Let’s debunk the 5 biggest strength training myths. Strength Training – also known as Resistance Training, and as good old-fashioned “Lifting Weights” – is one of the best things you can do for your physical appearance, general health, and a longer life. Don’t let anyone tell you different…
In looking around the Internet a bit, however, be prepared:
It certainly appears many will attempt to do just that.
Ever since Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth Cooper became a bestseller in 1968, most of the western world has shown a strong bias towards this style of exercise. Aerobics is now more commonly referred to as “Cardio”, whether the goal is weight loss or basic health and fitness.
Punch the gym clock for 30-60 minutes of sweating on the treadmill, bike or elliptical, for a clear conscience. Pretty simple, and for many an opportunity to enjoy a good book or podcast…
Meanwhile, the poor, lonely Weight Room has been tacitly assigned as the sole province of Football Players, Pro Wrestlers and Meatheads-at-Large. It’s most often seen as a place where you get bulky, get injured, or both.
Does that opinion sound like your opinion?
If so, sorry to say: you’ve fallen for one of the more common myths associated with Strength Training. On the plus side, you certainly aren’t alone, and there are plenty more myths where that came from…
In fact, let’s examine these 5 common myths about Strength Training, do a little debunking, and (hopefully) open the door for you to experience some potentially amazing results in your own health and fitness.
Myth #1: Strength Training Doesn't Help Burn Fat
On the contrary: not only is Strength Training massively beneficial for Fat Loss and body recomposition – it might just be your number one ally…
When you jump on the treadmill and burn 200 calories, that calorie-burning is over the moment you step off.
Let’s say you join a BootCamp Session and burn 200 calories, you can actually expect to burn some additional calories for up to 72 hours via the so-called “Afterburn Effect”.
If you train with weights, however, you receive both of the above benefits along with a very important third one: you have stimulated new muscle – and new muscle will continue to burn calories, on and on, 24/7…forever!
This is because muscle tissue is some of the most metabolically active tissue in the human body. A single pound of muscle burns 10-20 calories every day, all while you’re just living and breathing…
When it comes to finding ways to burn more calories, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Myth #2: Lifting Weights Makes Women "Bulk Up"
There’s no doubt you’ve heard this one before. Let’s first take a moment and acknowledge a thing or two (all the better to avoid an argument)…
Yes: Strength Training will increase the amount of muscle on your body.
Yes: this is true whether you are male or female.
Unfortunately, most women take this as a cue to avoid the Weight Room altogether, lest they accidentally grow 18-inch biceps overnight…
The truth of the matter is the women you see in bodybuilding magazines – from which this myth seems to have sprung – have been training as hard as they can for years on end to grow those muscles, with eating to match. Of course, many are also engaging in the active use of anabolic steroids to transcend even their genetic limits.
All this is far, far removed from the recreational exerciser, or even the fitness enthusiast. An average, drug-free female doing everything correctly in both the gym and their kitchen will still typically be able to add just a pound or so of muscle per month…
Please rest assured, ladies: Strength Training is great for you, and you absolutely, positively do not have to put on one more ounce of muscle than you want to! So, steer clear of these strength training myths.
Myth #3: Unused Muscle "Turns Into Fat"
Maybe most people mean this one as a metaphor, but it’s also been stated with plenty of apparent sincerity…
Just like the points above, however, it is categorically false.
From 5th grade Biology on up, it’s made clear: muscle and fat are very distinct (and dissimilar) types of tissue. Under no circumstances can one become the other…
Some strength training myths are mysterious in origin, but this one may come from misleading observations of retired athletes, fitness pros or celebrities who were (at some point) on a strict exercise regimen. In some cases – particularly with retired athletes, who are not always as disciplined as commonly believed – these individuals ceased their aggressive Workouts, but not their aggressive eating.
This sudden shift of balance in the caloric equation, when coupled with the fact it is ridiculously easy to accumulate body fat in the first place, means it’s just a matter of time before a Reverse Transformation occurs – away from the “After” photo and back towards the “Before” one!
Needless to say, this does not need to happen to you, or anyone else.
Fat gain is not a matter of biological alchemy; it’s just a few too many of the wrong meals!
Myth #4: Strength Training Is Just for Young People
The preceding myth is nothing more than a hare-brained curiosity.
This strength training myth, unfortunately, can be much more detrimental…
Due to this widespread misconception, a large percentage of the ever-growing senior population is steering clear of a form of exercise that can bring them some of the greatest benefits.
Improved balance and coordination, better mobility and flexibility, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis are just the beginning. Proper Strength Training works wonders in reducing and even eliminating both Sarcopenia (the wasting of muscle tissue over time) and Dynopenia (the gradual loss of the muscles ability to produce force).
Seniors, please hear and heed this: Exercise is the nearest thing to the Fountain of Youth. Please don’t turn it away…
With the proper approval of your physician, you’re never too old to lift weights – you’re only too old not to!
Myth #5: Heavy Weights to Build, Light Weights to Tone
This myth – popularized in the 60s and perhaps even before – has time and tradition on it’s side. A generation or two down the road, and it’s a safe bet we can find quite a few sets of vinyl-coated 3, 5 and 8lb dumbbells in many homes…
While you should never sacrifice form or safety by heaving bigger weights around, the fact of the matter is the stronger you are, the leaner and more toned you are able to become. This is included along with all the straightforward, functional benefits becoming strong can offer you (easier movement through the world-at-large, increased resistance to injury, etc.)
Begin conservatively, using weight you can confidently handle for 10 or so repetitions. Over time, increase the weights you’re using for those 10-rep sets, but also dip into greater intensity and effort on occasion, eventually incorporating weights heavy enough to allow for an honest set of just 5 or 6 repetitions.
When properly prepared, you won’t do yourself any harm.
In fact, you may just develop a taste for it…
Hopefully this has been an enjoyable read, and has made one thing clear:
Including Strength Training as a regular part of your fitness routine is essential for achieving a fit, toned, and healthy body.
See you in the Weight Room!