When it comes to losing weight, most people understand they need to clean up their diet and focus on exercising more. But over the years, many myths have developed on the methods for the “best” way to exercise and lose weight. We’ve picked 3 myths we hear the most to shed some light on the facts.

Myth #1: I only need to do cardio to lose weight

Ever since the days of jazzercise and Richard Simmons, the fitness industry has been fighting this myth. “Cardio” or cardiovascular exercise refers to the human body’s ability to pump blood from the heart throughout the body. It is a key component to overall health and simply walking every day has been proven to have numerous benefits to things like blood pressure and cholesterol. It also comes in a variety of forms like using the elliptical, riding a bike, running, dancing, or playing most sports.

Cardio alone may help you drop weight initially, but it will not change your overall body composition. This process begins with a calorie deficit and nutrient dense diet, does include cardio, but is largely the result of progressive strength training. You need all 3 and traditional cardio will plateau at a certain point. This is where the advent of the High Intensity Interval Training workouts comes in to play. You can spike your heart rate to reap those health benefits in combination with strength training to make the most of our busy schedules we call life.

Myth #2: I can lose fat from specific areas with specific exercises.

The fitness industry calls this “spot reduction,” and in short - it doesn’t exist. This would be like using a toothbrush to clean the kitchen floor when you own a mop. Most of these “targeted” exercises involve small muscle groups like the triceps or obliques. In truth, it’s more efficient to do compound movements like squats for example, that recruit more muscle fibers, require more coordination, and require more energy to both execute the exercise and repair the muscle afterward. When your body needs more energy, it uses fat. Where it pulls that energy from, however, is not up to you or anything you do to influence it. Period.

Myth #3: High Reps will help me tone.

To start, “toning” is a marketing buzzword used to convince you to buy this product or try this fitness facility. What you really mean is build muscle and look like Chris Hemsworth or Lindsey Vonn. As we mentioned, a combination of diet and exercise will help you lose the fat but to build muscle you need to lift and you need to lift heavy. The ideal rep range for hypertrophy (an increase in muscle size) is roughly 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps at a challenging weight. That’s not to say your 1 rep maxes and high rep ranges don’t have their time and place. We use heavy lifts to build strength and often use lower weight/high reps for rehab and/or muscle endurance. It all depends on your body, your goals, and how your body responds to training.

If you want to be healthy, be strong, and lose weight in the process - eat well, put in the work, and be consistent. That’s the secret.

-Kirstin Henry, Louisville