There are a lot of myths out there in terms of weightlifting. And while I feel we're in a much more well-educated world these days than maybe we were a few years ago, there are still lots of myths out there, especially surrounding women & weightlifting. And so my intention today is to have a conversation about some of the most common weightlifting myths that I hear and talk through them. So, let’s bust some of those myths right now.
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 138
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Let’s bust some myths! 0:49
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies radio, I'm your host Amber Brueseke. And today, I'm going to be busting some myths. You know them, you've probably heard them, you've probably seen them on social media platforms. There's a lot of myths out there in terms of weightlifting. And now, don't get me wrong, I feel like we are in a much more well-educated, better position today than maybe we were 10-15-20 years ago. But there's still a lot of weightlifting myths out there and especially a lot of weight lifting myths around females lifting weights. And so my intention today is to have a conversation about some of the most common weightlifting myths that I hear and talk through them. Because a lot of times these things are nuanced. And it's important to understand a little bit of the nuance. So we're going to dive into that together today.
An upcoming workshop that will help you in your workout program1:46
Now, before we dive into all about busting these myths, I want to share with you that I do have training coming up on all five things that your workout program must include in order to build muscle and lose fat. Most women who come to me when I ask them what their goal is, it is some form of the version of I want to lose fat and or I want to gain muscle. That is really what creates a transformation when you look at before and after pictures. That transformation usually comes from either losing fat or gaining muscle or a combination of those two things. And the problem is a lot of women, the things that they're doing in the gym aren't actually creating that transformation that they want. And they don't even know it because no one's ever taught them the things that they need to look for in a workout plan to help it to be the most effective for their goals. And so that's what I'm going to be teaching in this class, we're going to talk about the five things, I'm gonna go over five things that your workout program needs to include so that you stop wasting your time, like you actually, the time that you spend in the gym actually makes a difference. So this sounds like something that would be helpful for you in reaching your fitness goals, go to bicepsafterbabies.com/workshop, and get registered for the workshop, and come to class. And I will help you to make it really simple and really easy to understand what you need to include in your workout plan. And it might not be what you actually think it is. So go to bicepsafterbabies.com/workshop. And I'll see you there.
Myth no. 1: Lifting makes you bulky 3:21
Okay, I have five myths that we are going to go through today. And myth number one is probably the most common. It is a myth that lifting makes you bulky. I feel like this is a myth that will never die. And I totally get it. I get why. And the reason why it won't die is the very first thing that we're going to have a chat about and that is what your definition of bulky is. So I think a lot of times you'll hear people say, well, lifting weights doesn't make you bulky. They just flat out say you're wrong when people have this concern. And that's not what I want to do here today. Because I think the most important thing when someone communicates to me, you know, is lifting makes you bulky or making a statement lifting makes me bulky. I would ask the question back, like what is your definition of bulky, because everybody has a definite different definition of what that actually means.
Know your expectations 4:22
And I also think it is really important to know your expectations going into the process. And here's why. If you think that you're going to get bulky when you lift you will. And not because necessarily your body has changed. But because what you expect is usually what your brain sees. Our brain is like confirmation bias, like whatever we think is going to happen is what our brain sees. And I see this a lot with women who go through a reverse diet. So if you don't know what a reverse diet is, it's where you slowly are adding back calories over time based on the feedback from your body in order to increase your metabolic rate after going through a deficit. Now, I explained much more in detail in episodes 9, 42, and 114. So if that's a new term for you, definitely go back and listen to those episodes. But we see this a lot with women as they're going through reverse. They are scared about regaining weight, they're scared about losing the progress that they've made during their deficit. And so then, when they look at the mirror, that's what they see.
Importance of getting your quantitative data 5:34
And it's one of the reasons it's so important to take the quantitative data, the measurements, the skill, weight, the progress pictures, be able to take that quantitative data to help us to break away from some of the emotional decisions that a lot of women make, okay? Because the qualitative data, the more like, how do you feel, can really easily lie. And so a lot of women will start going through reverse. And in their head, they've always equated adding food with getting fat. And so they'll go through reverse, and they're adding food, and they're adding calories. And so their brain automatically thinks, well, we must be gaining, we must be gaining fat, we must be getting fatter. And so then they feel fluffy, and they feel like they're getting bigger, and they look in the mirror, and they're like I look totally different. And then that's where the quantitative data comes in, where we say, Okay, well, what's your measurements? What's your weight? What are your progress pictures doing? And they look at those data points. And they recognize that the other brain says that they've gained weight, their brain says it, they're fluffy, they really do feel fluffy. But none of that qualitative data actually reflects that change. And that's because they expected to feel fluffy, they expected to gain weight. And so that is, their brain found evidence that that was what was going through.
