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Fitness Myth Busters Edition One

Article authored by Doreen Kuenzler, Fitness Instructor at Hilton Head Health

When it comes to fitness and exercise, so much information is available, yet not all of it is reliable or truthful.  Information changes quite a bit, and things can get confusing quickly!    You’ve probably heard many misconceptions and claims and maybe wondering which ones are actually valid.   

I’ve been a personal trainer and fitness instructor for about five years now, but have been physically active for most of my life.   When it comes to myths, I’ve seen and heard quite a few!  Let’s clear up a few misconceptions that could stand in the way of you accomplishing your goals. 

As not to overwhelm you, I’ve chosen two to tackle for this post.  We will list each fitness myth and “bust” them, one by one! 

  1. Lifting weights will make you bulky 
  2. No pain, no gain 

Fitness Myth Number One:   Lifting Weights Will Make You “Bulky” 

Muscles on a woman

As a trainer, I have heard this more times than I can count.  Many women are genuinely concerned that if they utilize resistance training, or lifting weights especially if (gasp, a barbell!) is involved, their body will transform into an unbecoming mass of muscle.  

 Let me assure you, ladies, nothing could be further from the truth!   

First of all, women find it much more challenging to achieve muscular mass or size, as our testosterone levels are around one-third of that of our male counterparts.  In order to achieve large muscle mass, a female would have to commit significant time, follow a specific diet plan, and be very, very dedicated to that cause.  It would be close to fulfilling a full-time job!   

By incorporating resistance training a woman can most definitely achieve a degree of muscle that makes her lean, toned, and tight… not to mention strong!  An additional plus is that more muscle means more calorie burn!   Even when your body is at rest, muscle tissue burns calories!    

Did you know that one pound of muscle could burn up to 7-10 calories per day? 

Think of it as though you are actually chiseling and shaping your body- not making it larger or “bulky”!  You have all the choice in the world to shape and create your body.  Some women choose to do Olympic Weight lifting, or powerlifting, or even train for a bodybuilding competition.  Personally,  I enjoy feeling strong, confident, fit, and healthy.  In my exercise routine, I incorporate strength training at least 3-5 days a week.  Resistance training tools could include anything from dumbbells, resistance bands, even weight machines, to everyday household objects:   I’ve even used one-gallon water jugs!  FYI a full one-gallon jug weighs approximately eight pounds.      

 Not sure how to start?  Consider working with a certified trainer to set some goals, and create a resistance training plan that works for you.  The benefits are well worth it!  

 Here are some qualities to consider for when selecting a certified personal trainer

Many of you may find that by incorporating resistance training  as little as three times a week, you could: 

-Find it easier to perform daily tasks such as carrying in the groceries or walking upstairs 

– Become leaner and more efficient at burning calories and may even lower your metabolism 

-Gain a sense of  empowerment and confidence  

Woman lifting weights

Myth Number Two: No Pain, No Gain 

No doubt, you’ve heard the term, “No pain, no gain” as it pertains to the gym or an exercise routine.  Just how true is it?  Must one go all out and endure a huge amount of physical pain to achieve fitness gains?  The short and simple answer: NO!   

No Pain, No Gain

Exercise should not be acutely painful, period.  Uncomfortable at times, absolutely.  There is a significant difference between the two.   

Pain is more often than not a sign of injury, which could become serious, especially if ignored.  Think of pain like a built-in alarm system.  Sharp and/or acute pain is a red flag, and should be a sign to STOP not “push through”. For example,  if you are experiencing chest pain, it could signal a heart issue.  Joint pain could mean a ligament or tendon injury.    

Feeling “the burn” ( lactic acid build-up) is more on the uncomfortable side, and feels much different.  Growth and fitness gains definitely do require a level of being outside our comfort zones, and it’s important to follow proper technique and form,  in order to avoid injury.   

Physical exercise can help us connect with our bodies as we haven’t before, and learning to withstand a little physical discomfort can teach us how to adapt and grow.   

 Many injuries or chronic pain is the result of improper movement.   It could be beneficial to enlist a professional trainer to reach goals safely, as well as to measure and track your progress in your exercise program.    

Feeling a little sore a day or two after a work out is normal.  DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is common and feels different than acute or sharp pain.  Muscles may feel tender to the touch, be slightly swollen, or feel fatigued.  DOMS can affect just about anyone and usually happens if you haven’t worked out in a while, or start a new routine.   

Training does not have to be painful to be effective. Overtraining and not taking time to recover could be detrimental to what we are trying to achieve.  Success for one person could be walking or running one mile, and another success could look like a recovery day.   The bottom line, be smart, listen to your body, and make sure you are taking time to recover.   Your body needs breaks.   More is not necessarily better when it comes to exercise or a fitness routine. 

Exercise offers numerous benefits, including our mental health: https://www.hhhealth.com/2020/03/23/the-benefits-of-exercise-and-your-mental-health/ 

I hope busting these two fitness myths helped clear things up.   Stay tuned for more “Fitness Mythbusters” coming soon!