The myths that surround weight lifting are numerous.  These myths have developed over the years, and are hard to dispel.

I’m going to explore some of them here.  There are many more than the ones listed here, but these are the most common and misunderstood ones.


I’ll Get Too Big If I Lift Weights

Really??!!   I wish it were that easy.

Usually, this is believed by the person with the least amount of inclination, capability and determination to work hard and get big. It’s just a lame excuse.  Often women fall into this category, thinking somehow that they’re going to get big muscles from lifting weights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Do you really think those guys that are professional body builders got those muscles by going to the gym only for an hour 3 days a week??! NOPE!!  The guy on the left spends his entire life at the gym.

Gaining lots of muscle is a task that requires dedication, commitment and lots and lots of healthy eating.  It doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t come quickly.


I’m Too Old To Lift Weights 

This is a myth that burns me more than some of the others. I’m not a young guy and I’m proof that you can build muscle as long as you’re alive.

Weight lifting is beneficial for men and women from puberty to 99.  I do mean that. It’s good for everyone.

There have been numerous studies that show strength training can slow the aging process, help stability as people age, stop the loss of bone mass, increase cardiovascular health and generally contribute to a greater quality of life.

Everyone over the age of 50 should be lifting weights or doing some sort of strength training to improve the quality of their life by keeping their bodies healthy and fit.

Here is a workout routine designed for men over 60.


My Muscles Will Turn to Fat If I Stop Lifting

Listen to that. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous when you read it??!

Here’s what happens.

If you stop working out, your muscles will atrophy (reduce in size and strength) over time, and because you stop working out, you will most probably gain fat, unless you dramatically change your diet to adjust to not working out.


You Have To Lift Heavy To See Results 

This is a persistent myth that is believed even by people who workout and should know better.  Some trainers still believe this.

This debate goes on and on.

The sweet spot is somewhere in the 6 to 15 rep range.  Lifting a moderate weight in that rep range creates an optimal balance of muscular tension and metabolic stress.

Lifting a moderate weight in that rep range creates an optimal balance of muscular tension and metabolic stress. That amount of work will maximize your protein synthesis when you consume some protein after your workout. The result will be serious gains in size, strength, and power.

The key is lifting to the point of fatigue or even failure.

A technique that I use and teach is called the Power Triangle method and uses different weights and different rep ranges to maximize the stress on the muscle.  The result is better gains in muscle size and strength.

Weight Lifting Will Make You Less Flexible

I even believed this one for years. I thought that gaining muscle would increase the size of the muscle which would then constrict the movement of the joint around this big muscle.  How deluded was I?

If done correctly, weight lifting can actually have the opposite effect. Studies show that resistance training improves flexibility.

The key is to work through a full range of motion while lifting. For example, lifting a barbell all the way up and all the way back down during a chest press will help you use the full potential of your chest and shoulders.


Machines are Safer & More Effective Than Free Weights

With the advent of machines, people developed all kinds of theories about them being safer and more effective than free weights.


Weight machines isolate muscles and force your body to move in a single plane of motion, which can limit your range of motion and reduce the amount of good you get from your workout.

Lifting free weights, on the other hand, has been shown to recruit more muscles and can result in greater strength gains.  Making the body engage more fully, when you’re lifting weights, also has the added benefit of increasing your balance, your core and the muscles that help with stability.


Women Are Afraid They’ll Look Like Men If They Lift Weights.

I’ve heard this from more women who are avid exercisers.  It’s one that is probably the silliest of all these myths.

A woman would have to inject herself with male testosterone and male hormones to even have a chance of gaining big muscles and looking like this woman!!   Women are just not designed to gain muscle.   With lots and lots of weight training, they can get toned, but never muscular.

When you see those extremely muscular women bodybuilders, they have taken massive doses of male hormones to look like that.  It is NOT NATURAL.   No woman could look like that naturally.


Weight Lifting Is Bad For Your Joints

It’s a common misconception that weight lifting is harmful to your joints.

