Understanding Resistance Training

Resistance training may be one of the most misunderstood topics in fitness and performance. There's plenty of misinformation out there on the inter-webs so let's look at some common myths and misconceptions regarding resistance training.

  • Lifting weights will not make women bulky or "manly".
    • This is a common one that I hear all the time and frankly isn't true. It's almost impossible for women to get "bodybuilder bulky" from strength training because they don't produce enough testosterone to support that amount of muscle building, so to get to that level there typically needs to be some form of supplementation to get that amount of muscle building.
  • Resistance training makes you slow.
    • I get this from my young track athletes who are just starting out their journey of athletic development. It's been thought that resistance training will make you slow and this isn't the case. To go sprint faster you need to put more force into the ground, so strength training is necessary for speed or power athletes.
  • Girls shouldn't lift heavy weights.
    • Every time I have my track girls I see them not wanting to grab anything heavier than an 8 lb dumbbell when they can clearly go much heavier. This comes back to the false notion of them not wanting to get bulky, but to get strong you have to lift heavy weights and progress to heavier weights as you get stronger.
  • A good workout will leave you exhausted and sweaty at the end of it.
    • This is something I get from parents, that their kids aren't tired enough at the end of a session, or that they rested too much to get a good workout in. While it may come from good intentions, this "no pain, no gain" thinking that has surrounded fitness and performance training has gone on too long. For high intensity work (max strength, speed, power) there needs to be plenty of rest time so that the athlete can perform to their abilities. While there is a time and place for exhausting workouts they should be used sparingly depending on the goals of the individual.
  • You'll see results immediately.
    • I sincerely hope no one truly believes this. For physical changes to occur with resistance training it takes generally 6-8 weeks of consistent training. Before this, you'll see increases in strength, coordination, and power but these are primarily neurological improvements and the physical changes begin to show soon after this. The key with this is that you have to be consistent to see improvements.
  • Endurance athletes don't need resistance training.
    • This topic has gained a lot of attention recently and many endurance coaches still won't budge from the way they've always done things. The truth is that resistance training helps stave off injuries, improves running economy and can make you faster. This works because your muscles have now been stimulated to a level that allowed them to fire in a more efficient manner that wasn't happening with just running, cycling, swimming. The benefits of adding resistance training are very clear for endurance athletes and should be part of every training plan.