Listen to Your Body 366: 3 Strength Training Myths to Avoid

3 Strength Training Myths to Avoid

Strength training has the potential to expand your life in so many ways, which is why it makes me so sad when those who are relatively new to lifting get scared off by common myths and misconceptions. In my experience, there are three common strength training myths that I see that I want to set the record straight on.

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Key Takeaways

If You Want To Avoid Common Strength Training Myths:

  • Know that you don’t need to lift every day and that recovery is important
  • Stop trying to confuse your muscles instead of working towards your goals
  • Don’t push yourself to the point of soreness where you don’t enjoy it anymore

Strength Training Myths Exposed

One of the first myths people often hear when they are first exposed to strength training is that they need to lift every day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Rest and recovery days are necessary for a sustainable lifting routine, and they should not be taken lightly. The improvements you will see in your results when you schedule in the time for a recovery day from lifting will speak for themselves.

Another common myth is that you have to confuse your muscles in order to see results. While it is important to have modifications in your lifting routine to keep your muscles adaptive, you can actually do yourself a disservice by confusing your muscles too much. A training plan that progressively overloads you while training towards your goals is the key to a strategy that works for you.

The Key Is a Progressive Plan

Another myth that I see my clients get caught up in all the time is that if their workout is not making them incredibly sore, then it is not working. While everyone feels soreness occasionally, pushing your body to the point where you are so sore that you are not enjoying your workouts anymore isn’t benefiting anybody.

By creating a progressive plan, you can get more out of your lifting in the long run. Being more consistent, showing up without being extremely sore, enjoying your workouts, buying back more time, all without overdoing it, are just some of the benefits of avoiding these three common strength training myths.

What are some strength training myths that you have come across? Share them with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Learn about my exciting new offering that you have been asking for for years (3:43)
  • The importance of recovery and why you will see better benefits when you don’t lift every day (8:18)
  • Why you don’t need to confuse your muscles in order to make progress in your workouts (12:00)
  • Why your workout doesn’t have to make you sore in order to be effective (18:23)
  • How to find a training plan that is matched to your goals, needs, equipment, and more (22:55)


“Not only do you get amazing benefits from strength training, but I really do believe that it is a catalyst for expansion in your life.” (3:19)

“If we want to build strength, we are going to have to progressively overload the training plan over time. There are multiple ways to progressively overload a training plan, but all this means in very general speak, is that we have to change up certain variables of the workout at a reasonable pace over time so that your body continues to adapt.” (13:18)

“If you have goals, and you are looking to increase mass or looking to increase strength or looking to increase speed, power, then its important that you spend enough time actually being exposed to those things so that you increase and improve.” (17:40)

“Your soreness is really not a great indication of how good the workout was… but it is pretty demotivating when you are incredibly sore all the time, or you are just wiped out all the time, it is very difficult to wake up the next day or two days later excited to do that next workout.” (21:57)

“If you are following a training plan that is well thought out, hopefully, it is progressing you as wisely as possible.” (22:48)

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363: How to Stay Consistent in the Gym

360: 3 Ways to Beat Workout Boredom

Transcript: 3 Strength Training Myths to Avoid

Steph Gaudreau

If I had $1, for every strength training myth that I’ve ever run across on the internet, I would be retired by this point. On today’s show, I’m going to be digging into three of the more common strength training myths that I see with my clients when they come to work with me. Of course, there are more. And we could certainly turn this into a series where we cover even more of these myths. But I really want to empower you in this episode, to know which pieces of information are simply not true, which ones are just not good practice, and which ones are keeping you from enjoying all of the amazing benefits of strength training.

The next evolution of harder to kill radio is here. Welcome to the listen to your body podcast. On this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively. Hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, certified Intuitive Eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now on to the show.

Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. Thanks so much for being here today. I am very grateful that you’re back on the show, we’ve recently passed 4 million downloads, which you know, I’m pretty proud of because that means that this show has been listened to so many times over the last almost seven years. And even though it’s been a slow and steady process, I continue to enjoy bringing you this podcast so much. I’ve had the opportunity to introduce you to so many of my colleagues and people out in the world that I really admire and trust. And it’s also been a little bit more of a way for you to get to know who I am, and hopefully then come to work with me on some level. So thank you so much for listening to the show. And if you’re new here, hi, welcome. And make sure you hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcast app.

Weight Training for Women Over 40

Okay, I’m recording this, on the same day that I did an Instagram live about this same topic. So we’re going to cover three of the most common strength training myths that I see in my clients when they first come to work with me, and why these should be avoided, frankly. And the reason that I care about this so much is that not only do you get amazing benefits from strength training, but I really do believe that it is a catalyst for expansion in your life.

Unlike other pursuits where you might not think you’re good enough that you’re not worthy enough. Strength training is just one of those things that has the potential to expand your life instead of contracting it. And I love to see how you begin to experience that expansion. So we’re going to go over these myths today. But before we do, I want to talk about something really exciting that I recently launched for Tuesday. That was a couple weeks ago, February 22.

Obviously 2022 So 222 22 Not only is it a cool day and a freakin awesome number, but 2/22 is also my birthday. So for my birthday week, I launched a brand new dumbbell program called dynamic dumbbells. This is the program that y’all have been asking me for, for four years since I launched made strong and I’m really happy that it’s finally out in the world. It’s been so great to see so many people embracing this idea of you know what, I don’t want to have to think about my workouts at all. I’m busy. I have so much on my plate. I have so much on my mind. And you know what if you could just sequence it out for me and do as much of the thinking for me as possible. I will show up I will lift the weights and I will feel stronger I will feel more powerful. I will build that precious precious muscle and bone and I will just do the work because I love the way it makes me feel.

Dynamic dumbbells is the program that I created for you if you’re that person So it’s a 16 week, fully progressed, sequenced out, lifting program that you only need dumbbells, and ideally a set of bands for if you’re going to do the prep phase at the beginning. Which is really there to help you ease back into compound movements, if you’ve taken a break, and it truly is the most simple stripped down, but effective program that I could possibly consider even writing and bringing to you.

Follow a Smart Training Plan

So I’m really excited, it’s out in the world. If you have been wanting a program like this, that’s simple equipment, you could do this at home, you will need, ideally a couple sets of dumbbells. But I’ve got more advice inside the program about that. If you’re ready to just show up and do the lifting, so that you don’t have to think, then this program is for you, you can find it on my website, Steph

And look for dynamic dumbbells on the homepage. And then of course, in the menu. And I would love to see you doing this program to be embracing strength to be following a smart training plan. There’s nothing wrong with random workouts, sometimes you just got to move. And I totally get that. And made strong as an awesome program, it’s much shorter, the workouts are much smaller. And you do have to choose your own adventure, right, you’ve got to think about it, you have to make the choices, it requires a little bit of work out of you. So if you’re like I just can’t right now with that. And I just want to be told what to do. I want to progress out sequence doubt with evidence based strategies.

And this is, you know, size based information, then go ahead and and get dynamic dumbbells, stuff Okay, it was tough to narrow down the three myths that I wanted to cover on this podcast because of course there are so many like your knees should not go forward at all when you squat, which is just preposterous. But the ones that I picked for this show are important because they are oftentimes the ones that turn people off from strength training, once they’ve had a little taste of it. Folks are listening to these myths. And they decide that strength training isn’t for them, because these myths make them feel pretty lousy. And they quit. And that makes me sad. Because when you stop strength training, you stopped getting the benefits. And this is more than just a vanity or aesthetics kind of thing.

It is important for our physiological functioning, right, we need strong bones and muscles. It’s important for many people for their mental health, it gives them an outlet, and it can improve your confidence. There’s just so many benefits of lifting weights beyond how you look. And of course, we talk about that a ton on this podcast. So these are the three that I see popping up quite a bit where people will unknowingly follow these myths, and then they get really just they get a little bit disappointed with lifting or they get a little bit frustrated or jaded, and they stop. So I’m here to clear some of this up.

