There is an abundance of fitness information at our fingertips. Fitness and wellness have exploded in recent years with a vast number of people involved in some activity to improve their health and ability. With this comes many myths.
Here are a few and the actual facts.
1) Myth: If women lift weights they will get bulky.
Fact: If women lift weights they will tone up. By toning up I mean their muscles will gain some density and be firmer. It is extremely hard for a female to gain significant amounts of muscle size. This is because muscle growth stems from testosterone levels, which are much higher in men than women. Often women who are trying to lose body fat and weigh training will mistakenly think they are gaining size are their muscles harden up under an unwanted layer of body fat. The firmness makes them think they are getting bigger but in reality the added muscle density will help them get leaner. Muscle size can be gained by a female but it requires very high training intensity and precise, timed nutrition.
2) Myth: Any male who has gained a significant amount of muscle must be using anabolic steroids.
Fact: While steroids are prevalent in just about all intense sports it is very possible to gain muscle by hard training and good nutrition. I have seen many dedicated athletes gain ten to 15 pounds of muscle in as little as a year. I myself started at 165 and over the course of ten to twelve years reached a weight of 215 with a bodyfat level of 10-12%. I have been able to maintain that weight within 5 pounds for over 20 years. If done correctly this can make an athlete stronger, faster, more explosive with reflexes and less likely to get injures. Gaining muscle takes consistency in training and nutrition. If either is missing the gains will be minimal. Sports supplementation is now a science and can tremendously aid in muscle gain and retention.
3) Myth: Weight training will make you muscle bound or less flexible.
Fact: While improper training using very short ranges of motion for very low reps might lessen your flexibility, full range moderate rep training will enhance it. Training this way will also make you stronger through a full range of motion.
4) Myth: If you train, get in shape and then stop, all your muscles will turn into fat.
Fact: This is physically impossible. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat. One cannot turn into another. However if you were overweight, cleaned up your eating and started training and got in shape and then stopped and went back to your old habits you will go back to your previous condition. Your lifestyle habits dictate to a large degree the shape you will be in. Eat junk and do little and there is a good change you will eventually end up overweight.
5) Myth: The best way to lose weight is lots of cardio.
Fact: The best way to lose weight is clean up your eating and do regular short intense sessions of weigh training and cardio. You cannot exercise off poor nutrition so first thing is simply clean it up. Follow this with smart weight training to elevate the metabolism and short cardio sessions to keep you in good enough shape cardio wise to actually be able to do the intense weigh training.
6) Myth: Everyone that goes to the gym is in shape so I better get in shape before I go.
Fact: There is a huge cross section of members at a gym. Veterans who have been in shape for years, people who are just starting, returning after a layoff, teens, seniors and everyone in between. You will find your place. You will fit in and with a bit of tenacity and patience you too will be in better shape. Its you, your goals and actions that determine how far you will take it.
7) Myth: I’m too old to train now. I wish I would have started years ago.
Fact: Truth is if you feel this way you are probably too old not to start. There are few things that are better for your health, vitality, body, mind and vigor that a sensible resistance training program that suits YOU. However it is paramount that you take it easy, learn how to do it. Educate yourself on proper training, how to workout without hurting your self, getting a solid mind muscle connection. Seniors benefit tremendously from weight training when done right. You can train hard, you can challenge yourself and you can leave the gym stronger and better than when you first start. Its up to you and a good trainer to help you understand how it works and what your individual limitations might be.
8) Myth: If I work out I have to go on a very strict diet.
Fact: That is entirely up to you. Truth is if you want to lose body fat you will probably have to make a few changes to your caloric intake. Weight training burns calories, revs up the metabolism. This helps but if you are eating way too much of the wrong foods a change in the quality or quantity of your nutrition will speed up the process. Many people train who are not looking to lose weight. These people need not be as strict on nutrition. Still, the more nutritious foods you eat and the less “junk” foods the leaner, stronger and more energetic you will be. You will find what works for you and what you can maintain without feeling deprived. Even the most dedicated of trainers don’t eat perfect.
9) Myth: To see any noticeable changes in my fitness levels or amount of lean muscle mass I have to train just about every day for hours.
Fact: If you are training every day for hours at a time you are probably not training high intensity. Intense training does not happen overnight but most experienced trainers are hit the weights for about an hour three to five days a week for most of the year. Recovery is just as important as training and this happens while the body is at rest. The harder you are able to train and the stronger that mind muscle connection is the better. This will mean greater results with less training and less chance of physical and mental burnout.
10) Myth: All exercises are the same as long as I train hard.
Fact: There are certain basic exercises that are simply superior at adding strength and muscle. There are the basic multi joint movements that work the muscles as a group. While no one exercise is a must, you should always include the basics in your training. Choose from squats, deadlifts, leg presses, lunges, hack squats, benches, rows, chin ups, cleans, dips. If you are doing some basics for every body part, doing them right and intensely and fueling your body for repair and growth results will be yours.