Weightlifting Part 2: The Truth Behind Lifting

Okay, so the first thing I want to address in this second part is 5 common myths that just simply ARE NOT TRUE about weightlifting. (Here is the first part in this series if you missed it!) It’s important that these myths are discussed and debunked, because quite honestly, some women (and men) might be choosing not to lift or not to continue lifting due to some of these. In order to decide if lifting could be the right fit for you, it’s crucial to understand it as a whole, and see lifting compared to other types of exercise. That’s why the second part of this blog will be about Weights vs. Cardio and comparing the two. I hope this post gives you more insight on the truth behind weightlifting and inspires you to give it a shot!

Myth #1: Lifting will make you bulk up like a man

This is probably the biggest myth heard in the fitness world and it is simply, and biologically, not true. Women do not have as much testosterone nor the same hormonal response to it that men do. Therefore, we cannot and will not bulk up like the Hulk from lifting. Instead, it allows us to build our muscles and have an overall toned look.

Myth #2: If you’re not sore after, it’s not working

This used to be my biggest disappointment: I would work hard in the gym yet find that I was not sore the day or two after. I thought surely I wasn’t actually building muscle. False! While yes in order to build muscle you have to tear the muscle fibers, this won’t always mean you’re going to be sore. Soreness is found to be poorly correlated with the magnitude of muscle damage. Bottom line? Do not base your training session’s productivity based on how sore you are (or aren’t); instead, strive to continue to grow and lift heavier, more reps, etc.

Myth #3: Women shouldn’t life heavy

This statement aggravates and angers me to no end: especially as an intense athlete who fully enjoys lifting heavy weight. Going heavier in your training will increase muscle fiber thickness which leads you to being stronger not bulkier. The reason bodybuilders look bulky when lifting heavy is because they often follow a different plan to increase fluid in their muscle cells–creating that bulky look. For regular women, lifting heavy (not light) will actually make you stronger, and more fit!

Myth #4: Fit people can start out lifting heavy

Okay, I know I said lifting heavy over light is important in your training. BUT, if you are just starting out and are new to lifting (even if you’ve exercised a lot and are “fit”), you don’t want to risk injury by pushing too heavy too fast. Start out at a comfortable weight where your last reps are a struggle and increase weight when your last few reps feel easy. It’s important to  make sure you have the correct form and movements down before you suddenly start trying to lift heavy…don’t worry you’ll get (and surpass) there one day and when you do, you’ll feel so proud!

Myth #5: Muscle will turn to fat if you decide to stop lifting

WRONG! Muscle and fat cells are completely different–like apples and oranges. Muscle cannot morph into fat cells and vice versa. However, it may seem you’re packing on fat when you stop lifting. This is because once you stop, your muscle mass will decrease which will decrease  your overall calories burn. Yes, more muscle = more calorie burn throughout the day. Bonus!

Okay, so now let’s get into comparing Weight Lifting and Cardio.

  1. People think that cardio is the only way to burn and/or lose fat, but actually strength training is better for toning and weight loss. This is because of the afterburn effects. While cardio burns more calories per minute during (12 vs 10), weights help your body to continue burning more even after the workout–up to 25 percent more! Your metabolism also stays elevated by up to 10 percent for the 3 days after you lift.
  2. Cardio also isn’t the only way to get your heart rate elevated. If you keep moving throughout your sets, either by doing circuits, or incorporating plyometrics such as jump squats. Heavy-lifting whole body movements, such as squats, RDLs, lunges, etc. can increase your heart rate as well.
  3. Strength training builds muscle and athleticism more than simply cardio does. This is because you are putting resistance on your muscles with the weights which tears the fibers and builds your muscles. Not to say that people who do cardio don’t or can’t have good muscles, but it won’t be the same as weightlifting would do for the body. Also, cardio, such as running, can put more pressure on your joints leading to more injury than lifting (as long as you use correct form!).

Strength training is just one type of exercise, and it’s not to say that running or other cardio isn’t good, especially because it depends on your goals.WEightlifting has many benefits and is an excellent way to stay fit and in shape, either by itself or included with running. At the end of the day, it is important to find what works for you, your body, life and goals! But, if you haven’t tried weightlifting yet (whether due to one of the myths or not), I would highly suggest you give it a shot. You never know what you’ll find–it certainly has transformed my life!

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