Seven Strength Training Myths Busted

Strength Training is an essential part of everyone’s workout plan.  Trouble is, there are some myths floating around that keep many people from strength training.  Some people won’t even consider it because of these myths.  With the help of the American Council on Exercise, I am here to bust seven of them.

  1. Women will build bulky muscles when they strength train:  Ladies, one essential element is missing from our makeup that makes this a myth. Tons of testosterone. Sure we all have a little of the male hormone running around in our systems, but not enough to look like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of old. If women strength train, even with heavy weights three times per week, we will tone up and look leaner and younger.  We also will increase our metabolisms which means (BONUS) we can eat more healthy food without adding fat to our frames. Who’s not in favor of that??
  2. You should use light weights and a high amount of reps to tone and heavy weights and low reps to build muscle: This is one I had heard (and believed) for years.  Truth is, weather you use heavy weights and low reps, or lighter weights and more reps, your results when it comes to muscle endurance, strength and size will be similar as long as the targeted muscles fatigue in less than 90 seconds.
  3. At some point, you will get too old to lift weights: The good news is that older muscles are very responsive to resistance training. In 2009 a group of 90 year old participants added 4 lbs. of muscle in just 14 weeks of strength training. Strength training has also been shown to add bone density for older adults which is more good news in the fight against osteoporosis.
  4. Kids are too young to lift weights: Not true.  The key here is a properly designed program, so have a qualified professional (like a certified personal trainer) work with your child. The biggest benefit for kids is increased bone density. Nine year old girls who took part in a 10 month strength training program increased their bone density by 6.2%.  The control group had only a 1.4% increase. Weightlifting also has a much better safety record than other sports activities your children can participate in.
  5. Free Weights are always better than machines: Both types of weights come out even when looking at factors such as concentric and eccentric muscle actions and progressive resistance that fatigues the prime mover muscle groups. Each type has its particular advantages and disadvantages, so you would have to do your research and see which type would be best for your situation.
  6. When you stop strength training the muscle turns to fat: Not only untrue, but impossible.  Muscle tissue and fat tissue can’t magically “turn into” each other.  When you weight train, your muscles get firmer and stronger and your metabolism increases to get energy to these new and improved muscles. If you continue to eat the same amount of calories as before, your body will use its fat stores to send energy to the muscles (even while you are at rest). If you stop strength training, just the opposite happens. You are more likely to put those fat stores back on. So make weight training a lifestyle commitment. If an injury or illness stops you for any length of time, reduce your calorie intake and avoid the add-on of unwanted fat.
  7. Strength training is bad for your blood pressure: Wrong again. Circuit strength training has a positive affect on resting blood pressure. Research shows an average of 4% lowering of diastolic blood pressure and a 3% lowering of systolic blood pressure after several weeks of circuit strength training. Myths about this more than likely got started when people held their breath during weight training.  So remember, keep breathing during strength training sessions.

So…good for women, men, older adults and children. What’s stopping you?? Get started in a strength training program today!

Build Your Self Confidence by Building Your Muscles

In your quest to find ways to build your self confidence have you ever thought about starting a  strength training program? I know they may seem worlds apart when you first think about it, but consider these connections:

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise (strength training qualifies) increases endorphin levels in your brain.  That’s the “reward chemical” your body gives itself when you do something to keep the species going.  In caveman times, you got rewarded when you ran around chasing down your dinner.  You still got that reward when you went to work and did physical.  Now we don’t move around so much to earn our keep.  You have to get your reward chemicals through exercise.  You know how relaxed and calm you feel after a workout?  Endorphins. Feeling good and at peace with yourself on a regular basis will increase your self confidence.
  • Strength training improves your overall appearance.  If you replace five lbs. of fat with five lbs. of muscle, you will be leaner and more fit.  A better overall appearance improves your self esteem. Did you know you lose 1/2 pound of muscle every year after age 30?
  • If you physically feel stronger, you feel more self-sufficient.  If you don’t have to depend on others to do physical tasks for you, you will gain confidence.
  • Strength training increases your metabolism.  Muscles require more energy to sustain themselves, even while you are sleeping.  Your energy level increases.  More energy makes you feel better about yourself, which increases your self confidence.
  • Physical strength lowers your chance of injury.  If you are healthy and injury free, you are more self sufficient.  Don’t we all feel more self confident when we can live more independantly?
  • My two favorite strength training programs are P90X and ChaLean Extreme.   Have you tried any others? If you are feeling a lack of self confidence, try a strength training program.  You most definitely will notice a difference!

 

Muscular Strength

Do you want to be able to do your favorite physical activities without tiring out right after you start?  Do you want to be leaner? (more muscle/less fat) Do you want better posture? Do you want to have less chance of injury? Sure you do!  Muscular strength is defined as the amount of force a muscle can produce in a single effort.  You can improve muscular strength by getting involved in strength training exercises.  Ladies:  Strength training will not turn you into a giant walking muscle.  It will replace those flabby places you don’t like with more muscle mass.  Guys:  Strength training will bring you quick and very visual results that I’m sure you will like.

You can strength train by using free weights (dumbbells and barbells), weight machines (check out your local gym), or your own body weight (crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, leg raises etc.)  You can also use a combination of these in your training routine.

When you start a fitness program it’s so so important to work on muscular strength as well as cardiorespiratory endurance.  Two of my favorite fitness programs that incorporate strength training into an overall fitness program are Beachbody’s P90X and ChaLean Extreme.  These programs include cardio, strength training, muscular endurance and flexibility with a progressive plan to improve your fitness level.  What are some strength training programs you think are effective?