Your thoughts might be possible 6:55
So coming back to this myth of lifting makes you bulky, if you think that you're going to get bulky and you're afraid of getting bulky when you go and lift, you probably will. Your brain will look for evidence that you are getting bulky whether or not that's actually the case, you will feel like you're getting bulky and that's when we start feeling having women say oh, I feel fluffy, or I feel bigger, or I feel like I feel these things. And it's why it's so important that in addition to like the way that you feel that we actually have quantitative data, to actually assess that that's actually the case.
Build more muscle! 7:29
Now I want to go back to the question that I asked, like, What is your definition of bulky, because here's the truth. For many of you who are listening, the physique that you want requires you to build more muscle than you currently have. And the problem is that so many women are trying to achieve their goal physique, only through cutting only through fat loss. But you cannot cut to what is not there. And so even if you are the best person cutting and you lose a ton of fat, if you have not taken the time to actually build the muscle when you cut, it isn't going to magically be there. And my guess is that you actually probably have less muscle on your body than you think you do. Most women overestimate the amount of muscle they think they have on their body and that's okay. But recognize that in order to get to the physique that you want, it will likely take building more muscle than you currently have on your body frame. And you cannot just cut, cut, cut in order to get there, it won't actually get you there because you have to have taken the time to build the muscle.
Add muscle mass not pounds of fat 8:48
So building muscle lifting, does add mass. Okay? You're going to be adding muscle mass. So if you think that getting bulky means adding any mass to your body, then yeah, lifting makes you bulky. Okay, so you have like, we got to add mass, it can't magically go somewhere it like actually has to be added to your muscles. And at the same time, when you add five pounds of muscle, it looks very different from adding five pounds of fat. You'll often hear people say, muscle weighs more than fat, which is not actually true. Because a pound of fat is the same as a pound of muscle. They weigh the same, they're both a pound. But what is different is the density of the tissue. So five pounds of fat is a much larger volume than five pounds of muscle. Five pounds of muscle is a much denser tissue but it is still tissue, still present. And will it still add mass? Yes.
Lightbulb moment on getting a new jeans 10:01
Now, I've had this happen a couple of times, actually with clients, where they're like, I'm going through reverse or I'm in maintenance, and my jeans are starting to feel tight. Like I'm doing something wrong. It's funny I, we always default to like, I'm doing something wrong, I'm doing something wrong, my jeans feel tight, like what's going on here. And, you know, we tease out some of the data that they share with me. And in the end, I'm like, well, you're gaining muscle. You're getting muscle, like, Where did you think that muscle was going to go? It had to go somewhere. So yeah, your jeans are feeling a little tight, because now you are developing some quadriceps. That doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It just means you need new jeans. And having that expectation that understanding if you want to be like stick skinny, and you want to stay stick skinny, don't put on muscle because it does need to go somewhere. And I find especially with women who don't have any muscle on their body or very little muscle on their body. When you go into a building or you go into weightlifting, it's going to change the shape of your body. That's kind of the point, that's kind of part of the process. But if you aren't expecting that, and you aren't ready for that, then yeah, you're gonna get started the process, you're gonna be like, Oh my gosh, I'm getting bulky, my pants are getting tight, I'm out. When in actuality, that's the time to be like, yes, this is working. My pants are getting tight, I'm adding muscle. Let me get some new pants that are going to fit my new quads. That's where I go, like, these pants will fit me anymore because my quads are getting too big for these pants. And I need to just get some new pants to fit my quads, not the other way around. I don't need to reduce my quads to fit in the pants. No, no, I just got new pants. And so when I had the conversation with this woman, with this client that I'm thinking about, she had kind of a lightbulb moment. And she's like, Oh, I just need to go get some new pants that actually fit my legs now. And she got some new pants and she posted a picture. And she's like, Oh, I like I look amazing. I look like I know, I look like I want to look, she's had to get over the hump of getting new jeans because the jeans were made for people who didn't have muscle.
