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Power Up Your Knowledge: Dispelling 4 Common Strength Training Myths

April 29, 2024

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Did you know people 40 and older may lose up to 8% of their muscle mass per decade? Losing muscular strength and power as you age, a process known as sarcopenia, is inevitable. And while you can’t “stop the clock,” strength training, also called weight or resistance training, can help keep your bones and muscles healthy.

Weightlifting with machines or free weights isn’t just for the young, fit or athletic. In almost all cases we recommend that adults should exercise their major muscle groups at least twice a week. Exercising your chest, arms, back, abs and legs can help increase your metabolism, lose or maintain weight and tone your muscles. Keep reading to uncover the truth behind the most common myths about weightlifting and other forms of strength training.

Myth 1: Strength training is only for the young and athletic.

Reality: Strength training benefits people of all ages and fitness levels. Weight or resistance training makes your large muscles work harder than usual, resulting in stronger muscles. And stronger muscles help you do everyday activities like carrying grocery bags, bending or climbing stairs more easily and quickly. If you are able to do so, try lifting weights or doing weight-bearing exercises like squats and push-ups at least two twice a week to help you build muscle, which naturally declines with age. It's never too late to start reaping the rewards of strength training.  If you are unsure about your ability to exercise safely, consult your physician or advanced practice provider.

Myth 2: Weight training is dangerous and bad for the joints.

Reality: Strength training doesn't always mean heavy weightlifting or training for a body-building competition. Some types use medicine balls, resistance bands or your own body weight to achieve similar results. Think of activities like lunges, pull-ups, some types of yoga, and crunches and squats. Strength training can be safe and effective if you use proper form and use a weight that is appropriate for your fitness level. In fact, it can help with coordination, flexibility and better bone health. Squats and lunges; for instance, stimulate bone growth and help prevent osteoporosis.

Myth 3: Cardio exercise is enough to stay in shape and healthy.

Reality: There's no denying that walking, cycling and other types of cardiovascular exercises are good for your health, especially your heart health. However, when combined with strength training activities, the benefits are even greater. Weight or resistance training can help you get stronger, allowing you to lift and carry things with ease and confidence. Improved muscular strength can help you live and function more independently over time.

Myth 4: Muscle turns into fat if you stop exercising.

Reality: Muscle and fat are two different types of tissues, meaning one cannot directly turn into the other. Yet, if you stop exercising and eat the same amount of calories, you may lose muscle mass and gain fat. This can give the impression that muscle has turned into fat. This is more about changes in your body rather than a direct transformation of one tissue into another.

The takeaway.

Strength training helps burn calories, preserve muscle mass and lose weight. It can also improve mood and help you sleep better. If you're new to strength training, it's a good idea to start with a beginner's program and work with a qualified personal trainer to learn proper form. With a little effort, you can reap the many benefits of strength training and improve your overall health and fitness. Make an appointment with your Dignity Health primary care provider before you begin a new workout routine, especially if you have underlying health issues.


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