push-ups and as stubborn as love handles.

Jennifer Burke, a fitness manager at a Crunch gym in West Hollywood, California, said many women still worry that weight training will create big and bulky muscles.

"Women say ‘I don't want to get bulky,' but unless you take in extra calories or testosterone supplements, that's just not going to happen," said Burke, who eases reluctant clients into resistance training gently, with body-weight exercises.

"When they see their bodies getting long lean muscles, getting toned, they trust you a little more and you can start adding in dumbbells and machines," Burke said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups - legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms - two or more days a week.

"A lot of people think if they want to lose a lot of weight they should do cardio, but the best thing is to add in resistance training as well," Burke said. "You'll get bigger, faster results because you're working on lean muscle tissue which burns more calories in the long run."

While it's true that muscle weighs more than fat, it's also more compact.   Continued...

 
Giang Hoang, 38, of Los Angeles exercises on the beach in Santa Monica, California May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson