The silliest, ingrained myths about gym – PART II

In the first part I wrote about two existing myths connected with the influence of the gym on health and about supposedly “toxic” supplements and conditioners. Here are some further stories concerning strength workout.

You should definitely read:

Protein myths

The silliest, ingrained myths about gym – PART I

No.3: “gym will make you slow and fat like a Michelin puppet”

This myth derives from the fact that some people identify strength workout with the biceps, triceps and chest exercises. It happens very often that “the iron amateurs” don't care about other muscle groups, they also supply a lot of calories from inappropriate sources (e.g. fast food, sweets). If you identify strength training only with a “man with a belly” pumping arms, you are wrong! You imagine slow movements, tension, control. Stop. It's like you confused driving a truck with a trailer with Formula 1 racing. Bodybuilders mostly attack fibers of type IIa and I (moderate and slow). The most powerful potential is hidden in the IIx fibers – they are recruited extremely rarely (they are 10 times more powerful than type IIa fibers). Speed doesn't matter in bodybuilding. Following issues are important: lean body mass, circumferences, proportions, strong figure with muscles. A powerlifter and weight lifter use similar tools (if you want to go deeper into the subject, barbells and loads differ on the professional level), but the results: strength, speed and endurance are totally different. Each bodybuilding training is a strength training, but... there is at least a dozen of various training models (with heavy loads – weight lifting with the focus on strength-speed, powerlifting – of the static strength, strongman – mixed training, workout with medicine ball, with sand bag, with kettlebells). Majority of plyometric exercises can be a part of strength training – and I'm convinced that none of the bodybuilders you know does them (e.g. depth jumps, single leg hops, front obstacle jumps, long jumps, long jump with single leg hops, push ups with one-hand clap and one hand on a ball, explosive push ups, exercises with medicine ball etc.)


If the gym influences speed negatively, why:

  • in many different kinds of training you stimulate the fastest motoric units and the strongest muscle fibers?

  • majority of sportspeople who base on power and speed – train strength? Sprinters? Footballers? Martial arts competitors? (boxers, Thai boxers, wrestlers, MMA competitors)

  • the best and the heaviest competitors of weight lifting are able to lift 250-260 kg over their heads in less than a second and pull over 200 kg? Some weightlifters' films have to be played in slow motion to notice the technical nuance – that's how fast the exercises are performed,

  • according to many authors locomotive speed training and explosive strength training can base on the plyometric, jumping and strength exercises, e.g. “Wong et. Al [2010], applied a 12-week strength programme for 14-year-olds and they obtained satisfying post-workout results (the values of ratios: VJ – vertical jump and running times in 10m and 30m have statistically improved significantly)”[1]

  • “it's best to form the explosive strength through the plyometric workout” [1], and the necessary base to plyometrics are strength exercises (e.g. squats),

  • runners and swimmers use strength methods very often?

  • another author with similar thesis (this time it's gym for the jiu-jitsu competitor): “The development of strength: it plays important role in improving the speed of movement.” […] Exercises with outer resistant, which keep the structure of movement of particular technique, should be used. We perform them with the maximum or submaximum intensity. These exercises have to have the load, repetitions and sets chosen in such a way, to be able to do full range of motion the whole time. Most of these strength exercises are done in the preparation period, whereas during the competitions time they are only done to maintain certain level”[2]


For example, in research from 28th June 2014 [3] it was proved that the traditional model of training as following:

  • squats (3 weeks),

  • jump squats (with load) (3 weeks),

  • jump squat with change of direction (3 weeks),

as well as mixed training significantly improve the speed of sprint, power and explosiveness of the contestants in 9 weeks of exercising. The difference was that the exercises were done either in 3-weeks periods (3 exercises, one at a time, i.e. squats for 3 weeks, jump squats for the next 3 weeks and jump squats with change of direction for the last 3 weeks) – traditional training, or all the exercises within each training session for 9 weeks (mixed training).


The results of introducing strength training?

  • For the group of traditional strength training there was the increase of sprint speed in 20 m by 16% after 9 weeks of exercising,

  • for the group of mixed strength training there was the increase of sprint speed in 20 m by 14 after 9 weeks of exercising,

  • strength increased by 25 and 26 % (traditional and mixed training),

  • power in jump squats increased by 30 and 35 % (traditional and mixed training),

  • height of jump with the change of position increased by 36 and 39 % (traditional and mixed training),

The film –

">jump squat

To sum up: inappropriate strength training will make you feel slow and weak. However, in good hands, loads are not only harmless, but they also improve results.

No. 4: “gym will make a woman change into Arnold Schwarzenegger”

Each time when I'm trying to explain another lady that she chose her training goal wrongly, I feel misunderstood. When a woman hears “strength training” - she can only see the bodies of bodybuilders, packed shoulders, thighs, upper bodies and back, hyndreds of veins and steaming testosterone. And now imagine that strength workout changes the body throughout years, and you have to work hard for each gram of muscles. If anybody promises instant change of your body – fat reduction, toning, firming, getting rid of cellulite, great buttocks and thighs – they are either plastic surgeons, or you just met a wizard. In reality, the change of the body's appearance is very difficult and extremely slow.

If you think that after few months you will build muscles – I've got some bad news. It's a very slow and ungrateful process. As a woman, you can forget about building large muscles if you don't supply your body in the intramuscular or oral way any doses of androgenes (just like the competitors from GDR and professional bodybuilding women). But even then building “mass” is not that easy – which women find out (because it's not only mass that matters, but also lean body mass, proportions, presentation).


Without the pharmacological support, even if you train like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you will build as much muscles – in order for your body to be firm, sexy and the muscles to look nice. Don't be afraid of “the mass workout” expression – it only means: building muscle mass. For a woman each additional muscle kilogram is an oven burning fat. If you lack muscles – your resting metabolism rate (RMR) is very slow, and additional calories are gathered easily.

The silliest ingrained myths about gym – PART I