Myth #1: Heavy weights make you "bulky"
Heavy weights typically do not lead to increased muscle mass, moderate weights do. Muscle mass is more of a function of volume (ie. number of sets x number of reps). Muscle mass is best gained using multiple sets (3-5) for moderate repetitions (8-12) at moderate loads (70-80% 1RM). Using heavy loads (85% 1RM and above) for repetitions in the 1-5RM range will lead to strength gains with minimal hypertrophy. Hence, heavy weights do not make you "bulky."
Myth #2: High repetitions are for toning
I don't know how many times I've heard this. Too many times to be sure. Toning (a
term I hate to use) is a result of losing fat and building muscle tissue so that you
develop a degree of muscle definition. While there are rep brackets better suited for
body compositional changes, there are no rep brackets that "tone." Body
compositional changes are a result of the program as a whole, not just the rep
bracket being used. As for high repetitions, repetitions of 12+, they are better
suited for developing muscular endurance.
Myth #3: You can only burn fat by doing cardio
You would think that by now most people would have realized that cardio is not the
only means by which you can burn fat. However, nearly EVERYONE I speak with in
the club where I work only knows fat loss by one method: cardio. Sure, cardio can
result in fat loss, but it is most effective the first 6-8 weeks of an exercise program
due to the changes in hormonal response that occurs with adaptation. Ever notice
how many people perform long duration cardio day in and day out only to leave the
gym looking exactly the same? I rest my case.
An overlooked method of burning fat is weight training. Many people understand
that by adding muscle mass you burn more calories around the clock, which may
result in more fat loss. However, what most people fail to realize is that a weight
training routine can be manipulated to achieve a specific hormonal response that is
conducive to fat loss. In other words, you will get a different hormonal response
from doing high repetitions as opposed to doing low repetitions. The key then is to
manipulate training variables in such a way that it will promote fat loss. I will
elaborate further on this topic in a future article.
Chad Anderson, CSCS operates a personal training, fitness programming, and
consulting business while also holding a full-time position as a senior personal trainer
at a commercial health club. He holds a BS degree in exercise science with a minor in
nutrition and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. You
can visit his website at http://www.afitsolutions.com