4 Resistance Training Myths Exposed

By Dave Tai (guest contributor)

Misconceptions lead to inaccurate assumptions, and when spread, these assumptions evolve into myths. These myths in themselves are not harmful; however, people who believe in them will often spend hours week after week working on something completely ineffective and then give up trying altogether. Knowing the truth about these myths will help you understand what you ought to do to maximize your workout sessions.

Myth #1: Isolation exercises help to remove fat in specific areas

Perfect place for a run
Perfect place for a run

(photo: San Diego Shooter)

One of the major misconceptions people have is the concept that by working on areas with more fatty deposits they will be able to reduce fat in that area. Often you will see people performing crunches or sit ups to lose tummy fat, or perform lower limb exercises to get slimmer thighs. However, fat loss is not exercise specific; working specialized muscle groups will only help to strengthen or build muscle but will not result in specific fat loss. You might be able to perform a thousand crunches, but if your body fat percentage is high, your six pack will still be hidden underneath a layer of fat.


Your body composition is a combination of fat free mass and fat mass. In order to have a toned and lean body you need a low fat mass and a decent amount of muscle mass (without muscle mass you will end up looking bony and skinny). For people whose main concern is to slim down, you are better off performing cardio workouts such as a full body circuit, runs or interval training runs.

Myth #2: Women will become She-hulks if they do strength training

Many women are afraid they will end up looking like the female bodybuilders in magazines if they pick up weight training. As a result, many often use light weights and high repetitions thinking it will improve their muscle tone.


If the women training with light weights can train to fatigue within 90 seconds, they will actually benefit similarly to people who perform at heavier weights. However, if the weights do not provide enough resistance and you can perform with the weights for more than two minutes, your workout will bring few benefits.

Here is another secret for the ladies: some men have to struggle quite a bit to put on muscles. Females have a much lower level of testosterone and are genetically different from males, and therefore are not likely to bulk up. With resistance training women can improve their fitness level, strength and physique, but it is rather unlikely that they will develop any form of excessive muscular hypertrophy. The female bodybuilders that appear on magazines often take supplements to achieve such bodies.

Myth #3: You can be too young or old for training


(photo: hey mr glen)

Most people think that resistance training is limited to youths and adults only. Therefore many elderly or younger children have been discouraged to take part in such activities.


This cannot be further from the truth. This does not mean making kindergarten children should perform all kinds of heavy lifting like deadlifts or bench presses. In one study, nine year old girls underwent 10 months of simple resistance exercise and increased not only their strength and physical abilities but also their bone density as well. Contrary to popular belief they did not experience any form of stunted growth or injury. In another study, people of almost ninety years of age took part in a ten week strength training program and saw health benefits as well. Older muscles are surprisingly responsive to progressive resistance exercises. The key take home message here is to design appropriate resistance training rather than avoid it altogether.

Myth #4: Muscle turns to fat after you stop training

Many people are hesitant to build muscle because they are afraid that the moment they stop their training, the muscles they worked so hard to get will convert into fat. They are further convinced by people who seemed really muscular when they are young and who ended up with flabby bodies and beer bellies.


Understanding basic physiology will let you know that untrained muscle turning into fat is an absurd notion. Muscles and fats are two different tissues and there is no way one can transform into the other. What seems like a transformation is often an increase in the ratio of fat to muscle. That said, it does not mean that the muscles you have will stay with you forever – like everything else, it takes dedication and maintenance and should be a part of your lifestyle rather than a short term plan.

By guest contributor and fitness instructor Dave Tai. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.

Related Articles

Calisthenics: A Surprising Alternative to Weight Training (at HealthMatters.sg)

6 Tips to Staying Healthy and Happy in Your Mid-Life (at HealthMatters.sg)

4 Keys to Jumping Higher and Further with Plyometrics (at HealthMatters.sg)