There are a lot of myths still going around about strength training especially when it comes to women.
The truth is that strength training is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health, wellness, and appearance.
Here are 5 common myths and the truth about why strength training is one of the best things you can do to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
It’s a Myth…that Muscle Turns Into Fat
Why would anyone want to build muscle if it could morph into fat after a span of disuse? Rest assured that this is a myth of the highest order.
Muscle tissue is muscle tissue. Fat tissue is fat tissue. One will never become the other. But your body will breakdown muscle if you are not using it regularly. Muscle is a very “expensive” tissue in your body. This means it takes more calories or energy to maintain it (read: the more muscle that you have the more you can eat without storing it as fat!). Our bodies are still wired like there is going to be a famine sometime in the near future, so it is always preparing for that. If you don’t push yourself and keep using the muscle that you have worked so hard to build, your body will break it down because there is no need to keep fueling that expensive tissue if you are not using it. The consequence of muscle being broken down is that your body needs fewer calories to maintain itself. If you don’t take that into account and eat less, then you will gain body fat. Our bodies are very good at storing body fat, so it may feel like the muscle is “turning into fat”, but really, if you are eating more calories than you need. It is the extra food that is turning into body fat.
It’s a Myth…that Strength Training Doesn’t Burn Fat
During a strength training workout you may burn fewer calories than a cardio workout, but the greatest thing about strength training is that it increases your calorie burn for the next 36-48 hours. This means your body will burn an increased amount of calories for nearly two more days after your workout! That is an amazing benefit. The minute you stop jogging, your increases calorie burn stops as well.
Another reason that muscle mass is your number one ally against fat gains is that a pound of muscle burns 6-10 calories each day, while you’re at rest, just living and breathing (this does not include exercise). A pound of fat only burns 2-3 calories. So your muscle mass is at least twice if not three times as active as your fat mass. Regular, consistent strength training helps you increase your muscle mass as well as preserve existing muscle mass, turning you into a fat burning machine as long as you have a healthy diet to match.
It’s a Myth…that Lifting Weights Makes Women Bulk Up
Yes, strength training increases the amount of muscle on your body; so many women take this to mean that their body will become body-builder-esque, which is not quite the look they are going for.
The truth is that the female body simply does not contain high enough levels of testosterone to produce that level of results without a very focused, dedicated effort, the right genetics, and possibly some extra help from supplements.
The tighter, toned figure of a recreational female strength trainer is every bit feminine. She has those round shoulders that look great in a tank, a slim waist, firm round legs and buns, and a strong upright frame.
It’s a Myth…that Strength Training Is For Young People Only
The more I read, listen and see, it is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT as you get older to strength train. Muscle mass changes the way that you live. It helps with your balance, endurance, and of course strength in everyday life. Losing your muscle mass as you age and slow down, also changes the way you live in very profound ways.
According to research done at Johns Hopkins, strength training in older adults reduces their risk of falling by 30% . And as a regular strength trainer, if you do happen to fall your bone density will also be higher which reduces the risk of breaking a bone.
Osteoporosis is a real issue as we age, and let’s face it, we are all getting older every day. The more resistance that you put on your bones now (no matter your age, the younger you start the better!) the stronger they will be, and the less bone mass you will lose as you get older. Furthermore, the giving your bone resistance through strength training can potentially stimulate new bone growth as well.
Many, many older people across the globe have shattered this myth by strength training their way into a healthy and active retirement. I know that I am going to keep pushing my strength every day into the far far distant future!! :)
Assuming that your doctor has given you the OK, as you age you have much to gain from a regular weight lifting routine. Improved balance and coordination, better strength and flexibility, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis are just a few of the amazing benefits to strength training throughout your later years. And if you have never lifted before, you can start anytime. I had my gram doing bicep curls and shoulder presses with soup cans. She also practiced her squats by standing up and sitting back down in her chair multiple times a day! Little things can make a big difference, as long as it is a challenge to your body - it has to be HARD to make your body change.
It’s a Myth…that Light Weights and High Reps Tone Best
This myth, popularized in the 90’s, that very high repetitions of very light weights would result in a toned physique, has become outdated. These high repetitions will increase your muscular endurance but will not add strength or tone.
We now know that in order to truly challenge your muscles, heavier weights with lower repetitions are a must. Start with an 8-10 repetition range and push your muscles with each set. Be honest with yourself, if pushups on your knees are too easy, then try a couple on your toes at the beginning of each set. It will make a big difference in your strength if you do that every time! And paying attention to your range of motion is also a big thing. If you find yourself just doing the top half of your pushups or squats or any movement, you are missing out on a great way to increase strength. Doing the bottom half of the movement as well is an even bigger challenge to your body. So find your way to the bottom of a pushup and really focus on activating your muscle fibers. You will be amazed at how fast you notice a difference in your strength.
It’s a Myth…that Barbells, Dumbbells and Lots of Equipment are Necessary...Enter MLBBC
Some equipment can be a part of your strength training routine so that you can continue to challenge your muscles as they get stronger. But the truth is that there are tons of ways to increase muscle with bodyweight strength training. I know all about this on the days when we just use our bodies in class. Those are hard workouts! I love how it feels “easy” at the beginning so I increase my focus, contract my muscles a little harder, and pause on every single rep until I am on fire. Doing body weight exercises like this lets me know I am getting everything that I can out of the workout that day!
The reason that we hold a push up at the bottom or I ask you to really thinking about squeezing your muscles as they work is important with every exercise. Really challenging your muscles and visualizing what they are doing is an important part of any workout so that you continue to gain strength. And, if it is still feeling too easy, then you need to push it a little more. Try to be the first one transitioned to the next exercise, workout next to someone a little stronger than you and try to do more than they do every time. Focus your attention on your goals every single time, and let it be your intention to get stronger. The mental drive makes a difference too!
Think about why you are at the gym every day, and keep that goal in the front of your mind while you are working out. I have said a million times, strength makes you better at your chosen sport, even if that is just the game of life! Physical strength and mental strength give you more confidence, energy, and vitality - and only you can push yourself to gain it! Go hard ladies - this is the only life we get!!!!
Including strength training as a part of your fitness routine is essential for achieving your health and fitness goals - even if one of those goals is losing weight. MyLeanBody Boot Camp workouts remove all of the guesswork for you, and if you are interested in learning more about strength training stay tuned, we will be having some sessions to help you work on your form and technique so that you feel more comfortable pushing yourself to get stronger, and you know how to stay safe! We also have some openings in our small group classes right now, so if you would like to push your body a little more, and try out weight training, let me know!! I would love to have you!