A lot of people avoid strength training because they have heard so many myths and misconceptions that they are afraid to try it. They think strength training is just for body builders. Strength training has significant health benefits for everybody, however, and all that misinformation only serves to keep people from experiencing those benefits. Let’s debunk a few of those strength training myths.
Myth #1: Strength training bulks you up, and women lose their feminine appearance if they do it. This is probably the most frequently heard myth about strength training. Fact: Strength training makes you stronger. It doesn’t give you bulky, masculine-looking muscles unless you have a lot of testosterone circulating in your blood. Unless a woman is using anabolic steroids, she will not develop bulky muscles; she will develop strong muscles.
Myth #2: No pain, no gain. Strength training hurts. Fact: If you experience more than mild soreness after strength training, you are either training incorrectly or overtraining.
Myth #3: Strength training is for spot reduction—making your waist smaller or your stomach flatter or your thighs firmer. Fact: Strength training makes your muscles stronger. The only way to get a tiny waist, flat stomach or firm thighs is to get rid of the fat that is covering your muscles.
Myth #4: Strength training doesn’t help with weight loss. Fact: Although strength training doesn’t burn fat like aerobic exercise does, it does help with weight loss. As your muscles get stronger, your resting metabolic rate increases. Which means that you burn more fat, even when you’re not exercising.
Myth #5: Kids can’t do strength training because it will stunt their growth. Fact: Age-appropriate strength training exercises helps kids develop strong muscles and bones. It does not stunt their growth.
Myth #6: Old people can’t do strength training. Fact: Strength training helps older people maintain muscle strength and bone density. It also helps them maintain balance, and prevents falls.
Myth #7: You have to be aerobically fit before you can start strength training. Fact: Both aerobic exercise and strength training—and flexibility training—are part of a complete fitness program. However, you can begin strength training even if you are not participating in some kind of aerobic exercise.
Myth #8: You can’t do strength training without special equipment. Fact: Strength training involves resistance, and there are many ways to provide resistance. You can use your own body—think push-ups and crunches. You can use free weights, barbells, dumbbells, and other types of equipment—some of which is expensive and some of which is very affordable. Or you can use homemade resistance bands or weights (a pound of margarine weights the same as a one-pound weight).
Anyone, of any age can do strength training, and you don’t need a lot of special equipment. Some of the benefits of weight training are:
• Stronger muscles
• Better balance, which makes you more graceful and less klutzy
• Increased resting metabolic rate, which helps you burn more fat and lose weight more easily
• Increased bone density, which prevents osteoporosis
Don’t let myths and misconceptions cheat you of these health benefits.