Strength Training Myths & Tips

by HSS on the Move
Strength training with weights

Dr. James Wyss, Physiatrist, corrects some popular strength training myths and offers helpful tips if you’re planning on hitting the gym to get in shape or improve your strength and conditioning. 

1. “No pain, no gain” – This is the oldest fitness myth and can lead to musculoskeletal problems.  Mild muscle soreness, as opposed to pain, may occur and may have a delayed onset of about 24-48 hours post-exercise. If pain is more severe or persistent, decrease the intensity of your workout and progress at a slower pace. Persistent pain at a joint, muscle or tendon requires evaluation by a qualified physician.

2.  “The more weight the better” – Too much weight, too early is a common cause of muscle and joint injuries. Exercise using your own body’s weight or with minimal weight – this may be enough for early strength gains. Proper form and technique is very important and should be maintained even as weight is added or increased.

3. “If you want to lose weight around your waist line, do a lot of crunches” – Exercises for specific body parts don’t selectively reduce fat in that area. Weight-loss and toning is based on your entire fitness plan, including healthy eating and exercise, to create a daily caloric deficit – burning more calories by being active than you take in by eating.

4. “Women should avoid lifting weights if they don’t want to increase muscle bulk” – Women are less likely to “bulk up” because of hormonal differences. If women avoid strength training because of this myth they are missing out on the potential benefits for bone health.

Some advice before you start: If this is the first time you are beginning a strength training program, or if you don’t routinely participate in an exercise program, discuss with your primary care physician first. If you are experiencing joint, tendon or muscle pain, seek evaluation by a physician experienced in treating musculoskeletal problems, such as an orthopedist, physiatrist, rheumatologist or sports medicine specialist.

The best way to select a trainer: If you are considering hiring a personal trainer, check their credentials first. Only see a trainer who is certified by an accredited agency, such as ACE, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Additional credentials, such as certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) or a formal education in athletic training, exercise physiology, or physical education will add value to the services you receive.

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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

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