Will lifting weights make you bulky? Is cardio a better workout? Get the low down on some popular myths about strength training.
Do you stick to cardio machines when you hit the gym? Free weights can seem intimidating, especially given all the myths that surround strength training—it makes women bulky, cardio burns more fat … the list goes on. Here are some of the most popular misconceptions.
Myth: Lifting weights makes women bulky
Fact: No, lifting weights won’t turn you into a bulky bodybuilder. For starters, women lack the testosterone levels that predispose men to bigger muscles. Your natural body shape—athletic, curvy, or slim—also restricts how big your muscles will develop.
Strength training can, however, help you build a lean, well-defined physique. If you’re just getting started, 3- or 5-pound dumbbells are probably your best bet. As you grow stronger, you may want to try heavier options.
Myth: Cardio is a better workout
Fact: It’s true that aerobic exercises such as running and cycling burn more calories than lifting weights. But pumping iron can have a longer-lasting impact on your metabolism, as muscle burns more calories than fat.
Beyond helping with weight management, strength training can also:
- improve stamina and balance
- strengthen bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- help ease the discomfort of conditions such as back pain, arthritis, and diabetes
- promote clear thinking, especially for older adults
Myth: I’ll get injured if I lift heavy weights
Fact: This is mostly false. Although lazy form and carelessness can result in sprains, weight lifting is pretty safe. Just remember to work within your body’s limits—you won’t be lifting 20-pound dumbbells right away—and follow basic safety precautions.
When you’re lifting weights, go slow and practise perfect posture by keeping your shoulders back and down. You should also tighten your core (also known as your deep abdominal muscles) to protect your spine.
If you’re not sure where to start, why not enlist the help of a personal trainer? They can show you the ropes and have you lifting weights like a pro in no time.
Myth: Lifting weights is boring
Fact: Sure, lifting weights can be boring—if you stick to basic bicep curls. Add fun and variety to your strength-training routine by incorporating full-body exercises such as squats and planks.
Plus, there’s no need to spend hours at the gym. A couple of 20-to-30-minute strength-training sessions per week will do the trick. Get started with this simple weight-lifting workout that takes only 10 minutes.