7 Common Strength Training Myths, Debunked

Strength training can be an elusive concept. Whether you’re already incorporating weight training into your current exercise regimen, have been told you should and don’t know where to start, or don’t want to out of fear it will bulk you up, there’s a lot of misinformation about what strength training does for your body and how you should go about doing it. Will it make you bulk up? Will it do anything for your body at all? Can it do harm? We decided to put to bed some common strength training myths so you can get back to building muscle and feeling fit.

You'll Bulk Up

Think lifting weights will bulk you up? Think again.

This is the number one myth we hear about strength training, especially from women: "I can't lift weights, I'll bulk up!" The truth is, it’s not as easy for women to build muscle as men because they possess less testosterone; so unless you’re consuming a much larger quantity of calories, you’re not going to achieve bodybuilder status from lifting weights—just a nice, toned physique and a faster metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. So building muscle actually has less to do with bulking up and more about becoming stronger and burning more fat.

Free Weights Don't Work as Well as Machines

One of the common misconceptions about strength training is that there's one "best" way to do it, and many people think that "best" way is with weight machines. The truth is that while weight machines require your body to move in a single plane of motion, using dumbbells can actually utilize more muscles at a time by having your body go through a greater range of motion. Similarly, bodyweight exercises like push-ups, can be just as effective as lifting weights or using weight machines. 

You'll Injure Yourself

Don't let this common strength training myth keep you from lifting weights. If done properly and with the right equipment, weight training should not cause injury. In fact, consistent weight training can actually help protect your joints by strengthening the muscles and ligaments that surround them. Studies have even suggested that weight lifting can help prevent athletic or sports-related injuries. So double check your form and then get to it!

Weight Training Can Cause High Blood pressure

While your blood pressure may temporarily increase while you lift weights (as it will with most exercise) studies show that it returns to normal after you're done. And over time, people who consistently lift weights typically have lower blood pressure than those who don’t, given that it increases your cardiovascular fitness and is good for your heart.

Cardio Burns More Fat Than Weight Training

Cardio doesn't necessarily burn more calories than strength training.

Perhaps one of the biggest myths about strength training is that it doesn't burn as much fat as cardio; thus, many people tell themselves that strictly sticking to cardio is acceptable. The truth is, the more muscle you have on you, the more calories you burn at rest, and workouts that incorporate both strength training and light cardio, like HIIT workouts, burn fat faster and rev your metabolism. If you're looking to burn fat faster, you absolutely need to incorporate strength training into your workout routine.

You Should Only Focus on One Muscle Group Per Day

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to stick to one muscle group for each workout: it’s whatever will help you weight train most consistently. When you choose circuit-style workouts or HIIT training that combines strength moves with plyometric work, you work multiple muscle groups at a time while burning fat. As long as you’re giving your muscles a day to recover if they’re sore the next day, you can work as many muscle groups as you like in your workout.

You Have to Belong to a Gym to Strength Train

Think you have to belong to a gym or own a bunch of fancy equipment to strength train? Think again. You don't need to belong to a gym, spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, or even have a dedicated room in your house to strength train. If you’re new to weight training, all you need to get started are a few pairs of dumbbells (one lighter weight and one heavier set) and a mat.

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