Weight lifting and strength workouts all fall under the category of resistance training ... which is simply referring to any form of exercise where you lift, pull, or push against resistance.
This can be done using dumbbells, kettle bells, barbells, machines, bands ... and even your own bodyweight.
The truth is that no matter what your health and wellness goals may be ... you should 100% be doing some form of resistance training.
There's many misconceptions out there when it comes to this style of exercise ... and these can keep you from adding it to your fitness routine.
We're going to bust some myths about lifting weights ... and show you why resistance training is one of the best things you could ever do for your health and wellness.
We understand being a little hesitant to start adding some resistance training to your exercise regimen.
You've probably heard at least one ... if not all these myths when it comes to this style of training.
It's important to know the truth before you consider diving into a resistance training program.
Myth #1 - Lifting Weights Makes You Bulk Up
This is the #1 myth when it comes to resistance training ... and is also one of the biggest myths in all of fitness.
There's only one way you'd gain weight ... and that's overeating your food.
It doesn't have anything to do with resistance training itself. In fact, resistance training is also one of the best ways to help you lose weight.
Yes ... you can lift weights and get bigger, but that's only going to happen if you're eating enough calories.
It's your diet that leads to weight gain ... not your workouts.
Myth #2 - Lifting Heavy Weight Is The Only Way To Build Muscle
Research shows that using lighter weight can be just as effective as using heavy weight. (1)
The biggest factor here is your effort. If you're pushing yourself ... the weight you're using doesn't matter nearly as much as you think.
Myth #3 - Lifting Weights Is Bad For Your Joints
We'll cover this a little more in-depth, but it's actually the complete opposite.
There's been studies showing that by performing weight bearing exercises correctly ... you can greatly reduce joint pain overtime. (2)
Myth #4 - Lifting Weights Reduces Flexibility
Like joint pain, this is also the complete opposite.
When done correctly .... weight training can improve your flexibility as much, if not more than general stretching. (3)
Myth #5 - Weight Training Does Not Improve Cardiovascular Health
If you've ever done a tough strength training workout ... you already know this isn't true.
In fact, any form of exercise opens up blood flow ... which allows more blood to travel through your heart. This alone helps you improve cardiovascular health.
Now that we've cleared up some of the misconceptions when it comes to resistance training ... let's look at some of the benefits.
1. Improves Strength
When you get stronger ... you're helping your body in many different ways. One of the biggest being your ability to perform normal, daily tasks.
This includes things like carrying heavy groceries, moving a big couch in your house ... and even having more strength to play with your kids.
If you're an athlete ... more strength translates to increased power, speed, and overall athletic performance.
Resistance training also strengthens joints, tendons, ligaments ... and even can help prevent unnecessary falls or injuries. This becomes particularly valuable as you age.
2. Helps You Burn More Calories
Resistance training helps you build muscle ... and this translates to you naturally burning more calories throughout the day.
This is because muscle is a more metabolically active tissue than body fat. Having more muscle means you'll burn more calories even when you're sitting at home relaxing. (4)
Like we mentioned earlier ... remember that building muscle doesn't mean getting bigger or "bulky".
For most people ... you'll actually appear leaner because muscle takes up much less space on your frame than body fat.
Research also shows that your metabolism may increase for up to 72 hours after a strength training workout. This means you could be burning more calories days after the workout took place. (5)
3. Improves Hearth Health, Blood Sugar Levels, and Bone Strength
There's multiple studies showing that strength training lowers your blood pressure, bad cholesterol ... and improves your blood circulation. (6, 7, 8, 9)
Resistance training will also lower your risk of diabetes ... and help those with diabetes better manage their condition.
By building muscle ... you improve what's known as insulin sensitivity. This is how your body manages your blood sugar levels. (10)
Resistance training puts temporary stress on your bones as well ... which is a good thing. It sends a signal to your bones that tells them to get stronger. This reduces the risk of falls, fractures, and diseases like Osteoporosis. (12)
4. Improves Mobility
We busted this myth earlier, but resistance training can actually improve your mobility.
