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Fitness Rant | Sits-Ups and Cardio

I decided to start what  I call Fitness Rant. And no, I’m not ranting angrily or loudly, but just taking opportunity to blog and reeducate people about exercise science. I get questions that are associated with fitness myth(s) too often, thus I decided I’ll rant about it.

I started going to the gym for the past 2 months. I have a trainer and my trainer told me to do chest press, leg press, bicep curls etc etc (she demonstrated a few other exercises that she did not know what were they called) . But when I told my friend about my exercises that I am doing, my friend laughed at me and said If I want to lose fat, I should be doing Sit-Ups and Cardio, that would be enough. Is my trainer doing the right thing?

My answer: 
What your trainer is asking you to do is good. Chest Press and Leg Press, these are compound movements working on your major muscle group, and is very important to be done if you are looking into losing fat. When you lift weights, microscopic tear takes place in our muscle fibers. And our body response to the microscopic tear is by building more muscles, which depends on calories (food you eat) to be built and maintained. When you grow muscles, you will lose fat, provided you eat the right food that helps in building muscle and losing fat.

The person who says that it would be enough for you to be doing sit-ups and cardio certainly do not have any exercise science knowledge at all. Cardio is good, but too much of cardio alone will effect your body’s ability to lose body fat due to the body’s adaptation. While Sit-up has it’s own fitness myth related to what we call spot reduction. Spot reduction is a believe that if we want to lose fat of a particular area in the body, all we need is to work on that area. Sit-up for instance, should be done if you want to lose stomach fat. This is totally untrue. Fat lost takes place only when there is calorie deficit, that means there must be more calorie expenditure to calorie intake. If you want to lose fat, regardless of which area, it has to happen as a whole, rather than just a particular area.

Besides, if sit-ups are enough to lose fat, why are there still so many fat people around despite doing an accumulated thousands of sit-ups?

My recommendations:
Do compound resistance exercises, combined interval cardio such as HIIT or Tabata. According to studies, long-steady cardio such as running on the treadmill for 1 hour straight is said to be less effective compared to interval cardio.