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Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak Breaks Down Exercise Myths

February 27, 2017

By Cindy Augustine

Despite the glut of information thrown at us every day, plenty of myths and misconceptions abound around exercise, according to celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. The nutritionist, workout guru and New York Times-bestselling author of such titles as The Body Reset Diet has gotten A-listers like Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian into tiptop shape. Pasternak talked with Clean Plates to dispel some major wellness myths:

Clean Plates: Is there a certain time of day that’s better for working out?

Harley Pasternak: Scientifically, there’s no certain time of day that’s more beneficial for working out. Do it when you can commit to doing it.

C.P.: Are longer workouts more effective than shorter sessions?

H.P.: Brief, more intense and focused workouts can be as effective as longer, less intense workouts.

C.P.: Is doing the same exercise every day (spinning for example) bad for the body?

H.P.: Doing the same intense cardio every day (other than walking) can give you repetitive stress syndrome. Moreover, doing the same strength exercises every day can cause injury.

C.P.: Are there any specific moves you swear by?

H.P.: I really focus on the posterior chain with my clients. A sample workout would be dumbbell rows with dumbbell stiff-leg dead lifts, and a lying dumbbell tricep extension. I would probably do 20 repetitions of each of these moves as a nonstop circuit, and repeat the circuit approximately six times.

C.P.: Will using weights make women more muscular?

H.P.: Not at all — that’s a big misconception. To make bigger muscles you first need testosterone, which is why men get bigger muscles than women. Then, you need to eat extra food. Think in terms of building a house: In order to build a bigger house, you need extra wood, bricks, etc.

And third, you need to train at high volume. This means adopting a body-building style, with lots of exercises for one body part with lots of sets and reps.

C.P.: How much does sweating matter? If we’re not sweating a lot, will we see fewer results?

H.P.: Sweating is the body’s effort to cool itself down. If you are sweating, you are hot. Scientifically speaking, we actually burn marginally more fat and calories in a cold environment where we may not actually sweat at all.

C.P.: Will we see more results from exercising and eating a high-protein diet vs. low or normal protein amounts?

H.P.: Part of that is true — protein aids in generating results from exercise, but you also need to balance this by consuming ample fiber and healthy fats. I call this the “holy trinity of healthy eating.” I’m a big believer in getting these essential nutrients from blending, which is the foundation for my Body Reset Diet.

Using smoothies as a meal replacement helps to power your metabolism, blast fat and shed pounds all while staying satisfied. I recently worked with Jamba Juice to develop a line of Super Blends that provide optimal nutrition for anyone seeking a fast, fueling and filling smoothie. Try my Green Smoothie (recipe below) for a great fueling mini meal.

C.P.: What’s the holy trinity and how does it work exactly?

H.P.: Scientifically speaking, we understand that protein, fiber, and healthy fats each increase the thermic effect of food. Eating these foods causes a boost in our metabolism, and they also stabilize blood sugar levels and make us feel fuller faster and longer.

C.P.: If you eat a high protein snack before exercising, will you burn off those calories any faster?

H.P.: No, a high protein snack before a workout will not cause you to burn calories any faster.

C.P.: How important is food in terms of fueling for a workout?

H.P.: I don’t really think in those terms. I train people to strengthen, tone and tighten their bodies. I don’t train them for performance. If someone was doing a three-hour marathon run, or mountain climbing for a few hours, fuel is essential. If someone is doing 30 minutes of weight training or going for a long walk, staying hydrated is important, but not really a fuel issue.

Green Smoothie With Spinach and Avocado




05 min


00 min


2 cups spinach leaves, packed

1 ripe pear, unpeeled, cored and chopped

15 green or red grapes

3/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons chopped avocado

1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


In a blender or food processor, combine the spinach, pear, grapes, yogurt, avocado and lime juice. Blend until desired consistency.

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