BUSTED: 4 Common Weight Training Myths
If you were aware of a training method that could help you lose weight, prevent or control chronic health conditions, increase your self-esteem, improve your balance and reduce your risk of injury all while making you look and feel better, wouldn't you want to get started immediately?
Well, research has shown that weight training can provide all those benefits and more.
Weight training (also known as strength or resistance training) is physical activity performed with the objective of improving muscular fitness by exercising a muscle group or a specific muscle against an external resistance (weight or force), including resistance bands, your own body weight, free weights and weight machines.
When it comes to weight training, there are often several common misconceptions/myths that circulate around the fitness industry, which leaves novice participants confused and reluctant to get started with training. Our aim is to ‘debunk’ and breakdown 4 common weight training myths;
Myth #1: “Weight Training is for building muscle, and cardio is for fat loss”
Whilst a cardio workout is often perceived to burn more calories than a weight training session; your metabolism increases and may stay elevated for longer after a weight training session. Thus, increasing your ability to burn more calories outside the gym and in the future. For example, if you were to measure the calories burned during a 30-minute run and compare them to the number burned during a 30-minute weight training session, the run would probably come out on top on face value. But this only tells a small percentage of the story.
To explain this in greater detail, you benefit from something called ‘excess post-exercise oxygen consumption’ (EPOC). EPOC is a process that involves an increased rate of oxygen consumption during the recovery period. Weight training creates an EPOC rate far greater than that created by a cardio workout.
In context, this matters because consuming and processing additional amounts of oxygen requires energy, in the form of calories. A 30-minute run might lead to an increased EPOC rate for a few hours afterwards. But a weight session that goes for 30 minutes, the EPOC rate remains elevated for up to 48 hours. Thus, the weight training session facilitates greater consuming and processing of additional amounts of oxygen, by burning calories to do so.
Overall, the ideal exercise program for improving body composition and health, incorporates both cardio and weight training along with a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Myth #2: “Weight training is going to make me bulky”
With correct programming and nutrition, weight training will create a leaner physique - not a bulkier one. Lifting weights can increase your lean body mass, which increases the number of overall calories you burn during the day. By adding more lean muscle mass, you'll be burning more calories outside the gym as well.
Yes, weight training can enlarge your muscles (known as hypertrophy) but that is not a guaranteed outcome. Think of weight training as a tool, it will get you the results you desire - the key is how you choose to train with the weights. Whether your goal is to build muscle mass, build lean muscle without adding mass or simply feel more confident and stronger, it all comes down to programming.
In general, if you work against moderate resistance for higher repetitions of an exercise, you will encourage strength and muscle endurance without experiencing a significant increase in muscle size hypertrophy. Whereas, if you keep resistance high and perform a lower number of repetitions of each exercise, you will encourage hypertrophy. The choice is yours.
Whilst achieving results is not always this simple. We need to understand that you may be naturally limited by your body type and genetics. For example, if a lean runner who has always had difficulty gaining weight, might not be able to put on much muscle mass even if they wanted to. The odds of getting ‘bulky’ accidentally, while following a runner’s weight training program are very low.
The idea of getting ‘bulky’ is sometimes interpreted by women who haven’t performed weight training in the past. Women tend to avoid weight training, either because they like cardio better, think cardio burns more fat or they'll gain weight. But typically, women don't have the number of hormones (mainly, testosterone) necessary to build huge muscles. In fact, men struggle to gain muscle mass rapidly as well.
Overall, lifting weights -yes, even heavy weights- can benefit both women and men. In fact, challenging yourself to lift heavier weights is the best way to fast track your results and become more confident and stronger. Always remember, muscle takes up less space than fat in the body. When you do add some muscle, this only helps you lose fat (along with cardio and healthy diet), which means you'll be leaner and more defined.
Myth #3: “I’m too old to lift weights”
Whilst medical issues/conditions play a factor when assessing weight lifting capabilities with age, medical clearance from a professional is always required. Beyond that, there is no age limit on beginning a weight training program and, more importantly, the benefits you see below will improve your life;
- Improved balance and coordination
- Greater strength and flexibility
- Weight management
- Reduced risk of falling and injury
- Improved Self-Esteem
- Building strong, lean muscle
The risks associated with not exercising at all and not performing weight training are much greater than a safe, effective weight training program. Experts suggest that without exercise, we can lose 3% to 5% of our muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. This is called Sarcopenia. This loss of muscle mass doesn't just cause weight gain, but it also contributes to reduced functionality, flexibility, balance, mobility and strength.
Myth #4: “It's intimidating to learn how to lift weight”
With the guidance of a coach who provides exercise demonstrations and a structured training program, the fear of judgment when walking into a gym can be alleviated. Learning how to physically lift weights is also a gradual process, as progression occurs over time. Whether that be from starting with bodyweight exercises, lighter weight exercises and finally building up to heavier weight exercises. Everyone has to start somewhere and by asking for assistance from a trained professional, you’re already a step closer to achieving your fitness goals.
It is never too late to start weight training and reap all the benefits of a strong and healthy body and mind!
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