Weightlifting myth vs. fact

Rise Strength Lab owners and their regular Pilates instructor, from left: Brandon Wicks, Chrissy Kuny, and Jarek Winters. Photo by Jordyn Peters.

Exercise is an important part of everyday life. Staying active keeps you healthy and improves mental health.

Jarek Winters, personal trainer and co-owner of Rise Strength Lab, explains that weight training is one of the most effective ways to achieve weight-loss goals and overall fitness. Rise Strength Lab is a gym that focuses primarily on weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. Winters often hears complaints and worries when people begin a weightlifting program. He debunks some of these worries and myths.

Rise Strength Lab regular poses with her favourite workout equipment. Photo by Jordyn Peters.

Myth: Lifting weights will make me bulky.

There is a common misconception about training that lifting weights will cause you to gain an absurd amount of muscle and have a bulky appearance. This myth stems from people only seeing and judging from the televised version of bodybuilding, which is often performance based. It takes a rigourous amount of training, dedication and diet to build a great physique, let alone attain a bulky appearance.

Myth: To lose weight I need to focus mostly on cardio.

While cardio does help in the journey of weight loss, it is far from the only type of exercise you should be doing if that is your goal. Weight training is often overlooked when it comes to weight loss because people generally correlate going for a run with a weight-loss journey.

This comes from people glorifying the “I’m going to go for a jog every day to shed a couple pounds” statement. They would benefit far more from a weight training session, with some HITT mixed in. Not only does it increase the calories that you burn, but you will be retaining muscle mass as you cut weight because you are forcing your muscles to stay strong and forcing them to have a use while your body is losing weight. Cardio is a great way to lose weight, but by no means the best or the only way.

Unless you are dealing with a serious injury or a disease that limits your movement, squatting is far from being bad for your knees. Your knee health and strength will actually benefit from a squat. It is strengthening all of the muscles surrounding your knee and further protecting and preventing them from any injury. This myth comes from the countless number of videos on social media and horror stories of people failing a squat and hurting themselves, simply because they were using a weight they could not handle or their form was incorrect. It is also a myth built up by the common gym bro who avoids training legs at all cost.

Myth: Muscle will turn to fat when I stop lifting.

At first glance, and looking at former bodybuilders, you may assume that when you stop working out your muscles just turns into fat. But this is in fact false.

Many of these cases where ex-bodybuilders start to appear “fat” is not because their muscle is converting, but it’s because they have slowed down or even stopped their training regime but continue to eat like they did while training. Their bodies are not working as hard and simply cannot burn that same amount of calories as they once could.

What happens to muscle when you stop training is actually a process called atrophy. What this is, is your body trying to return to its “natural state” before it took on the stimulus of weight training. You would not get fat if you stopped training, you would just simply return to where you started.

Myth: I don’t want to stick to a boring diet for the rest of my life.

Diet myths are everywhere and it’s one thing that some people can’t get a hold on. There is no “perfect” diet: the best diet is the one that you can stick to.

There is a stigma around “cheat meals” and junk food and how you should avoid them if you want to lose weight, but all it breaks down to is moderation, and calories in vs. calories out at the end of the day.

You could be eating the healthiest you’ve ever eaten, chicken breast and broccoli for every meal of the day, but if you’re eating in a caloric surplus then you’re going to gain weight. It has nothing to do with the types of food that you’re eating.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to dieting, whatever you can stick to is the best option.

Winters prides himself on his physique, his knowledge of fitness and physicality, and his ability to eat a dozen donuts and then immediately do 1,000 jumps with a skipping rope. His priority when opening his own gym was to create a safe space for fitness where people feel comfortable and confident.

Jarek Winters chalks his hands in preparation for a heavy lift. Photo by Jordyn Peters.

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