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Dispelling myths about weight training

Feb. 7, 2011 at 1 a.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.


MELISSA BAGNALL: FITNESS FOR TODAY

This week, I would like to address some common weight training myths that I hear quite often.

This collection of misinformation is a stumbling block to many and an excuse for others to not add weight training into their exercise routine.

"Lifting weights will make you look like a body builder." To build large bulky muscles you must lift in a very specific manner AND you must have the genetic predisposition to build large muscles (we call this body type a mesomorph.) Lifting weights can give you strength without bulk and raise your base metabolism to help you maintain a healthy weight.

"If you lift weights and then quit, all the muscle will turn to fat." Muscle and fat have different components. One cannot "turn into" the other. What will happen is that the fat cells will shrink and the muscle fibers will increase in size causing one to be showcased over the other. Or in the case of no exercise, fat cells grow larger and muscle fibers shrink causing an unfavorable appearance.

"Lifting weights takes up several hours a day." Lifting weights can be accomplished in as little as 20 minutes three times a week. The trick is to do compound exercises to maximize the efficiency of your workout. Compound exercises involve doing multiple exercises at the same time. An example would be a squat paired with a bicep curl and a shoulder press. If you are unsure how to combine exercises for maximum effectiveness, talk to a trainer for some new ideas.

"Crunches will give you a flat stomach." This is one of my favorites and comes mostly from my female clients. Crunches will help you develop a strong core if done correctly. (I have to say that 90 percent of what I see in the gym is not done correctly!) However, no amount of crunches will do away with the layer of fat in the abdominal area. The only way to deal with fat in this area is cardio and watching what you eat. There is a saying among serious weight lifters: "A six pack starts in the kitchen, not the gym!"

"Weight training takes special abilities." Anytime you learn a new skill there is a period of feeling awkward and uncoordinated. Lifting weights is a skill set that can be learned by anyone. A good trainer can make adjustments for any special needs you might have and teach you proper form.

Don't let these myths stand in your way to a healthier body. Weight training is one of the most effective tools you can use to get into shape and maintain your fitness. If you need help formulating an effective weight training routine check with a personal trainer. They can design a safe routine that delivers the results you are looking for.

Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

Melissa Bagnall is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in physical education. You can email questions to: fitnesolutions@gmail.com.

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