Three slim women lift colorful kettlebells in a gym to build muscle and strength.
Centr Team

Busted: The worst myths about strength training

Centr Team

Gone are the days when the weight-training corner was the realm of bodybuilders alone.

Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, pull-up bars – more and more people are realizing the benefits of pumping iron and using bodyweight exercise for strength, health and muscle growth.

While more folks are reaching for weights, there are still some serious misconceptions about strength training holding others back. So we’re bearing the load and debunking three myths that might be stopping you from lifting yourself up to your fitness potential.

1. “If you lift weights you WILL get bulky.”

The idea that strength training will inevitably lead to dramatic muscle gain can be off-putting if your goal is fat loss or overall sculpting.

But the truth is, bulking up requires a specific meal plan and training. To gain muscle mass, a protein rich-diet and an abundance of calories are essential. In fact, if you’re following a healthy diet plan for fat loss or general fitness, you’d probably have to go out of your way to fit all those extra calories in.

Strength training builds lean muscle to sculpt and define your body shape. Because muscle is metabolically active, you’ll be burning fat even when your workout is over.

So even if bulking up is not your goal, don’t avoid strength training.

2. “Heavy weights are for bodybuilders”

Look, getting that competitive muscular bod isn’t easy. While we’re sure bodybuilders would love to achieve their physiques overnight, that’s just not the case.

Centr trainer Alexz Parvi, wearing an orange crop top and grey shorts, lifts weights over her head while lunging.

Doing high reps in a workout with light weights can be great for your cardio fitness and building endurance, but you need to challenge your muscles in order for them to grow and add definition.

So don’t be afraid to reach for the heavy weights. How heavy? Your muscles should be fatigued by the end of a set, and the final reps should be difficult to complete.

Achieving the physique of a bodybuilder requires years of effort and targeted training. Trust us, you’re not going to “bulk up” without actively working towards it.

3. “If you want to get toned, cardio is the only way to go.”

Cardio will burn calories, but the only way to get toned is muscle development through strength training. That’s because all “toning” really means creating definition by building muscle and burning fat.

So if you’re skipping your strength sessions, you’re missing out on a key part of the puzzle. The more lean muscle we develop through strength training, the harder our metabolism needs to work to keep it, resulting in a higher calorie burn during and after your workout.

Or, as Chris Hemsworth's trainer Luke Zocchi puts it: “Strength training makes you a fat-burning machine!”

Don’t forget, you need adequate calories to maintain muscle while losing fat, so if you’re cutting your intake too low, it could be hindering your goal.

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