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Debunking 3 Myths of Strength Training

Myth 1:  Building muscles will make me gain weight or appear “bulky”.

False.  In fact, building muscle will actually help control your weight because as you gain muscle, your body gains a bigger “engine” to burn calories more efficiently – which can result in weight loss.  And while strength training can result in muscle enlargement, with regular weight-bearing activity, you will notice changes resulting in a lean, toned appearance.

Myth 2:  You have to have big, expensive equipment to strength train.

False.  You can use equipment to strength train however, body weight is a highly effective method as well – especially if you’re just starting out!  You can use your own body weight to do many exercises.  Try push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.  Check out this video for a few tips.  Still looking for ideas?  Try these:

    • Resistance tubing.  Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched.  You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store.
    • Free weights.  Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
    • Weight machines.  Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines.  You can also invest in weight machines for use at home.

Myth 3:  Strength training is too complex.  I’ll need a personal trainer to get started.

False.  Strength training occurs every time your muscles experience resistance.  For example, carrying your groceries, or your children are strength training exercises!  If you’re looking for something a little more challenging than groceries, here are a few suggestions:

    • Practice a three-step progression:  First, learn to do an exercise using only your body weight.  Second, stick to one set with light weights for two weeks or until you feel comfortable with the exercise.  And finally, when you can complete nearly all of your reps with proper form, add another set or more weight (increase weight by roughly 10% each time).
    • Form is important:  Remember “SEAK”

S – Stand straight (head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over feet)

E – Eyes on the horizon (looking down encourages your shoulders to round and your chest to lean forward)

A – Abs tight (as if you’re about to be punched in the gut, but without holding your breath – this helps stabilize your pelvis)

K – Knees over your second toe (women’s knees have a tendency to turn in because of the angle created by wider hips)

    • Think total body:  For every exercise that works the front of the body (chest, biceps, quads), be sure to do an exercise that targets the rear (back, triceps, hamstrings).

 Woman in her Forties Exercising with Handweights

Why devote an entire blog post to strength training?  Because in addition to a more trim physique, strength training has several other health benefits including:

  • Develop strong bones.  By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reduce your risk of injury.  Building muscle helps protect your joints and contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Boosts your stamina.  As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily.
  • Manage chronic conditions.  Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
  • Sharpen your focus.  Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.

Click here to learn more about strength training.  And remember to consult your health care provider before you begin ANY exercise.

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