Gain muscle and lose fat 12:11
And so anyway, circling back around, I don't ever want to dismiss anyone who says that lifting makes you bulky because many women have had that experience where they add muscle mass, and it makes them bigger in a way. But recognize that this is a two-pronged approach that most of you listening need to do two things you need to gain muscle and lose fat. And so most women default to losing the fat first. And what would happen if you defaulted to gaining the muscle first, and then losing the fat then stripping away the fat because they both need to happen. And so often we spend so much time thinking about fat loss and not nearly enough time thinking about adding muscle.
Myth no. 2: You can gauge how good your workout is based on your heart rate and how much you sweat 13:02
Okay, myth number two, thinking that you can gauge how good your workout is based on your heart rate and how much you sweat. And I totally get it. Because I was there. The more sweat I had pouring off of me, the higher my heart rate was during a workout class, the better workout it was. Like it gave me the illusion that it was better. And this was like my group fitness days were like, let's see how high we can get the heart rate. Let's see how much I can sweat and how tired I am at the end of class. And then that is like that's a good class. In fact, I remember like, I couldn't even stand yoga. I was like, who would do yoga? Like you don't even sweat during yoga. It's kind of like a waste. That was me like 10 years ago, like who would do yoga. It's like a total waste. What my younger self 10 years ago didn't really understand is that a good workout has nothing to do with your heart rate and how much you sweat. It has to do with the question of whether it is structured for what you want. A good workout is one that is structured for what you want to achieve. So is yoga a good workout? It depends. Is your goal-mind body connection? Is your goal going inward? Is your goal of getting better at flexibility and holding positions? If those are your goals, yoga is a fabulous workout. If your goal is to build muscle, yoga isn't a great workout. Okay, it's not that Yoga is bad, a bad workout, or a good workout. It's like it depends on what your goals are. And so it's the truth with all the other types of workouts. Just how high you get your heart rate and just how much you sweat doesn't really matter. The question is, is this workout structured to create the results that I want? And a lot of women are walking around feeling like they got a really good workout because they sweat a lot during the workout. And maybe that actually is a good workout because I'm gonna actually distinguish between something right here.
Difference between a workout and a training 15:14
A lot of people use these words, use the word workout. And I actually want to define my definition of workout, and how it differs from training. So working out is anything that you do to move your body. Workout is like, you move your body in some form, which is very different from training, where training is a movement that is done with a specific purpose in mind. Okay, athletes train, because their workouts are all created to have a certain result, to run faster, to be stronger, to have faster acceleration, right, they all have their workouts structured very specifically to have a certain result happen. That's why it's a training program, which is different from a workout program, a workout program is like just moving your body. There's nothing wrong with a workout program. There's a lot of just inherent benefits to moving your body. There's nothing wrong with that. And if that's where you're at, and you're like, No, I just want to move my body and be great. There's a lot of workouts that will do that for you, we'll get you to move your body. But if you want a certain adaptation, if you want a certain result, if you want to lose weight, if you want to add muscle, if you want to actually have a transformation picture, you need a training plan that aligns with that result that you want. So stop gauging how good your workout is, based on how high your heart rate is, and how much you sweat, it actually doesn't give you a whole lot of information, and instead, focus on making sure that your training is actually structured for the results that you want.
Myth no. 3: More is better 17:00
Okay, Myth number three, more is better. There are two extremes, really when it comes to training. Those people who under the train, and those who overtrain. And I find more and more people are going to the extreme of overtraining, especially as they age because recognize that the older you get, the longer recovery takes, takes your body longer to recover. If you are 60 years old then when you're 20 years old, okay, recovery takes longer as you age. And so what happens is as people age, they kind of stopped taking that into account. And you think that you can do the same things at age 40, that you did at age 20. And then you get in trouble. And then you can't walk the next day, right? Because your body is not the same at age 40 as it was at age 20 and recovery takes longer.
The need of our body to recover to become stronger 18:08
And here's the rub. If you aren't actually recovering fully, then you're actually getting weaker. Okay, if you are not recovering, if you're not allowing your body to recover fully, then instead of getting stronger, you're actually getting weaker. Most of us know that we shouldn't work out seven days a week, right? Most of us know, inherently that working out seven days a week, for like weeks on end is a recipe for disaster. We need to have some sort of rest there. But there are plenty of people who are working out six days a week or five days a week who are actually still overtraining. And it's not. And here's the thing, that's really important. I can't just sit here and say you need to have everybody should have three rest days or two rest days or one rest day because that's not how it works. It's different based on your age, your ability to recover, the stress in your workouts, the stress in other areas of your life. Okay, but there are plenty of people who are working out five days a week, who are overtraining. And it's because more is not better, more is just more. Actually, for much of my powerlifting training, I actually trained, the max I trained when I was doing powerlifting was four days a week. And there was a period of time that I only trained for three days a week. So that's three days a week that I was training and I was resting having rest days for four days a week. Okay, more is not better, more is just more and we have to be aware of that by maximizing the amount of effort that and the stress that we're putting on the body, but then allowing the body to recover because the recovery time is actually when you get stronger.
