I believe strength training should be the top modality for any type of fitness goals and needs. I will explain why that is in my next post. For now, I’d like to address some common myths concerning strength training. These are the most frequent things I hear from my clients and potential clients as to why they have postponed a strength training program.
Myth vs. Truth
MYTH: I don’t want to bulk up (especially women).
The fact of the matter is, you can become very strong without becoming very big. There are a variety of strength training modules, and how you end up looking along the way is largely dependent upon your goals. If you want to bulk up, sure, it’s entirely possible. However, for most who strength train, this is neither the desired outcome nor the end result. It also takes a lot of hormones, added supplements, and enormous amounts of food to achieve that look. The average person is not into strength training to look like the Incredible Hulk. So unless that is your goal, and you pump the necessary supplements and hormones into your body, that is not going to happen. Will your muscles become more defined? Absolutely. Will your muscles get bigger? Yes. But, you will also get leaner, not larger, and you will not find the need to cut the sleeves off of your shirt because your biceps are too big to fit.
TRUTH: If you want to get stronger and not bulk up, strength training would be a perfect choice for you.
MYTH: You can hurt yourself strength training.
Yes (OK, not so much a myth, but it is preventable). If done improperly, this is absolutely true. But, you can also hurt yourself just walking through the parking lot. As with everything, it needs to be performed mindfully, purposefully, and properly. The majority of strength training injuries come from those who do not train properly (improper form) or try to lift more than they are able.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve done any type of exercise, or you feel you’re too weak to start strength training and think you need to “start slow” with something “easier.” The truth is, strength training is the baseline for any other type of activity you want or need to perform. You need strength to perform your daily activities. You need strength to improve your quality of life.
A large percentage of my clients are women. Many have commented on how they delayed a strength-training program because they knew they couldn’t even lift a 45-pound bar. Let me state this another way… they felt they couldn’t start a strength training program until they first built up a certain level of strength… Does it sound silly when it’s stated that way? Because it should. I get it, ladies, I do. But, that is the purpose of a strength training program. Please do not delay starting a routine based on this fact alone.
Neither I nor any trainer worth his salt would start a beginner on the bench press or with a squat bar. If you can only sustain your body weight, that’s where we begin. The beauty of strength training is, you see the results quickly. In a matter of weeks, depending on how often you train, you will gain the strength that is needed to move on to equipment. But, that does not happen until you are ready and strong enough to do so.
TRUTH: If you feel you are too weak to start a strength training program and because of that, you might hurt yourself, strength training would be a perfect choice for you.
MYTH: It’s too late (or early) in life for me to start strength training.
This is absolutely false. I’ve had clients ranging in age from 6 up into their 80s. Sure, the later in life you start, the more work you may have to do. You might also have some existing ailments that come along with you. But you are still perfectly capable of getting stronger and improving your quality of life. Whatever ailments you may have, let your trainer know so you are sure to receive a workout regimen that works with you and not against you. Depending on what you suffer from, strength training may very well help you manage the situation better.
Your physical capabilities, more so than your age, are going to influence your goals. If you have arthritis, trouble walking, and can’t lift a grocery bag, no matter your age, your goals will differ from a person who does not have these setbacks. But, that’s all that they are, setbacks; they are not a life sentenced to inactivity and weakness. Strength training can help improve quality of life by enabling a person to do more things for themselves without having to rely on others for assistance. It’s not a cure, it can’t take away degenerative disease or other ailments, but it can always, always help improve your quality of life. Even if that just means being able to take your dog for a walk or fix your own cup of coffee.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. It has a name, it’s called sarcopenia. It’s the one thing that strength training not only stops but reverses. How? Well, by building more muscle mass, of course. If you are aging (which, by the way, we all are…) and you’re not strength training or doing some sort of exercise that at least maintains your muscles, then you are losing muscle mass. Since this is something that we do not want happening to our bodies, if you’re using “I’m too old to start” as an excuse, it’s a bad one, and you should definitely be strength training!
TRUTH: Strength training is beneficial at any age, young, old, and everything in between!
Now that you know that you’re not too old, you’re not too young, and that you won’t hulk out when you hit the gym, I hope you’re at least one step closer to considering a strength training program. There are many more myths to bust concerning strength training, and I plan to write more on this later. In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns, or a specific myth that you would like for me to address, be sure to leave it in the comments below and I will get back to you!
My next post will lay out exactly why I feel strength training is the best way to reach your fitness goals, no matter what they are. If you need to take those first steps to no longer be a couch potato, or just want to tone up, or you want to become a competitive powerlifter, strength training can get you there.
Until then, Live Strong! ~ Zak