Three Common Myths Surrounding Strength Training

outdoor strength training tire pull with coach

Myth 1:  If I lift heavy weights I’ll get bulky.

Fact:  Throw this one away without a second thought. Lifting weights doesn’t mean your muscles will get bigger. When designing any weight training program, the sets and repetitions have to be individualized to the person and their goals. Training for body building competitions is far different than training for weight-loss. What you eat dictates muscle growth—it always has and always will. If you consume more energy than your body needs, you’ll get bulky no matter what type of strength training routine you follow.

On the flip side, if you lift heavy weights and eat a diet of quality foods, your muscles will get stronger and denser, not bigger. You’ll change your body composition and burn fat even when the workouts are over. A study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, with one important distinction: the lifters lost fat, while the cardio people lost muscle and fat. At the end of the day, the ultimate key to strength training is consistency, variety, and performing the exercises with perfect technique.

Myth 2:  I’m not right for strength training. I’ll get too sore and probably get injured.

Fact: Don’t get bogged down by what type of strength training you choose. Whether it’s yoga, lifting weights, or functional body weight exercises, what’s important is that you start slow and give your body time to adapt. And you don’t have to be sore to reap the benefits of strength training. If your goal is weight-loss, you don’t have to work to the point of getting sore. Don’t judge how good your trainer is based on how much pain they cause. If your strength program is well designed, you’ll be able to walk pain-free the next day you won’t get injured. I should also point out that leg strength is a key predictor of longevity. You are right for strength training, no matter who you are. Your health depends on it.

Myth 3: If I want to tone my triceps and my abs, I have to target those areas.

Fact: Your body will lose where your body loses. Different people store fat in different places. As you lose weight, your body will lose fat in the areas that it tends to store the most fat. A well-balanced strength training program targets prime movers and focuses on functional lifts or specific corrective exercises. Big compound movements that recruit lots of muscle will force your body to rebuild lots of muscle, which requires your body to burn more calories. Make sense? Focus on the quality of every movement and don’t leave anything out. When you change your body composition, your triceps and abs will start showing.