Myths And Truths About Strength Training
- Strength training increases our bone density and boosts metabolism
- It decreases depression and brings down the risk of developing an injury
- People with high BP should consult doctor before starting strength training
It is one of the most misunderstood forms of exercising, and is often overshadowed by more popular workouts, but strength training is actually one of the best ways to achieve your fitness goals. Strength training is essentially the use of resistance to strengthen ones muscles. If properly performed, strength training increases our bone density, boosts metabolism and even improves our cardiac and lipid profile.
Despite its obvious benefits, there are a lot of misconceptions about strength training. Dance & Fitness Expert Charu Shankar busts some popular myths.
1. Women will develop big bulky muscles with strength training:
Firstly, not all strength training is the same as weight-lifting. Strength training often uses lighter weights to create resistance. Even with heavier weights, the recommended 3 days of strength training per week is not going to bulk you up. Even if a woman works to lift very heavy weights, she will not develop bulky muscles as she would not have the same levels of testosterones as a man does. So unless you are taking hormonal supplements, this is a myth.
2. Strength training can tackle spot reduction like nothing else can: Our body stores fat just under the skin, and the decision on which fat stores get burned first lies with your unique body system, not with you.
Attacking one muscle group with rigorous exercise will build the muscle in that area but it may or may not burn away that particular fat store. It is a myth, so broaden your perspective and your workout – aim for overall fitness.
3. Light weights and higher repetitions improve muscle tone and heavy weights with fewer repetitions increases muscle mass: Largely, this is true but genetic factors and diets are also responsible for any individual’s responses to resistance exercises. It’s a good idea to know your body to understand how much resistance is enough. For instance, some people may find that using very light weights for many repetitions may prove to be ineffective and lead to hardly any muscle development.
4. Older people should not try strength training – this is a myth.
You may have salt and pepper hair but that does not mean that you have stopped lifting heavy objects in your home or around your kitchen. And if you are doing that – shouldn’t you be training your muscles to become stronger? Should you not be aiming for an injury-free life? Strength training can give you all that and more. You will be surprised to know that older muscles respond very well to strength training, provided you stick to good progression plan.
5. Children are too young to do strength training:
Children are not advised to lift weights as it stunt growth. This is a very popular notion but there’s hardly any research to prove it – so it is a myth. In fact, there are very specially designed exercise programs for young people, which help them to have better muscular strength, better physical ability and bone density.
6. Free weights are better than machines:
This is a subjective choice, as any form of weight training is effective to gain muscular strength. Machines tend to isolate muscle group and move them in a fixed movement pattern only – so they should supplement your training program and not dominate it. Free weights, on the other hand, can be moved around without any restraint and require body balance and stabilization. These are definitely more cost effective than machines.
So is this a truth or a myth – The decision is up to you.
7. If you are only using body weight then you are not really strength training – it is a myth.
Exercises that use body weight can be performed anytime, anywhere and require no expensive equipment. They can target all muscle groups and can very efficiently increase body strength, build mass, burn fat and define your muscles. Anyone who says that using body weight is not really strength training, has obviously not tried TRX – suspension training bodyweight exercise that helps develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously.
8. Your muscles turn to flab after you stop strength training: It is somewhat true in that you can lose your muscle tone if you stop exercising altogether and lead a sedentary life. If you are doing nothing at all, with practically no activity, the muscle mass will start to decrease naturally. This is a natural process called muscle atrophy.
However, your muscle cannot turn to fat. People also believe that muscle will turn into fat – this is simply not true. Muscle can never ever turn into fat as muscle and fat are completely different and unique body tissues, and one can’t possibly turn into another. Yes, your fat stores may increase as you are now spending lesser amounts of energy, combined with muscle atrophy.
So it is a myth that after a person stops strength training, the muscle turns flabby.
9. Strength training leads to high BP: People with very high and uncontrolled blood pressure problems should consult a doctor before starting a strength training regime.
Strength training does cause a spike in blood pressure since you are pushing continuously against immovable objects. This is why it is important to focus on your technique and breathe correctly while working out. Some studies show that people with moderate blood pressure issues may actually benefit in the long term with strength training.
10. Strength training results in a toned body and has no other real benefits: This is a myth.
Strength training offers a host of other benefits – it makes you more agile, improves your endurance and posture. It decreases depression and brings down the risk of developing an injury. It increases your body’s bone mineral density and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis. All of this apart from making you look fit and pretty awesome.