Weight Training Myths (and Truths) You Should Know Before You Start

We’re busting myths and reinforcing truths about weight training. Before you hit the gym, read up on the myths and truths about lifting weights. You may be surprised to see what experts say!

Plus, learn why women should get off the treadmill.

Myth: You don’t need to lift weights

Weights at a gym laid out in rows.

Lifting weights is not optional. | iStock.com

According to The Mayo Clinic, “the type of physique most men and women want actually requires that they gain a fair amount of muscle mass, and weightlifting is the only way to do that efficiently.” This means strength training is necessary to reach your goals. Strength training adds definition to the muscles you’re making stronger. The stronger your muscles, the more toned you’ll be as a result.

Truth: Form is No. 1

Woman working out with some dumbbells.

Good form will prevent bad injuries. | iStock.com

Form is everything when it comes to weight training. Proper form works muscles better and prevents injury. “Back straight, chest up” is a phrase people constantly hear at the gym because correct form will give you results. During a workout, if you notice you can’t maintain proper form throughout an entire set, switch to a lighter weight. No matter what, think to yourself about maintaining good form during all your reps.

Myth: Weights make women bulky

A woman works out in her living room.

You don’t have to worry about gaining too much muscle. | Diego_cervo/iStock/Getty Images

Women bypass weights for the treadmill because they want to look long and lean, not bulky. But you shouldn’t worry about bulking up and looking like the Hulk if you start strength training.

“Ninety percent of women are physiologically unable to build muscle to the degree where they would be considered ‘bulky,'” Holly Perkins, author and creator of Women’s Strength Nation, told Prevention. “It is simply a function of estrogen and lack of testosterone; you will never build muscle like a man’s, unless you are trying to achieve that result,” Perkins added.

Truth: Challenge yourself

Woman lifting weights and working on her shoulders.

You can challenge yourself without straining your joints and muscles. | SolisImages/iStock/Getty Images

You want to continually challenge yourself in the weight room. Perform more reps with light weights or fewer reps with heavier weights. The term for this method is called, progressive overload. Progressive overload means challenging a muscle to continue seeing results, according to SELF. The idea is to keep your muscles guessing, constantly forcing them to adapt. Changing up your workouts will also keep you from hitting a plateau!

Myth: Bodyweight exercises are just as good as weightlifting

Woman in sportswear doing a side plank.

Weights should be a part of your workout routine. | G-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Bodyweight exercises can provide excellent results. Lifting only your body weight is convenient if you’re traveling and want to get a workout in. But, bodyweight exercises shouldn’t be the only way you strength train. Perkins has the answer. “But you’ll never be able to lift more than your body weight doing these types of programs,” Perkins told Prevention. “I want women to think bigger.”

Truth: You must add variety to your workouts

Female workout in gym with barbell.

Try a new class or incorporate some new moves. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Humans are creatures of habit. We like to sit in the same seat and take the same route to work. This also applies to workouts. We like to do exercises we’re familiar with when we workout.

Repeating the same moves will make you stronger to a certain point, then you’ll experience a plateau. Varying exercises will target muscle groups in different ways and keep you from being bored with your workouts.

Myth: Cardio burns more fat

People at gym on elliptical bikes.

Cardio alone won’t give you the shape and definition you’re looking for. | MaxRiesgo/iStock/Getty Images

Cardio doesn’t burn more calories than fat. But don’t take our word for it, listen to celebrity trainer, Valerie Waters. “Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in our bodies, so the more muscle you have, the more energy you expend just to keep living,” Waters told Women’s Health. This means the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll be burning.

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