Fact Or Fiction? Seven Weight-Training Myths

A funny thing happened to me in my mid-twenties.  I woke up one morning and realized that my “sexy curves” were really fat rolls.  Don’t get me wrong, curves on a woman are sexy, but there comes a time when you have to acknowledge the difference between having a busty chest and growing an extra muffin top as back fat.  

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Turns out they’re not the same when determining “sexy.” After having my first child, I woke up one morning and realized the “baby fat” excuse was no longer acceptable – especially since my “baby” was turning two years old. 

I decided it was time to change.  I went to the gym and promptly got on the treadmill for a full hour going a heart-pumping three miles-per-hour on zero incline.  No results after a month.  Shocker.  I watched all these fit women strut by me and I looked at them like they were crazy when they headed towards the weights.  Didn’t they know? Weights are for guys.  They make you bulky.  Finally after months of no results, I decided that maybe those girls knew something I didn’t.  Turns out they were right and I was wrong.

Here’s what I thought about weights and the reality of what they do.

MYTH 1:  Working with weights will make me bulky. (Everyone thinks this at one point.)

It’s just not true.  Working with weights helps shed fat and helps create more lean lines throughout your body.  As women we don’t necessarily have the hormones to build the bulk that men do.  So unless you consciously work very hard for a very long time, it’s highly unlikely you will become a professional body builder by accident.  Unless your HIIT instructor is starting each class with a needle injection into your arm, then maybe the bulk thing will happen.  (But if that’s going on, you’re in the wrong gym/ studio.)

MYTH 2: I can’t lift weights until after I lose the fat. Otherwise it’ll be harder to lose the fat.
I really believed this for a long time.  I always thought that I had to lose the five/ten/twenty pounds before I could start lifting weights -- otherwise the fat would stay permanently on my body over the muscles.  What I know now is that working with heavy weights burns a ton of calories and helps shed fat faster than just cardio alone. 

Get off the treadmill.  I’ll repeat that: get off the treadmill and pick up a set of dumbbells.  Here’s a random tip: When you’re feeling “fat” (admit it, we all do sometimes), work the big muscle groups in your legs.  For some reason I believe it just starts the fat loss.  (I have no science to prove this, but I’m going to just ask you to believe me.)

MYTH 3: I should work one muscle group a day.
Sure, there are plenty of people that do this, but I’ve learned to create an overall healthy body, a full-body workout is best.  That’s why group weight training classes have become so popular.  In an hour, you manage to work all your muscle groups in a way that complements your cardio workouts.

MYTH 4: I shouldn’t try a group fitness class until I “know what I’m doing.”
I stood staring into those group fitness rooms for weeks before I had the nerve to walk in.  I thought that I would be the overweight girl in the corner that didn’t know how to do a proper squat and would be embarrassed.  I can’t stress it enough: Walk in, tell the instructor you’re just getting started and let the teacher teach you.  The one thing about group fitness instructors is that they are passionate about what they do.  They know that people HATE working out and they desperately want you to have results so that you can love it like they do.  They never judge, because if you fail, then they do too. 

I repeat: introduce yourself, set up in the corner, and smile.  You’ll be shocked by how many people in the class are in the same boat as you. 

MYTH 5: Lifting weights are dangerous and could hurt my joints.
“I have bad knees.” Ah, that was my favorite excuse.  Growing up as a soccer player, I had all kinds of knee injuries.  Guess what?  Once I properly learned how to squat and to work with leg press machines, most of my “injuries” disappeared.  Not using your muscle groups makes them stiff and painful.  Exercising them properly builds muscle that helps absorb shock and protects the joints.  Oddly, my body hurts now when I don’t work out for more than three days. 

MYTH 6: Being sore is bad.
I used to think that being sore meant that I did something wrong and that I needed to “relax” for a few days until it went away.  Boy was I wrong.  Being sore means  your body is changing and that you’ve used it in ways it’s not used to.  Now when students tell me that they’re sore after a class, I smile and tell them that they’re welcome.  Wear that soreness like a badge of honor. 

MYTH 7: Stick with what you know.
I admit -- I’m a Zumba girl at heart.  I love to dance and always have.  Everyone has that specific exercise they feel comfortable doing -- and they do it repeatedly.  But your body gets used to doing the same thing all the time.  Force yourself to try something different even if you don’t want to.  Think of it as a challenge.  Hate weights? Sign up for a Circuit class.  Believe you’re not flexible? Go to a Pilates session.  You may hate every moment, but you may realize that your body is reacting --  and that, ultimately, is the goal. 

As a side note, I met one of my very best friend’s taking a Boot Camp class that I didn’t want any part in.  She forced me to go with her every week and even though running up and down high school stadium stairs was painful, being with my friend made it better.  Remember, exercise is also about the relationships you’ll make along the way. 

Not only is Anna Zap a rockstar JoyRide instructor, she is a popular radio host and star of the 99.9 show, Anna and Raven. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest music, and has a killer wit and sense of humor. Read more about Anna and see her upcoming schedule HERE.  

Written by: By Anna Zap