Dr. James Wyss, Physiatrist, corrects some popular strength training myths and offers helpful tips if you’re planning on hitting the gym to get in shape or improve your strength and conditioning.
1. “No pain, no gain” This is the oldest fitness myth and can lead to musculoskeletal problems. Mild muscle soreness, as opposed to pain, may occur and may have a delayed onset of about 24-48 hours post-exercise. If pain is more severe or persistent, decrease the intensity of your workout and progress at a slower pace. Persistent pain at a joint, muscle or tendon requires evaluation by a qualified physician.
2. “The more weight the better” Too much weight, too early is a common cause of muscle and joint injuries. Exercise using your own body’s weight or with minimal weight; this may be enough for early strength gains. Proper form and technique is very important and should be maintained even as weight is added or increased.
3. “If you want to lose weight around your waist line, do a lot of crunches” Exercises for specific body parts don’t selectively reduce fat in that area. Weight-loss and toning is based on your entire fitness plan, including healthy eating and exercise, to create a daily caloric deficit, burning more calories by being active than you take in by eating.
4. “Women should avoid lifting weights if they don’t want to increase muscle bulk” Women are less likely to ‘bulk up’ because of hormonal differences. If women avoid strength training because of this myth they are missing out on the potential benefits for bone health.
Some advice before you start: If this is the first time you are beginning a strength training program, or if you don’t routinely participate in an exercise program, discuss with your primary care physician first. If you are experiencing joint, tendon or muscle pain, seek evaluation by a physician experienced in treating musculoskeletal problems, such as an orthopedist, physiatrist, rheumatologist or sports medicine specialist.
The best way to select a trainer: If you are considering hiring a personal trainer, check their credentials first. Only see a trainer who is certified by an accredited agency, such as ACE, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Additional credentials, such as certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) or a formal education in athletic training, exercise physiology, or physical education will add value to the services you receive.
Dr. James Wyss, Physiatrist, specializes in the non-operative management and rehabilitation of common musculoskeletal and sports injuries. He has a special interest in spinal rehabilitation, interventional spine procedures, the use of ultrasound in musculoskeletal medicine, and injury prevention programs.