When it comes to weight training, there are a lot of misconceptions. With so much information at our disposal, its no wonder everyone has conflicting answers.

If you are new to the weightlifting world, it can be a little confusing and maybe even a bit intimidating. No one wants to look like an idiot. So, to help give you some peace of mind before heading to the weight room, lets debunk some of the most common weight training myths so you can start training smarter and performing better.

Myth #1: Weights will make you bulky.

When people used to say to Arnold Schwarzenegger, “We never want to look like you”, he would reply, “Don’t worry, you never will”.

Alright, lets get one thing straight, if you think you are going to touch a dumbbell and suddenly turn into Arnold, you’re kidding yourself. It takes years of training combined with strict nutrition, genetics, and sometimes a little pharmaceutical assistance to get the physique of a body builder. That shit is hard to get and requires a specific lifestyle, mindset, and training schedule. You don’t stumble upon a bodybuilder’s body by chance, this stuff takes time.

That’s like saying you don’t want to read a book because you’re afraid you’ll turn into Einstein.

Myth #2: Muscle will turn to fat if I stop lifting weights.

Muscle is muscle. Fat is fat. They don’t transform into each other. Some people have more lean muscle in their body than fat, and vice versa.

Weight training effectively raises your metabolic rate, which causes an increased daily caloric expenditure. More muscle means more energy. The raised energy levels your body experiences through an effective weight training program contribute to sustained fat loss. Meaning, you are building muscle with weights while giving your body the strength and energy it needs to keep fat off for the long run. No crash and burn fad diets here.

Myth #3: Weights cause injuries.

Weights don’t cause injuries, poor positioning does. That’s why it is essential to train your body to perform these demanding movements at an optimal level with form and execution being your number one priority. I always recommend everyone seeing a professional to help show you with correct positioning with the fundamental weight training exercises. Deadlifts, presses, squats, and other resistance movements are demanding on the body, and when done incorrectly, can cause injury.

Myth #4: Weights are bad for your joints.

False. Weights are actually a great way to strengthen your body’s skeletal system and ligaments. You are putting your body through controlled stress, that’s what a great weight training program does. While keeping emphasis on your form and execution in a safe, challenging environment, weight training will do nothing but great things for your bones and joints. Way better than drinking a gallon of milk every day. Chocolate milk is good too, though.

Myth #5: It’s best to work one muscle group at a time.

Its not best to do anything. That’s the thing, there is no ‘best’ when it comes to weight training. I would suggest, however, there is a time and place for everything. If you do too much of the same thing over and over again, your body will get used to the routine and get bored. Your muscles need stress put on them to break down and grow back stronger. You have to force yourself to work in new ways and challenge your body to step out of its comfort zone.

Look at your workouts over the span of a month. Lets say you lift weights three times per week (chest, legs, back). That’s four chest workouts per month you are doing. So, about four hours of exercise per muscle group every month. That isn’t a lot of time when you think about it. If you are looking to get the best results, explore your options and play around with your training schedule. When training to build muscle, its best to specifically work on a muscle group at least twice a week. This allows for an optimal amount of frequency and recovery time to get it break down and grow back stronger.

Myth #6: Machines are better than free weights.

Again, there is no better.

Machines are great tools for dialing into specific muscle groups. Since there is assistance in the movement, your body doesn’t have to use a lot of different muscle groups to perform the movement. This assistance allows you to focus on one specific muscle at a time. This can be greatly effective for bodybuilders whose primary goal is muscle development and symmetry.

Since most machines put you in a predetermined path, you don’t have to work as hard to do it. Free weights, on the other hand, don’t give you any assistance at all. Lifting free weights will activate more muscle fibers in your body and get you stronger. If I were to make one solid recommendation for anyone looking to get stronger and add muscle, think of your workout as a meal:

Appetizer = Warm Up
Main Course = Free Weights
Dessert = Machine Isolation Work
Tea = Cool Down

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