During my years training clients and athletes, I find that the same questions come up, so I’ve put together a few of the more common ones and what I think about each of them.
Weight training makes you bulky
I’ve been asked this question many times, especially from females who may have been misinformed in the past and put off from strength training entirely. There’s a misconception out there that lifting weights, resistance training or even drinking one protein shake will add huge amounts of muscle in a short amount of time. If only it was that easy. To build muscle takes a lot of consideration and discipline, it doesn’t just happen. There are three main factors that influence muscle gain, which are, metabolic stress, muscle damage and mechanical tension (Schoenfeld, 2015). In this research article the author addresses training intensity needed, rest intervals and volume amongst much more. Then we need to consider genetics, have you ever wondered why some people just look a certain way without much effort? We all have our differences, but if we don’t have an athletic make up, then for us gaining muscle might be harder than for someone that does. Also, females don’t typically have a hormonal profile that supports muscle growth as much as males. Unless you chemically alter this, but that’s another topic entirely.
Realistically, a dedicated adult trainer who lifts frequently, focussing specifically on muscle gain would do very well to gain 7lbs of muscle per year. That’s assuming you’re hitting all of the nutritional requirements; your sleep is great, and you have no injuries. Not so straightforward is it?
There are a lot of benefits to lifting weights such as increases in strength, bone density, power, speed and lean mass (muscle).
As I’ve written above, the chances are you’re not going to put on lots of weight straight away so relax, train well, recover and enjoy the process.
I’d highly recommend reading the article and if you would like to get the link send me a message.
Kids shouldn’t lift weights!
“If children lift weights, it will stunt their growth”. I’ve heard this quite a few times over the years and here’s a more detailed version of my reply.
Years ago, a scientific study looked at the effect physical labour had on the maturation and development of children. It was concluded that that more work equals stunted growth, without taking into consideration, nutrition, lifestyle and many more factors.
Fast forward a few years and now we correlate weight training to stunted growth and lifting weights damages growth plates etc. More recently, there’s lots of evidence to suggest strength training can in fact be hugely beneficial for younger populations, when done safely. As with most things, the first rule of training applies.
Do. No. Harm.
This I learnt from my university tutor Colin Robertson, it is engrained in my programs and will forever be fundamental in all my work. This means we program even more cautiously and allow biology to do its job. Just because I recommend strength training for a young population it doesn’t mean 10-year-olds are deadlifting with a huge weight on the bar. It can mean starting with bodyweight exercises like lunges, press ups, pull ups and then gradually progressing, whilst avoiding working close to maximum intensity. The benefit to starting young is you increase their movement literacy which can have so many benefits as we develop into adults. The thing is, children are strength training all the time, my 3-year-old daughter pushes tables, picks up my guitar and jumps from the couch to the floor. We just have to be smarter with them, keeping it fun and engaging. It can also provide a nice change to routine if they’re not used to it. Give it a try!
If you’d like to know more or ask a question about training with younger population then click here
I need to work hard every session
I’ve heard this so many times, it’s just not true. There’s a misconception that to be fit, lean, healthy or strong we must work to the point of exhaustion every session, sweat equals good! There’s a physical limit to what the human body can withstand before breaking. This is why it’s important to periodise your programs and use a wide lensed approach. When approaching training, often the logical and well thought out plan works best. When you get carried away or spike your training volume, this can create problems, with injury never too far away. I do know some very good physiotherapists though, if you need one, I’m happy to pass their details along.
When training clients I’ll typically use something called the RPE scale. This is a modified tool used to establish training intensity levels, simple and quick enough to gather information immediately useable. If we have a really tough session, we may rate that at 8 or 9 out of 10. The session was one of those that left us in a pool of sweat, hurting but also satisfied with overcoming a physical challenge, which is great. The trouble is, we only have a few of these sessions in us before eventually something breaks because we’ve not allowed enough time for adaptation to occur. As a general guide, I’d only program a session like this in once or twice a week. The other days would be still important, but more moderate in intensity. If it looks like the program is going well, we can then look to change things or even add another high intensity session. Just bear this principle in mind. The harder the output, the more recovery needed. Put the ego away and train smart.
If you’d like to get some more specific advice on programming send me a message.
I can lose fat from one area
Honestly, I would love it if I could target one area of my body to lose fat from. But I can’t. Neither can you. Regardless of what some influencers may say (insert product they’re selling), we can’t do much about where we lose body fat from. The truth is rarely attractive or appealing to a population that is conditioned for instant gratification. Reducing body fat to reveal a six pack takes time, depending on where your starting point is. For men you’d start seeing that definition in the stomach at around 15% bodyfat and women around 20%. I’ll be doing another post going into greater detail soon, but for now you can takeaway these key points.
- Write down a goal, be specific and realistic
- Start slow and aim to lose 1-2lbs of fat per week
- Track progress with measurements and pictures if you like
- Focus on the health benefits rather than how you look
Aesthetics aren’t everything. For me, being happy, healthy and living with purpose is a focus for my clients. If you want a shredded body and you don’t care how you get it, then I’m not for you.
As with all of these misconceptions, context needs to be applied. There are bad coaches out there that program poorly and children will get injured, there’s a few studies highlighting belly fat reduction and the benefits to exhausting yourself is appealing to some. I find so many times that the truth lies between extremes, not always but often. That’s how I program, train, and live my life.
- Adding muscle is complex and multi factorial, it won’t just happen by luck or overnight. Track progress with measurements and pictures.
- Kids can lift weights, safely without impairing their development. Use logic, start with bodyweight exercises and seek out a qualified and experienced coach.
- Working out until you nearly faint isn’t the only way to do things. Be smart with programming, sleep, nutrition and daily stresses all impact our recovery and it’s important to allow enough time between sessions for recovery.
- Crunches won’t do much for stomach fat. Unfortunately, where we lose our cuddly bits from is largely genetic. Don’t stress it and embrace the body you have. Training the mind is something we should put more effort into.
Thanks for taking time to read this article and I hope you have taken a few things away with you. As always, I’d love to hear what you think and answer any questions you might have.