Weight Lifting Myths. Image Source: d_vdm.
If you've spent some time in a gym or if you told people you were into weight lifting, you've most likely received plenty of unsolicited advice on what you should do and not do for maximum results & safety.
But how much truth is there behind all those things they tell you? Science or broscience? Here are the top 12 weight lifting myths — debunked.
Myth #1: Weight Lifting is Dangerous. Machines have the reputation to be safer than free weights. But studies tell a different story.
- Weight lifting does not produce more injuries compared to machines.
- Weight lifting injury rates are lower than in any other sport.
Weight lifting is used for (p)rehabilitation because it can prevent and fix injuries. The only way you can injure yourself, is if you use bad technique or don't control your ego. Use your head and you'll be safe.
Myth #2:Weight Lifting is Bad For Your Joints. Weight lifting is less stressful on your joints than running: it involves controlled, non-impact movements.
Weight lifting - and especially strength training - will increase the health of your joints by strengthening the muscles & ligaments that hold them together.
- Squatters have healthier knees than non Squatters. Studies performed on top Powerlifters confirm that their knees are in better health than those of the general population.
- Several StrongLifts.com readers recovering from ACL injuries or who had persistent knee problems for years, reported that their knee pain went away forever after 2-3 months of doing Squats.
Myth #3: Weight Lifting Causes High Blood Pressure. Your blood pressure increases when you lift heavy weights. But it returns to normal after finishing your set. That's how lifting improves your cardiovascular fitness.
People who lift weights with the focus on strength training have lower blood pressures than people who don't exercise. Studies show that regular weight lifting lowers your systolic & diastolic blood pressure.
Myth #4: Weight Lifting Makes You Bulky. Muscle is denser than fat. You'll look slimmer at the same body-weight if you increase your muscle mass. The huge guys in muscle magazines are usually supplementing.
Many skinny guys train 6x/week but struggle to gain weight. Why? Because they aren't eating enough. Getting bulky means gaining weight. And to gain weight, you must eat more. Training hard only won't do the job.
Myth #5: Weight Lifting Makes Women Bulky. Those muscular women you can find in muscle magazines had to use steroids to get to that point.
As a woman you can build muscle, get stronger and improve your physique. But you'll never build as much muscle mass as men can because you have lower testosterone levels. You'll always stay feminine unless you use steroids.
Myth #6: Weight Lifting Stunts Growth. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Dave Draper, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Michael Vick, etc. They all started lifting weights in their early teens and are +6′ /1m82 tall.
The only way weight lifting can stunt your growth is if you damage your growth plate by letting the bar fall on you. But if you use proper technique, you'll be safer than with Rugby or Soccer where collisions are common.
Supervise youth lifting weights. Enforce proper technique and discourage ego. Note that some believe weight lifting can actually stimulate growth because it increases bone mineralization.
Myth #7: Weight Lifting Decreases Flexibility. One of the realizations people who get into weight lifting have is how inflexible they are. Years of sedentary lifestyle may have tighten your hips, preventing you to Squat correctly.
Weight lifting will make you regain your flexibility and maintain it. Especially the Squat will give your hip muscles a full stretch. But increasing your muscle mass or strength won't reduce your flexibility at all.
Myth #8: Weight Lifting Makes You Slow. Strong muscles contract faster and generate more power. That's why professional athletes like Shaquille O'Neil or Tiger Woods do weight lifting: strength training makes you faster.
Myth #9: Weight Lifting Causes Hemorrhoids. The right way to breathe during a lift is to hold your breath and push it against your closed glottis. This keeps your lower back safe by increasing pressure in your abdomen.
If you hold your breath and push it towards your anus you can get hemorrhoids. Avoid by breathing correctly: use the valsalva maneuver. Drink lots of water and eat green veggies, fruits & fiber for optimal digestion.
Myth #10: Muscle Turns to Fat If You Stop Weight Lifting. Muscle never turns to fat. They're different tissues. If you stop weight lifting, you also have to eat less than before otherwise you'll get fat.
Some believe that if you train long enough your muscles will never come back to their pre-trained state. This is probably linked to muscle memory: it's easier to regain muscle than to build it from scratch.
Myth #11: Weight Lifting Increases Waist Size. This myth comes from looking at some Power Lifters in the heaviest classes. Their waist is big because they're fat. And they're fat is because they only care about getting stronger.
Check Power Lifters in the lighter classes: they all have a small waist. Squats & Deadlifts work your abs hard. Everyone who does these exercises for a couple of weeks reports losing several inches waist size.
Myth #12: Weight Lifting is Boring. It is if you go the gym without a plan, don't pay attention to what you do when lifting and don't get results. But it won't if you have a plan, get results and focus on how your body moves during a lift.
Weight lifting is a technical & intellectual sport. You shouldn't have time to get bored since you have so many things to pay attention to during the lift. And the constant challenge to add weight is anything but boring.
The real fun though is when you start getting results. Hard work paying off is what will get you addicted. Check StrongLifts 5x5 for a routine that will get you results. It only takes 3x45mins/week. Read the success stories.