4 Muscle Building Myths

Weight training is a tricky subject, especially for women who hear a lot of conflicting information about the best way to train and what will happen to their bodies when they do. That’s too bad, because the more lean muscle mass you have, the more efficiently you burn calories all day long. These four myths are simply not true – so forget about them and lift away.

Myth: Lifting weights will make your muscles too big.
Fact: You would have to eat a lot of extra calories while working very hard to “bulk up.” With a normal, healthy diet, your muscles will only become stronger, and you’ll also burn fat, giving you a lean look, not a bulky one.

Myth: If you stop lifting, your muscle will turn to fat.
Fact: This is simply impossible. You might lose muscle and gain fat if you stop working out and return to overeating, but muscle can’t turn to fat, nor fat to muscle. If you do have to take some time off because of an injury, for example, having all that lean muscle will help you burn more calories during your down time.

Myth: Machines work better than free weights.
Fact: You use more muscles when you use free weights; machines isolate muscles and limit your range of motion. Furthermore, when performed correctly, body weight exercises such as lunges, squats, and push-ups are just as effective as exercises performed using equipment. So if fear of the gym (or of those intimidating weight machines) is holding you back, don’t worry. You can skip the machines altogether and get an even better workout.

Myth: You can “sculpt” and “shape” your muscles.
Fact: The shape of your muscles when strong is mostly down to genetics. Focus on working out all of your major muscle groups and allowing a day of rest between workout days, because during rest is when your muscles grow. As your muscles get stronger and your diet and cardio help with fat burning, you’ll start to see your natural lean muscle tone show.

Because muscle is more compact than fat and, in fact, helps you burn fat at a constant rate, weight training is arguably the most important thing you can do at the gym. It doesn’t even appear to matter whether you do fewer reps with heavier weights or more reps with lighter weights; the point is to work the muscle to fatigue. You’ll find that “to fatigue” gradually requires heavier weights as you gain strength.

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