When you practice good form and full range of motion when strength training ... you'll notice everything will start to move better in your daily life.
Some research shows that strength training can improve your mobility just as well as standard stretching. (11)
5. Improves Brain Health
This applies even more so to the older population. There's been studies done showing brain health improvements in older individuals who resistance train.
This includes improving memory and learning capabilities.
This is most likely due to lowering inflammation ... and increasing blood flow to the brain, which occurs during strength training. (13)
6. Improves Mood, Self-Esteem, and Confidence
Of course ... most of us know that when we're in better shape, we tend to be much more confident.
Resistance training helps improve your physical appearance ... which almost always leads to a boost in your confidence levels.
Resistance training may also reduce anxiety, improve symptoms of depression ... and boost your overall mood. (14)
Think about the feeling you get after a good workout. You're almost always in a better mood and feel accomplished.
The Bottom Line
Every negative you hear about resistance training is a myth ... with the large majority being almost completely opposite of the truth.
Getting bulky, hurting yourself, reducing flexibility ... and all the other common misconceptions about this style of training are 100% false.
There's a very large amount of research that has proven these to be false over the years ... and that research only continues to grow.
Regardless of your specific fitness goals .... strength training is one of the best ways to improve your health and quality of life.
We know that lifting weights can be very intimidating if it's something you're not familiar with.
All of us were new to strength training at one point ... and we understand that feeling.
No matter what your fitness level may be, our N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainers are more than happy to help you put together a resistance training plan ... which is a service we offer 100% FREE of charge.
Stop into your nearest Supplement Superstores location ... and we'll be happy to put together a program that works for you.
*This post was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
1. C. J. Mitchell, T. A. Churchward-Venne, D. D. W. West, N. A. Burd, L. Breen, S. K. Baker, S. M. Phillips. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012
2. Baker KR, Nelson ME, Felson DT, Layne JE, Sarno R, Roubenoff R. The efficacy of home based progressive strength training in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial. J Rheumatol. 2001 Jul;28(7):1655-65. PMID: 11469475.
3. Morton SK, Whitehead JR, Brinkert RH, Caine DJ. Resistance training vs. static stretching: effects on flexibility and strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Dec;25(12):3391-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31821624aa. PMID: 21969080.
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8. de Sousa EC, Abrahin O, Ferreira ALL, Rodrigues RP, Alves EAC, Vieira RP. Resistance training alone reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure in prehypertensive and hypertensive individuals: meta-analysis. Hypertens Res. 2017 Nov;40(11):927-931. doi: 10.1038/hr.2017.69. Epub 2017 Aug 3. PMID: 28769100.
9. Costa RR, Buttelli ACK, Vieira AF, Coconcelli L, Magalhães RL, Delevatti RS, Kruel LFM. Effect of Strength Training on Lipid and Inflammatory Outcomes: Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression. J Phys Act Health. 2019 Jun 1;16(6):477-491. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2018-0317. Epub 2019 Apr 25. PMID: 31023184.
10. Park BS, Khamoui AV, Brown LE, Kim DY, Han KA, Min KW, An GH. Effects of Elastic Band Resistance Training on Glucose Control, Body Composition, and Physical Function in Women With Short- vs. Long-Duration Type-2 Diabetes. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Jun;30(6):1688-99. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001256. PMID: 26562712.
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12. Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Dec;33(4):435-444. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435. PMID: 30513557; PMCID: PMC6279907.
13. Li Z, Peng X, Xiang W, Han J, Li K. The effect of resistance training on cognitive function in the older adults: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2018 Nov;30(11):1259-1273. doi: 10.1007/s40520-018-0998-6. Epub 2018 Jul 13. PMID: 30006762.
14. Gordon BR, McDowell CP, Lyons M, Herring MP. The Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Sports Med. 2017 Dec;47(12):2521-2532. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0769-0. PMID: 28819746.