5 Strength Training Myths and Truths.
Every person has their own take on what looking their healthiest and fittest might be. Ask one person and its being ripped, toned and with six packs flexing, while another person just wants to walk down the beach in a bikini and feel confident about it. All of us have our goals about how we want to look and feel about our bodies. And while your particular goals may look different to someone else, one thing most people seem to agree on is wanting to feel and look toned and fit.
Ok, so when we talk about being “toned” what does it mean? And is “bulking” up different from being toned? In this article, I will explore this along with quashing some of those myths that have set in over time regarding strengthening and bulking up.
First things first, What exactly is Toning?
The primary thing that comes to mind when someone says they want to “tone up,” is that they want to get leaner. So essentially they are looking to lose fat, plus get a bit of muscle definition—although not so much muscle mass that they start looking like a bodybuilder (some more on that later).
In the world of fitness, there really isn’t a whole lot of definition about toning. In fact, toning is seen as more of a end goal, which comes from fat-burning and basic weight-lifting.
Ok, So What about Bulking Up?
Men tend to want to “bulk up” while women try to avoid this as they typically don’t want to build big and bulky muscles. There really isn’t a strict definition regarding “bulking up” but essentially it means adding a large amount of muscle mass to the body and along with (but not always) also reducing body fat. When we think of bulking up it conjures images of beefy bodybuilders, and big football players—these are more often than not males.
When it comes to toning, images of aerobics instructors, Victoria Secret Models, and Hollywood starlets come to mind. These individuals tend to have visible muscle (but not huge) and lower amount of body fat.
So now we have the definitions cleared up, lets explore the myths that surround toning up and bulking up.
The 3 Most Common Myths about Toning and Bulking Up
Myth #1: If You Lift Light Weights It Will Tone Your Body While Lifting Heavy Weights Will Bulk You Up.
The Truth: No one can say who started the idea that lifting heavy weights will bulk you up, but somehow it caught fire, ensuring that both men and women alike would be afraid of lifting heavy weights. Now, while there are elements of truth to the notion that lifting lighter weights for more reps does improve muscular endurance, when it comes to toning up, lighter weights do not do it better than heavier weights. The fact is, because heavier weights build muscle strength (and to a smaller degree the size), it increases your metabolism and burns fat. So here’s even better news, if you lift heavier weights with fewer reps (8 to 12 on average) and keep at it until you’re fatigued this will actually be far more effective in helping with those toning goals than if you’d done more with lighter weights. And you’ll have that extra time to do other wonderful things with!
Myth #2: Bulking up and Building muscle are essentially the same thing.
The Truth: If you been dodging those weights because you believe weight lifting equals building muscle then you’ve been duped my friend. What happens when you lift weights is that you create tiny tears in the muscle fibers. When these tears get repaired by the body (this is why you’ll feel mighty sore after a workout!) the muscles go on to become stronger and a little bit bigger. But here’s the thing, since muscle tissue is more dense than fat, adding some muscle to your body and lowering your fat will typically make you look leaner— and not bulkier. If you wanted to truly bulk up, like many body builders will tell you, you’d have to spend hours on the gym lifting along with a restricted diet that creates muscle gain. Just having an average diet plus some weight lifting just won’t cut it for bulk building and the results will not be the same.
Myth #3: Light weights don’t do a thing to make you stronger.
The Truth: In actuality its not about the amount of weights you lift, it’s really about working the muscles until they are so fatigued you can’t do another rep. In a study from McMaster University in August 2010, it was proven that even when the subjects lifted lighter weights, they still added as much muscle as those lifting heavy weights. But then they would have to do far more reps with the lighter weights to get the same results. So if you value your time – like many people – then it just good sense to lift those heavy weight and leave early!
Myth #4: Women and men should lift weights differently.
The Truth: This is seen quite regularly at the gym. Women will commonly do some bicep curls with a 3- to 5-pound dumbbells, while men will go for the 20-pounders and do the same exercise. While men genetically are stronger than women, it isn’t by a massive amount. Another thing that is seen in many gyms up and down the country, are women tending to go with basic leg-work or weight machines which target the rear end and abs; a catchy terminology I came across regarding this kind of workout is they are working their “vanity” muscles”. Guys are more likely to go for free weights or barbells, while honing in on their “vanity muscles”: the biceps and chest.
Clearly differences in gender exist, and everyone is going to have personal goals (as stated at the beginning). But there is no getting away from it, to lose weight and get lean— whether you want to call that bulking or toning — both genders need to have strength-training so every major muscle in the body is worked at least 8 to 12 times, and training with heavy weight is a great way to do that. It’s only by pushing the body that our limits are tested from there we grow and adapt, and of course, get leaner and stronger. That goes for both males and females. To lift this way is also a great way to lose weight.
Myth #5: Certain forms of exercise build long, lean muscles.
The Truth: Along with the myth that lifting makes you bulkier, there are also theories that certain exercise will “lengthen muscle” of help create “lean” muscles instead of bulky ones. But here’s the facts that may surprise some people out there: no forms of exercise exists to make muscles “longer” since muscles do not respond to exercise that way. Muscles are a certain length because that’s how they are attached to your bones. What a wide variety of movements and exercises can do is help strengthen muscles without actually making them bigger. It is true that you can develop a great deal of muscular strength without your muscles even increasing in size.
That being said, exercises such as Pilates and Yoga, and dance do is help with flexibility and posture which can make a person appear as if they are longer and taller. But making muscles longer? Nope – it can’t be done. Usually these claims are targeted at people who are afraid to bulk up.
Hopefully that should clear things up regarding toning vs bulking up. Read on for plenty of other articles to help in your health and weight loss goals.
The Best Of Health And Fitness To You!
Further reading: Maxi Climber Reviews 2017 – Improve Your Fitness Easily And Fast