Myths of Weight Training

Do you avoid resistance exercise?  Are you afraid of getting big bulky muscles?  Do you think you’re too old to strength train?

There are many misconception about lifting weights.  Don’t let these misunderstandings keep you from the weight room.  We know the importance of strength training, now let’s take a look at seven common myths that people may have regarding lifting weights.

After I stop weight training, the muscle turns to fatThis is impossible!  Fat and muscle are two separate tissues and cannot turn into the other.  What happens is when you begin training, you gain muscle and lose fat.  Then if you stop weight training for a period of time, muscle mass decreases and fat stores increase due to lower activity.  One way to alleviate this problem is to make a lifestyle commitment  to strength training and vary your exercise program.

Free weights are always better than machinesBoth free weights and machines give you an effective resistance workout.  One difference is that with free weights you have no restraints so you need more control, but with machines you use a controlled movement.  Using free weights calls for more balance and stability.  An advantage of machine training is that you can isolate specific muscles.  For example, it’s hard to isolate your hamstrings, quadriceps or hip abductors with free weights.  And with machines, you may decrease risk of injury due to shielded weights or other safety features.  However, free weights are less expensive and take up limited space at home.  Both of these methods are great for increasing strength.  It’s more a matter of personal preference and your goals.

Women will build bulky musclesWomen have less muscle tissue and lower levels of testosterone compared to men.  There is only a very small percentage of women who have the ability to really bulk-up.  Women shouldn’t be afraid of getting huge muscles by regularly lifting weights.  We can improve strength and tone, which is what we typically want.  It’s actually rare for women to naturally build up unusually large muscles.

Fat deposits can be targeted through spot reductionTo spot reduce means that you can target a certain spot by exercising a specific muscle to lose fat in that area. An example would be to do lots of sit-ups to reduce your belly fat.  We can spot train muscles but not spot reduce fat. The muscles we train will get stronger, but doesn’t reduce the fat stored there.  Reducing fat isn’t due to a particular exercise.  Training programs will help with fat loss over the whole body.  Apparently, we lose fat from areas in the reverse order that we gained the fat.  Also, our bodies lose fat in certain areas due to “overall genetic factors”.

Individuals should use light weights and high reps to improve muscle tone and heavy weights and low reps to increase muscle mass:  Several studies have indicated “similar improvements in muscular endurance, strength, and size from high-rep and low-rep training”.  Based on this research, as long as the exercise fatigues the muscle in less than 90 seconds, light weights and high reps or heavy weights and low reps causes comparable responses in muscles.  It is important to use enough weight to exhaust the muscle.

At some point, people get too old to lift weights:  One of the greatest things about resistance exercise is that it works equally well for all ages of people!  Older muscles are very receptive to progressive weight training.  According to one study, there were nursing home residents who were 90 yrs old that added 4 pounds of muscle in just 14 weeks of basic strength training.

Children are too young to lift weights:  Some think that preadolescents will damage their bones by lifting weights.  Numerous studies have indicated that through properly designed programs, children can increase their strength and physical ability.  Actually, strength training is the best way for kids to build bone density.  In a study of sports-related injuries, resistance training had a better safety record than other sport activities.

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I hope these common myths are put to rest and you can be better informed about lifting weights.  Following a properly designed program, strength training will enhance your overall quality of life!

 



6 Responses to Myths of Weight Training

  1. Debbie says:

    It’s pretty amazing that these myths are still around. We as trainers have been trying to tell people for years! Great post!

    I work in country clubs so most of my clients are older than 60, most in their 70s and 80s! My oldest ever client stayed training until he was 101! He started in his 90s!

    • Cyndi says:

      That’s so neat you work with older clients. It’s encouraging to know that people are still training in their 90’s! Have a great weekend!!

  2. Great myth busters! I love my strength training workouts and find I get so much from them that I could never get from cardio alone

  3. This is a great post; and I’ve heard all those myths over the many years I’ve been in the business. Strength training is so important to my overall health as I’m rapidly approaching 60!