Quality of workout and training adaptation 19:56
So what I would love for your takeaway to be from this is for you to be more concerned with the quality of your workouts and actually training the adaptation you want to occur rather than the quantity or the number of workouts. Be more concerned with the quality, and making sure that every workout that you do is actually aligned with the goals that you have set is actually training what you want to occur. Rather than just thinking that way, the solution is just to add more workouts. It's not working, not transforming, add more, do more. It doesn't work. And many people have gone to the cycle where I've worked with women who are working out six days a week, sometimes two days, you know, they're exercising 9-10- 11- 12-15 hours a week, and they're confused as to why it's not working. Well, the reason is, is because more is not better. In fact, more can be one of the most damaging things that you can do. Because instead of allowing your body time to recover and getting stronger, you're actually slowly getting weaker over time. Okay, so more is not better. Better is better.
Myth no. 3: Heavyweights means barbells 21:14
Alright, Myth number four. Oh, this is a fun one. Heavyweights mean barbells. Okay, we kind of had this idea. People throw around this term a lot. You need to lift heavy weights, women need to lift heavyweights. And then nobody explains what heavyweights mean. Like, what does that even mean? Because heavy, you know this, it's a relative term. Right? Heavy is relative. It's just spicy. I am a wimp with spice. I will eat something to be like, Oh, that's super spicy. And my sister will be like what you talked about? It is not spicy at all. What are you talking about? Okay, so to me, it's spicy to her, it is not spicy at all. And that's because spicy isn't relative, heavy is also relative. So what is heavy for me may not be heavy for you, and what is heavy for you may not be heavy for me. So heavy, when we talk about lifting heavy, it simply means that it is challenging for you to complete the designated reps and sets. That's it. Is it challenging for you to complete the designated reps and sets? If so, you are lifting heavy. The goal when you're training is to be able to get to the last rep and complete it with good form but it's hard to struggle. You don't really want to do that last rep. That's the goal. That means that you're lifting heavy. And if that's your bicep curling a 10 pound, you know, dumbbell, that is heavy for you. Some people it may be a 10-pound dumbbell some people will maybe a 50-pound dumbbell, right. But it doesn't really matter how heavy is relative to the person who is lifting it. This is why you're starting to see why a workout that provides a designated weight for you is not ideal. Because what's heavy for me may be impossible for you and vice versa. So when a workout says you should be lifting a 10-pound weight. Just know that that's not really ideal because 10 pounds may not be heavy for you, or it may be way too heavy for you. And we always want to be customizing our weight selection based on what you can do and what your body can do.
It depends on how strong you are 23:44
So barbells are awesome, don't get me wrong, I love some barbells. I want to get more women both lifting barbells. And honestly, they're a great way to keep increasing the weight, especially for compound lifts because you can continue to increase that weight to infinity, essentially. Whereas if you're trying to like for example, a squat, to try to squat dumbbells, there's likely an amount of dumbbells that you're gonna be able to like have to get onto your back and hold and like keep in position, you're going to be kind of limited with how high you can take the weight, whereas, with a barbell, the limitation is based on your strength. I was like, I go back to high school chemistry. Do you guys remember the limiting reagent in chemistry? I use that term all the time. So the limiting reagent, when you are lifting dumbbells, is often what is heavier. How heavy of dumbbells can you get? How can you wield them? How can you get them into place? That's what's limiting the amount how heavy you can go. Whereas with a barbell, the limiting reagent is going to be how strong you are. Because we can put as much weight on the bar as you can lift.
Heavy is relative 24:56
But as much as I love barbells and as much as I would love to get more women lifting barbells, it is not the only way to lift heavy, heavy is relative, it means you are challenging yourself, you're getting to the point where it's hard. If you don't get to the point where it's hard and you have to take a break, it kills me that these people go from exercise to exercise with like, no break. If you don't like having to take a break afterward, because you're tired and you can't do any more reps, you're probably not lifting heavy enough, you probably need to be challenging your body a little bit more. Because let me tell you, when I lift heavy, the thing I want to do after I finish the lift is sitting my butt down and rest. If you don't have that desire to like, sit down and rest, you're not tired, there's probably more in the tank, we probably need to be pushing more and you know, getting more out of the tank because you got more in you.
