There are plenty of myths and misconceptions in the world of health. One of the leading areas in that regard is weight training. Lifting weights, resistance training, pumping iron, whatever phrase you want to attach to it… there is plenty of confusion on the topic. Let’s try to clear the air a little.
You Will Turn Into She Hulk
Too many women worry about negative repercussions from lifting weights, primarily centered around the misconception that it will lead to bulky muscles and a loss of their prized femininity. This myth is also circulated among running enthusiasts, who want to keep their bodies as lean as possible.
Unless you are making a very concerted effort to bulk up by taking steroids or other testosterone-boosting supplements, your body’s natural hormonal makeup just doesn’t support that kind of muscle growth.
Ironically, the opposite is true. Since muscle is leaner than fat, a dedicated weight training program should yield a tighter and leaner figure.
Injuries Are Common
As long as you are following proper form and not overdoing it with your newfound zeal for fitness, the chance for injuries can be minimized. You can’t create zero injury risk, but you also can’t do that any time you walk out the door. But you don’t resist ever leaving your home, do you?
A particular concern is that you will injure your joints. While this is technically possible if you are not using proper form and being careful, it’s not an inherent part of normal strength training. This is yet another irony: a solid exercise routine actually helps your joints, especially for those who are over 40 and feel stiffness in our joints on a daily basis.
Muscle Can Turn to Fat
This is one of the odder misconceptions that has been floating around for years. The fear is that if you build muscle and stop working out for any reason, you are left with fat that would not have been there if you didn’t start lifting weights in the first place. Simply put, muscle and fat are two different types of tissue, they can’t magically transform into one another.
Cardio Burns More Calories Than Weight Lifting
There is an element of truth to this myth, but it’s only part of the story. Yes, performing a cardio routine burns more calories than a weight lifting routine of the same length of time. But that only accounts for the calories burned during the exercise.
Strength training burns calories much longer after the workout is done. The key lies in what is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Without getting into the technical jargon, this refers to the amount of oxygen needed to bring you back to your resting metabolic level. Think of a car after a long road trip… it’s parked, but remains hot for a while before cooling down. The same can be said for our bodies, but in our case, we elevate our calorie burning during that cooling down period, sometimes as long as 48 hours after a strength training workout.
If you have been resisting the weights because you think you can get all you need out of a cardio routine, think again. While cardio has its worthwhile health benefits, you are doing yourself a disservice by neglecting strength training.
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