There are so many misconceptions when it comes to strength training.  It’s time to debunk some of those strength training myths.

Team myHMB athlete Eric Todd is here to set the record straight on popular strength training myths.

I have been around the strength game for many moons now.  In that time, there have been many fundamental beliefs that have been debunked as old wife’s tales. Some of them probably hold on as true in some trainee’s minds to this day.  Today, I am going to discuss the top 5 strength training myths that I am aware of.  

muscular male athlete deadlifting a barbell

1.  Lifting makes you ‘muscle bound’

Lifting weights will make you ‘muscle bound’ and incapable of athleticism.  You might look strong but will be incapable of moving functionally.  

FALSE!  I think back to the weight training videos that were posted in the early 2000s featuring Tiki Barber, and how his training translated to his movement on the football field.  It does not take long to recognize being “muscle bound” is a myth unless you do absolutely nothing else to be an athlete.  Almost all top end professional or Olympic athletes incorporate weight training into their workout routines and those athletes are by no means ‘muscle bound’.

2. Muscle turns to fat as you age

The muscle that you build in training will turn to fat when you get older.  

FALSE!  Muscle and fat are two completely different substances with completely different makeups.  So, unless you are an alchemist, your muscle will never turn into fat.  

What does happen is after a certain age, one starts to naturally lose an amount of muscle mass.  This can be negated with nutrition, training, and supplementation, but inherently it will happen to all of us.  Perhaps life gets in the way of the trainee, or injuries slow down training.  And while the trainee is used to eating a certain amount due to the number of calories being required to train like they are used to, that same amount may no longer be required.  And while old habits die hard, you may now be ingesting surplus calories which are not being burned which now are stored as fat. 

woman in a gym performing a bent over row

3. Women should not lift heavy

Women should not lift heavy if they do not want to bulk up and/or look masculine.

FALSE!  Males bulk up with weight training due to their significantly higher testosterone levels compared to their female counterparts.  Depending on what source you look at, men can have up to 950 nanograms per deciliter of testosterone, while women can have up to 60-75 nanograms per deciliter.  A male can have over twelve times the testosterone levels of females.  

Women can definitely train for strength, muscular definition, and muscular endurance with weights, but they will not become masculine or “bulky” without serious supplementation, most likely of the illegal variety.

4. You can target fat loss

You can target fat loss in particular areas of your body through exercise.  

FALSE!  While exercise can contribute to calorie burn, it coupled with a nutritional, calorie deficit diet can result in a general fat loss.  Unfortunately, we do not get to personally decide where that fat loss comes from.  That is usually dictated by genetics.  

My incessant ab work is not going to miraculously result in the abdominal fat being shed and revealing a six-pack, but when I have cleaned up my diet and done enough to shed enough body fat that the abdominal fat decides to go away, that marvelous washboard will be there waiting to be shown.

older male adult on a weightlifting platform with a barbell

5. Weight training can cripple you

Weight training will result in your being crippled in old age.  

FALSE!  As with anything, you can certainly overdo weight training.  And overdoing it can have negative effects on your joints.  

Training intelligently and methodically has health benefits as you age.  It increases bone density which will help combat osteoporosis.  The increased muscular strength developed through weight training can help with mobility and independence as you age.  For instance, you will be more likely to have the capacity to pick yourself back up off the floor at 85 to avoid those Life alert moments.

There are more misconceptions about weightlifting that we could get into, but these are five of the strength training myths that I have heard the most over time that I wanted to address.

Want to improve your muscle health?  Try myHMB.

Many studies have shown the positive effects of HMB in muscle mass and strength, mobility, and overall muscle function for aging adults. Learn more.

Strongman Eric Todd with tire

Eric Todd

Eric Todd is the proud dad of two children, a Junior high special education teacher, and a coach of wrestling and track.  He has always had a competitive drive starting with Collegiate wrestling and now specializes in strength sports with more than 18 years of experience.  He was an ASC Professional Strongman for many years and now competes in All-Round Weightlifting.  Eric Todd even holds a Guiness World Record from successfully lifting 453.59 kg (1,000 lbs.) in the neck lift.

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