Published studies have found that people who were suffering from knee pain experienced a major reduction in pain when they performed weight bearing exercises.  They were also better at performing daily tasks and reported a higher quality of life than those who didn’t strength train.

This is because strength training can help grow strength in the structures around your joints, causing them to be better supported.

More studies have shown that weight training strengthens joints and improves their health. Joints that are mild/moderately stressed will secrete more natural joint fluid that lubricates the joint. Even arthritic joints can benefit from mild/moderate weight training.


Cardio Is The Best Way To Burn Fat

This is a myth that is still believed by many, many people.  I just recently wrote about this and you can read my article on this subject here.

There are tons of people who hit the treadmill for hours and believe they’re going to lose fat with this cardio exercise.

Experts used to think that aerobic exercise burned more calories than pumping iron. It seems like it would make sense because cardio workouts can make you sweat and feel tired, so you feel like you’ve burned a lot of calories.

But it turns out that strength training has more calorie burning potential than it’s been given credit for. Research has found that completing a circuit of eight exercises can burn more calories than a half hour of strenuous cardio exercise.

In fact, the term “cardio” shouldn’t be limited to just aerobic exercise. Circuit training with weights raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate.

Circuit training provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of cardio exercise, while strengthening your muscles at the same time.  This way you get both  – muscles and an aerobic exercise.


Here’s a video talking about some other myths.  It confirms some we’ve already talked about.




So now you know some of the most prevalent myths about weight lifting.  You probably have some beliefs yourself that you don’t realize are myths.

If you just use common sense, take heed of the myths we’ve presented here, you’ll have awesome workouts and get healthy and fit.

See you at the gym.



Published by "W" Tucker

I've been a fitness enthusiast for many years and want to encourage guys over 40 to get and stay in shape. It makes life better, and makes you look and feel better.

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  1. I am in my mid 40’s and lift weights about 5 days a week. I have chronic back pain and the only way to keep it at bay is to lift weights. I do light weight and do 5 sets of 20 reps. I 100% agree with your piece about flexibility. I have to keep my glutes and hamstrings flexible or my back tightens up. I do a lot of walking lunges, and this not only helps to maintain muscle mass in this area but also keeps me more flexible. Walking lunges stretch out that whole area while building stability and core strength. If I go more than 4-5 days and don’t work out my legs, I can feel things getting tight. Anyway, you have a ton of great information in this post. I completely agree with you and you debunk a lot of myths. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Steve, thanks so much for your comments.  You sound like you’re doing lots of things right.  One of the things that I do with my clients that have chronic back pain is to strengthen their core.  It sounds like you’re doing a great job, but I would suggest doing some planks and some floor bridges.  If you want more info, I’m available for free coaching for WA afflitates.

  2. This is an amazing page with lots of great info.

    I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and was told I need to lose weight. My question is would these kind of exercises help me lose weight. I dont need a lot of muscles but need to get rid of about 30 pounds.

    Could you give me some suggestions.

    1. Dale, thanks for the comments. If you need to lose 30 lbs, you need to do some strength training and adjust your diet to achieve what you want to. 

      For WA affliates, I offer free online coaching if that is something that would help you. Let me know if you’re interested. 

  3. Thanks for creating that informative video titled, “Strength Training Does What You Think Cardio Does.” I’ll be 52 years old next month and I’ve been doing cardio exercises several days a week for the past few months to get toned. After watching your video, I realized that I can get toned faster through strength training – in less time. What strength training exercises do you recommend for women over age 50 (138 lbs) who work-out a lot at home?

    1. Chandra,  thanks for the comments and the feedback.  

      As a start to introducing strength training into your exercise routine, I would suggest some stabilization exercises for the first week.  Three good exercises to do your first week would be the following: 1.) a plank for 30 seconds, 2) a side plank for 30 seconds and 3.) a floor bridge for 30 seconds. 

      If you’d like some weekly coaching over the next couple of weeks, I offer free online coaching to WA affliates.  I’m happy to help if you’d like it  Email me at  

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