Myth no. 5: Abs are made in the kitchen 25:58
Okay, the last one is the myth that abs are made in the kitchen. Now hear me out on this one. Abs maybe and people say this because they are trying to make the case that nutrition is really important. Like if you want to have abs, then your nutrition is really important because abs are made in the kitchen. And I get that but I want to tweak that a little bit because I don't think it's actually accurate, an accurate reflection of what it takes to get abs. Abs are maybe uncovered in the kitchen. But they are made in the gym.
Sharing my abs building journey 26:38
Again, we talked about this in the first myth that you cannot cut to what is not there. And if you haven't actually taken time to build your abs, when you cut, it's gonna be hard to see them. And I actually talk about this a lot in Episode 62, where I talk about how I got abs and how you can get abs too. And I share my experience that when I first wanted to get abs I had to get down to like 16- 17% body fat, I had to lose quite a bit of body fat in order to visibly see abs. Then fast forward a couple of years where I'd done a lot more compound lifting. I don't really train abs, I just lift heavy barbells which train your abs very nicely if you do it right. So I, you know, a couple of years of compound lifting and lots of heavy squats, lots of heavy deadlifts, heavy bench, you know, just like the heavy work overhead press, things like that. I built up my abdominals more and the next time I wanted to get more visible abs, I only had to cut to around 20% body fat. I didn't have to get down to 16 to see it because I actually had taken the time to build up my abs. So you could see them without having to get super, super, super lean. And you know I have a right now between 20-22% body fat, you can see abs, you know, at least sort of in that range. And that is because I've taken the time to actually build my abs.
Abs are made in the gym 28:04
So abs are not made in the kitchen, they may be uncovered in the kitchen, right you're stripping off the fat to be able to see the abs, but they are made in the gym. The abs are just like any other muscle group, we can build them up. And the more you build up the abs, the higher body fat percentage you can stay and remain and still see visible abs not having to cut down to you know 15-16% body fat, which kind of sucks by the way to try and get that lean. Okay, so abs aren't covered in the kitchen. But they are made in the gym.
So those are the five myths for you that I busted today. Myth number one lifting makes you bulky. Myth number two, you can gauge how good your workout is based on your heart rate and how much you sweat. Myth number three is better. Myth number four heavyweights mean barbells. And number five abs are made in the kitchen. So hopefully this kind of shed a little bit of light on some of those myths.
Hopefully, you know, once we start teaching you you can teach your family members and your friends and you know other people on social media that some of these things that keep getting propagated aren't actually true and that there's a lot more nuanced when it comes to some of these things. And helping women to understand and start to embrace weightlifting and include it as a part of their training plan is one of my biggest goals. It's something that I love to do.
A free workshop on 5 things your workout should include 29:34
And so if you're wondering more about how to make sure when you go into the gym, that you're actually training, that you're not wasting your time. There are five things that your workout needs to include, especially if you are someone who is looking to lose fat and or gain muscle. Okay, here are five things that you got to like check these off, does my workout include this? Does my workout include this? Does my workout include this? And I'm going to share those with you in A free workshop. So if you want to learn those five things and make sure that your workouts are actually aligned with the goals that you have set for yourself, go to bicepsafterbabies.com/workshop, free come get signed up, come hang out with me in class, and you'll walk away with an assurance of either Yeah, my workouts are totally aligned, or, hey, there are some things that I can do to fix these so that I'm not wasting time when I go to the gym, or when I work out at home. So I'd love to see you in class. It's bicepsafterbabies.com/workshop. And we'll also link all of that up in the show notes which will be at bicepsafterbabies.com/138 because this is episode number 138.
Show your love and support for this podcast through sharing and leaving your ratings and review 29:34
That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. If you loved it, would you do me a favor and just take five minutes of your time and leave a rating and review on iTunes. It really makes a difference for the podcast, it really helps us to get more eyeballs on it and for iTunes to see hey, this is something that people enjoy. So thank you, to those of you who have taken the time to leave a rating and review on iTunes. If you haven't yet, please know it takes like two, three, maybe four minutes of your time to do it. And it really is a great way to say thank you for all the free content that we put out here on the podcast. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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