There are a number of myths with regards to weightlifting which have emerged over the years. A number of these myths have been challenged in recent times in order to improve general fitness, muscle tone and fat levels. We will now take a look at some of the more common weightlifting myths and the truth behind the fiction.
Regular weightlifting will result in bulking up
There is a general misconception that regular weightlifting will automatically result in bulking up with large muscles and low levels of fat. It is fair to say that regular weightlifting will encourage muscle growth and reduce fat content in the body but becoming leaner is very different to bulking up. If you think about it, in order to create significantly larger than normal muscles this needs energy to fuel exercise, energy which needs to come from your diet. So, unless you increase your calorie intake, thereby increasing your energy supply, you will likely become leaner but not necessarily bulk up.
In simple terms, as you exercise the body requires energy and if this energy is not received from your diet then the body will simply burn fat. This is obviously the best way to lose fat content in your body but if you exercise above and beyond your fat energy reserves, what happens next? Simple, the body will then turn to muscle tissue in order to create the energy required to fuel your exercises – not the way to bulk up.
Once you stop weightlifting your muscle will turn to fat
If anything this is one of the more bizarre myths surrounding weightlifting especially when you bear in mind that fat and muscle are two totally different things. Just as fat will never convert to muscle, muscle will never convert to fat and indeed there is evidence to suggest that even after you stop weightlifting, muscle will help you to continue burning fat. There is researcher which shows that intense exercise can result in more calories being burned in the 16 to 24 hour period after your exercises end than during your exercise period.
Lifting heavy weights is the only way to increase muscle
If you are looking to build muscles then it would seem fairly obvious that lifting heavy weights will push you to the limit and result in more muscle content. However, research has shown that other types of exercise can be just as effective when looking to increase muscle and decrease fat. Any exercise which effectively pushes your body to the limit will result in microscopic muscle tears which are the key to growing bigger and stronger muscles. The body will repair these microscopic tears bigger and stronger than before thereby increasing muscle and burning fat. There is also a danger of pushing yourself too far, causing injury and significantly impacting the muscle growth process. It is also worth remembering that your muscles do need time to rebuild and repair so rest days are essential.
Weightlifting and exercise is bad for your joints
There is a general misconception that weightlifting and exercises such as running are bad for your joints, especially the knee area. While there is no doubt that these types of exercises do put increased pressure on these areas of the body, research has shown that regular exercise does in fact strengthen joints. This then prompts a very interesting question, are those lacking in exercise more likely to put pressure on their joints than those exercising on a regular basis?
The chances are those who have minimal exercise in their daily routine will gain weight which in itself will put pressure, constant pressure, or knee joints and other areas of the body. It is therefore fair to suggest that the building and strengthening of joints which occurs due exercise, against the stress from exercise, is significantly less harmful than gaining weight and constantly putting pressure on your joints.
Machines are more effective in building muscle than free weights
It is fair to say there have been significant improvements in technology with regards to exercise machines and the ability to exercise certain parts of the body and muscle groups. This has probably led to a misconception that machines are more effective than free weights when it comes to exercise. If you take a step back and think about it, those using machines to exercise are likely to have limited motion as the machine will focus on one particular set of muscles. Free weights on the other hand bring into play a whole range of different muscles therefore offering a broader spread of exercise across the body. In many ways it is the ability to use your body’s “core” which is key to developing inner strength, muscle tone and muscle bulk.
No pain no gain
The idea of no pain no gain has been promoted by many of Hollywood’s finest movies which are of course “make-believe”. It is fair to say that exercise which does not push your body towards its limits has minimal benefit but once you feel severe pain then the likelihood is that you pushed yourself too far. What you will find over time, as your muscle tone improves, is that you will be able to push yourself further and further. If you’re exercising and begin to feel any degree of pain it is advisable that you stop before you cause yourself an injury. Aside from the fact an injury might interrupt your exercise regime, depending on its severity, there does need to be degree of enjoyment when it comes to exercise. Do not forget that!
It is fair to say that over the years a number of myths have emerged with regards to weightlifting and general exercise. Common misconception such as the idea fat will convert to muscle and muscle will convert to fat in different environments is medically and physically impossible. The suggestion that there is no gain without pain is also wrong because this shows you are pushing your body above and beyond its comfortable limit. As a consequence, you are highly likely to experience an injury which could seriously interrupt your exercise regime.
If you look at many of these myths, sitting back and considering them from a distance can put things in focus. Exercise should be enjoyable, something to look forward to and if it becomes a case of ticking boxes then perhaps you are doing the wrong exercises at the wrong time of day? Many people forget that to get the best out of your exercises and weightlifting you have to be both physically and mentally attuned to the challenge ahead.