Strength training is the center piece to an exercise program. Without it… your program is like Thanksgiving dinner excluding turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing! We as a society have done a wonderful job implementing strength training into our routines. Hell, I see women in their 90’s strength training now! Rock on! Seriously… I’ll probably start smoking cigarettes and eating Chinese food everyday by the time I’m that age. Jokes… but not really.
Strength training comes with its share of myths that don’t seem to quit among our educated population. To the point where it is damaging. Misinformation is the worst kind of information, but oddly it is still information. So we still have a society that has amazing intentions, but some dingus gave them horribly conservative dogmatic crap that keeps them consistently falling short of their goals and getting injured and STAYING that way! So among these myths… we’ll start with the two most common. And within the coming weeks I will peel back these one by one and curse them into the ground where they belong!
Myth #1 Weight Training May Cause Or Prolong Injuries.
God help us. Please let this one stop. The idea that weight bearing exercise is detrimental to one’s injured state is the reason why people STAY injured. It has been shown time and time again that injury management needs a strength training component EARLY in the rehab process.
It makes sense to the lay person… something hurts… so stop using it? Makes perfect sense right? IF we do not use it… the pain will go away eventually!
Short Term Relief Remedies Usually Suck Long Term
The truth: Yes, perhaps your pain MAY subside SOONER in a short term setting. Because our bodies look to seek the path of least resistance. Because painful episodes produce stress…stress response oftentimes results in painful episodes. The other truth though… the more “painful truth” pun intended… is that by never correcting and loading the areas of the body that injured us beforehand (within reason) we will never truly overcome the injury. Our body signals the threat EASIER for the NEXT TIME that this movement happens. So instead of throwing your back out when you lifted that 60 pound box…it may happen at the 40 pound box. Then walking overtime becomes a labor intensive task… because you never progressively challenged the stressful event that happened right before injury!
You are certainly not hitting a squat personal record if you can barely get yourself out of bed. But progressive overload with weight bearing movement is an amazing long term tool to get out pain and stay that way!
Find The Right Help!
Another issue we find is that many people’s first step is get an appointment with a doctor that ISN’T a sports medicine doc. And it very well maybe there PCP. And although PCP’s are an amazing resource for a lot of things, they are NOT EXPERTS in orthopedic rehab. So they will naturally say something conservative like “Don’t Use It!” in order to make sure no further short term pain is being done. If you were not sure about something, but your job depends on providing direct action, wouldn’t you do the same thing? I don’t blame them for giving that recommendation! The PCP maybe required to get a referral for a physical therapy/chiropractor appointment. But if you are in pain and the doctor tells you to not use it.. CHANCES ARE this is horribly conservative advice. And this will prolong your injuries long term if you listen and do not take further action.
I Lift So I Don’t Get Hurt!
This one is a big one and required a large portion. Because well executed strength training PREVENTS INJURIES! Why do athletes bounce back from injures faster than average Joes? Other than some of them having the pharmceutical edge… they’re just better trained. Their bodies are trained to withstand external force BETTER than yours. Yes, the age is a factor too. But why does a 28 year old average Joe/Jane stay injured longer than a world class sprinter in the Olympics? Why doesn’t a strong man competitor throw their back out every time they pull the 18 wheeler truck? Why is the 60 year old gym rat still able to deadlift 300 lbs while your parents can’t pull 135 without having crippling back pain right after? It goes much further than the person having “stronger muscles.” Stronger muscles are more resilient muscles. Stronger muscles mean stronger tendons, ligaments, and a better waste removal method (from their muscles… but most likely they are able to use the rest room better than their sedentary counterpart as well!).
So in short. No, we strength train to PREVENT injury. Weights didn’t hurt you, you’re bad form injured you. Recognize the difference?
Myth #2 The Big 3 Lifts, Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Press Will Make You Bulk
This idea that lifting with the big 3 will make you bulk is false. That can go with flat earth in the vault of bullshit spouted as a means to get naive consumers to buy workout programs from charlatans. Let it be known that bulking is a product of how much fat mass someone has vs. their lean mass. And it is largely a product of someone’s nutrition. If you take in more calories (roughly more than 200 calories over maintenance) you will start to “bulk” regardess of your workout routine. The Big 3 train your body to be strong in those lifts and other accessory movements as well (duh). There is no magical training program that causes you to be wider.
When you see male & female powerlifters/strong man/woman who are wider in stature it is because they eat to fuel those workouts. And a law of nature in sports is we have a tendency to gravitate to activities that we are good at!
But Why Do People Who Train With These Lifts Tend To Be Bigger?
There are multiple reasons for why we “BULK” when exposed to the big 3… all of which have nothing to do with the lift itself. It has almost everything to do with your diet. If you train in a calorie surplus (take in more calories than you burn off) you will put on some body fat most likely. And often these lifts are associated with bulking… since when do we have to lift heavy weights ONLY when we are in a muscle building phase? The training does not matter too much. Yes, body building and power lifting are two different styles of training and tend to produce different body types. But the diets associated with these two styles are what TRULY separate them outside of just HOW they train.
Many people take advice from some “chemically enhanced” figures in the industry. And when you see someone with an exceptional amount of muscle mass it is natural for you to say that if you train under their recommendations you’ll look like them. But we are missing the fact that so many of these female and male figure heads in the industry take anabolic steroids and other drugs in order to look the way they do. So it is unrealistic on a cellular level for us to look like that. Unless of course you delve into the chemical under world. Which I cannot help you with.
This point can have a book written on it. But anyone who tries to have you avoid the big lifts because they bulk you is lying to you… sorry!
So let’s leave it at that for now. Seriously though. Stop looking for reasons to avoid pushing yourself. It’ll do your body well!