Strength Training Myths Debunked: Separating Fact From Fiction In The Gym

Strength training has become more popular in the past couple of decades as many old myths about what it does to your body have been debunked thanks to an improved understanding of how the body operates.

This article will go over some of the myths surrounding strength training so you’re armed with all the information you need to decide if it’s right for you.


Debunking Seven Common Myths Surrounding Strength Training

Let’s jump into our list of common misconceptions about weightlifting and find out if they hold any weight:


1) Strength Training Isn’t For Older Adults

Strength training is often associated with younger adults, bodybuilders, and athletes, but getting up there in age doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. Strength training is beneficial to people of all ages, and it provides various benefits including:

  • Improves bone density which helps to combat the bone loss that takes place as you age.
  • Increases and helps to maintain muscle mass which seniors lose as they age.
  • Improves stability and balance, two things you lose with age.

The reality is older people have a lot to gain from adding a strength training program to their fitness routine since it helps to combat some of the changes aging causes in the body. Strength training allows older people to age more gracefully and allows them to stay active.


2) Strength Training Doesn’t Help To Lose Weight

Here’s another myth that has been around for quite some time, but it simply isn’t true. While cardiovascular exercise should be a major part of your fitness routine if you’re trying to lose weight or stay healthy, strength training is just as important.

Strength training helps to build lean muscle mass, which raises your metabolism and leads to more calorie burns. A weightlifting session also increases your calorie burn for a few hours afterward. Combine cardio training and strength training for the best results.

Lifting weights also helps to maintain your muscles when you’re dieting so your body prioritizes burning fat, not muscles.


3) Weightlifting Makes Women Look Like Men

This little myth has been around for quite some time, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The idea probably comes from people seeing female bodybuilders who are way more muscular than the average guy. What’s often left out of these conversations is that these women are typically on anabolic steroids and other testosterone-boosting supplements which is why they can achieve such an unnatural look.

Women naturally have lower levels of testosterone than men have which is why the latter tend to be more muscular.

What strength training does for women is allow them to develop strong and toned muscles. The average female mixed martial arts fighter or gymnast is an excellent example of what women who don’t take testosterone boosters look like when they strength train regularly.


4) You’re Not Working Hard Enough If You’re Not Sore Afterward

Here’s a myth that’s been around for over five decades. It comes from the old-school “no pain, no gain” mentality. Never judge the effectiveness of your workouts from how much delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) you experience since it’s not an effective signal.

Most people experience the most DOMS after performing new exercises, and it’s simply your body’s inflammatory response to the muscle tears that strength training causes. The more you perform any given exercise regularly, the less likely you are to experience significant DOMS. That doesn’t mean you aren’t getting the same benefits from them. The key to getting the most out of your strength training sessions is pushing yourself during each workout.


5) Performing High Reps Is The Best Way To Tone Your Muscles

“Toning” in the fitness space often refers to building muscles while losing fat. You can develop your muscles with any rep scheme as long as you push yourself to fatigue during each set. However, using lighter weights requires many more reps to reach fatigue compared to heavier weights.

High reps are often best suited for improving muscle endurance, while fewer reps with heavier reps lead to more muscle growth. There’s a sweet spot around 15 to 20 reps with moderate weights that can lead to an aerobic effect that helps to burn calories when done with short rest periods between sets. Bodybuilders often go for this rep range so they can simultaneously increase lean muscle mass while burning fat.


6) You Need A Gym To Strength Train

Having access to a gym is nice if you’re looking to build muscle mass and increase your functional strength, but it’s not a must. A lot of progress can be made by performing bodyweight exercises. Calisthenics can be an effective way to build muscle mass if you approach it the right way.

The biggest drawback of calisthenics is that progressively increasing the difficulty of your workouts can be challenging since you can’t just slap on a pair of plates. You can get around this by performing more challenging variations of the exercises you do.

For example, bodyweight squats might not be challenging enough for you after a few weeks of doing them, but pistol squats will give you a serious challenge. Many people struggle to get a single rep of this challenging variation of the squat. Keep this in mind when bodyweight exercises make up the bulk of your strength training. There’s always a more challenging variation of any exercise that you will struggle to get five reps of. You can also make your body weight exercises more difficult by buying training tools like weighted vests, dumbbells, and resistance bands.


7) Lifting Weights Stunts Your Growth

We’ve all heard this one before so let’s clear things up. Strength training will not make you short. Your height is the result of genetics, so strength training doesn’t really affect the outcome of your height.

Ironically, strength training has the opposite effect since it helps to improve your posture which makes you appear taller. Also, strengthening the muscles that help to support your spine can protect your spinal health as you age.


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