I started lifting weights when I was in my teens, and a day didn’t passed when an elder (including my dad) didn’t tell me why I should focus on sports and activities other than weight training.
I wanted to gain weight desperately, and after seeing Arnold’s “Pumping Iron,” I was more than convinced that weight training was the answer to my misery.
It has taken me a long time to build the physique I wanted. (I still feel I am not quite there, as my goal is to reach as close to my genetic potential as possible.) I had my share of struggles, and I feel I made almost every mistake in the book regarding building muscles, losing fat, and optimizing health. While it’s impossible not to get results with the kind of effort I did put into this endeavor, anyone would expect a much better return than I got. Don’t we all want to minimize our efforts and maximize the gains? Of course we all do.
One of my core reasons for creating this blog is that I want to tell people that there is a very simple way to look and feel good, unlike what conventional wisdom dictates. Because of conventional wisdom, there are many myths that still prevail regarding weight training.
Let’s debunked those myths and get the facts straight and clear.
Myth #1: Weight training makes you bulky.
During the last couple of decades, the image of the ideal male physique has continued to be distorted by the bulk craze. The general perception with weights is that weight training will make you bulky, and people believe that by lifting heavy weights, they will start to look like a bodybuilder.
What these people don’t understand is that natural muscle building is a slow process. Building proportionate and symmetrical muscles will not only make you look leaner (provided you keep your body fat between 12 and 15 percent if you are a man and between 20 and 24 percent if you are a woman), but it will also make you look good.
Ladies! Weights will make you thin, toned, and sexy, never bulky, because females have very little testosterone compared to men. Don’t be scared of weights! Keep calm and lift weights. 🙂
Myth #2: Once I stop lifting weights, all my muscles will convert to fat.
Muscle and fat are different tissues, and one cannot convert to the other. If you stop lifting weights, you will surely lose muscle and store more body fat because the caloric expenditure from weight training will decrease. If you keep your eating habits the same, you will gain weight (mostly fat). This will happen if you ditch any training for that matter.
The best part about building muscles is if you start again after a long gap, you will regain your lost muscles much, much faster because of “muscle memory”! However, that doesn’t give you a reason to be lazy, and being consistent with your workouts is the key to keep looking good and being healthy. Weight lifting is a lifestyle, not an event.
Myth #3: Weight training makes you inflexible.
Weight training is a fine art, and if performed with full range of motion, it can make you flexible. Consider a study conducted by SK Morton to determine how full-range resistance training (RT) affected flexibility and strength compared to static stretching (SS) of the same muscle-joint complexes in untrained adults. Twenty five volunteers were randomized into an RT or SS training group. A group of twelve inactive volunteers served as a convenience control group (CON).
Results suggested that there was absolutely no difference in hamstring flexibility, hip flexion, and hip extension movement between the resistance training and static stretching groups, but both were superior to the third group that did nothing at all. This confirms the fact that carefully constructed full-range RT regimes as well as the typical SS regimes employed in conditioning programs can improve flexibility.
Myth #4: Weight training is not safe.
Weight training is one of the safest activities. It has only a 0.0035 percent injury occurrence rate according to USA Weight Lifting. Weight training is a skill, and if learned properly, it can be a wonderful experience. There two, and only two, reasons why people injure themselves while lifting weights: insufficient warmup and incorrect technique!
Myth #5: Weight training stunts growth.
Steve Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger both started weight lifting in their teens. They are both more than six feet (185 cm) tall. I stand at 186 cm, and I starting lifting in my early teens. I have not come across any study which proves that weight training stunts growth. On the contrary, weight training produces more human growth hormone, which as the name suggests, initiates more growth in the body.
Myth #6: Weight training is boring and monotonous.
Before my dad started playing golf, he was under the impression that it was a sport for oldies. He wondered why on earth anyone who has energy and rigor (he claimed golf to be an extremely boring and slow sport) would ever spend so much money on a golf kit and strive to get membership in a golf course, which is not an easy feat anywhere in the world. (He played lawn tennis then.)
Weight training seems like that on the surface. So many people who join a gym are clueless about what to do. They don’t do their own research and rely on gym trainers who then prescribe a generic routine. And when people don’t get results within a few weeks, they ditch weights, thinking they are more suited for cardio training.
I can promise you one thing: If you start weight training with a proper mindset and correct principles, you will start getting immediate results, and you will become addicted. Read my guide on weight training for beginners that will get you started in a proper way.
By the way, my dad now has a golf handicap in the single digits! That’s what passion can do to someone, and I am all for passion. 🙂
What do you think about these weight training myths? Have anything you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!