Myth #1: You Have to Lift Daily

Alright, Myth number one you have to lift every day. This doesn’t make sense. So quite oftentimes, people will go to a local gym, or they’ll start dropping in more. And they are sometimes making up their own lifting. And, of course, there’s nuance to this, but they’ll try to lift every single day. And pretty quickly, they find if it’s especially well loaded, they’re loading, you know, using enough weight, for example, that’s challenging them, the recovery just starts to fall behind. And eventually they’re just too tired, too sore, or they are getting little injuries here and there or big injury perhaps, and they just quit. So here’s the thing. Of course, there are different ways that you can lift. For example, you could do full body workouts like the ones that come in dynamic dumbbells, or in basic barbell even which is my barbell program. You can do an upper lower body split day, for example, and spread the workout a little bit more across your week. But even then you need a proper recovery.

And if your workouts are intense, you’re lifting, you know, again, appropriately loading those workouts especially, you know, the volume is realistic, you’re going to really start to struggle to perform well in those workouts when you’re not getting enough recovery time if you’re skipping recovery days or trying to push it in lift every single day. And you know, of course there are people who are competitors, elite athletes, but even they aren’t training hard every single day.

And those people especially, oftentimes, hopefully will pay more attention or need to pay more attention to things Like their nutrition, recovery, sleep, etc, so that they can train at that higher level, but they’re still not going to the hardest level of intensity every single day, it just, it doesn’t even make sense. So you might find that you get better results, when you plan for a recovery day from lifting every other day, that’s just one example.

Include Enough Recovery Time

It doesn’t have to be every other day, or something bad’s gonna happen. But you do want to read, you do want to include enough recovery. So that could be you know, two days on one day off, and then you have your third lifting day later in the week. It could be every other day. So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, doesn’t have to be rigid.

But just think about the amount of recovery time that you’re taking from lifting now you can certainly do other active recovery things, cardio, etc. On the alternating days, it doesn’t mean you have to be completely sedentary. But just consider that the more recovered your muscles are, the better, you’re going to be able to actually execute the reps and sets you have to do when you go to the gym for your next session.

Of course, you can train with some amount of fatigue, but that varies per person. And please, if your muscles are very sore, make sure you give yourself the time to rest. So that’s the first myth is that you have to lift every single day, you’ll probably find you get better benefits when you average, somewhere between two to four strength workouts a week, what is the middle number of that three. So at least two, maybe three, maybe you’re doing going to do a lighter day and do four. So make sure you have enough time to recover.

Myth #2: You Have to Confuse Your Muscles Every Workout

Alright, Myth number two, you have to confuse your muscles in every single workout to make progress, muscle confusion. Now I understand where this concept comes from. And I understand that a lot of people don’t like to be bored in their workouts and they want to mix it up all the time. And I’ve done a whole podcast about boring workouts and how to deal with them. And the spoiler alert on that if you haven’t heard it is like sometimes a little bit of boredom and routine is okay, we shouldn’t hate our workouts or do them to punish ourselves Of course not. But expecting that our workouts are going to entertain us every single time is probably asking a bit much. We can certainly enjoy them. But they don’t have to be entertaining.

So if we want to build strength, for example, we’re going to have to progressively overload the training plan over time. Now there are multiple ways to progressively overload a training plan. But all this means in very general speak, is that we have to change up certain variables of the workout at a reasonable pace over time, so that your body continues to adapt. Now somehow, along the way that’s gotten confused with, you’ve had to confuse your muscles in every single workout and every single workout has to be wildly different. And you have to expect a brand new, novel workout every single time you lift.

And that creates some problems. First of all, it may be challenging to progress, or use progressive overload for that program, if every single day you’re doing a bunch of completely unrelated stuff. And so when we think about progression, we can do things like change the load, obviously, that’s for lifting, that’s one of the easiest ways to do that. You add more weight over time, etc. But even there, that’s going to have some kind of a ceiling to it, because I’ve been lifting for 12 years.

Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

And if that was the case, I could just keep adding weight forever, I’d be lifting, you know, deadlifting 1000 pounds, so can’t just always add load forever, which is why there are other variables that we can progress such as volume, which is the number of reps that you’re doing reps and sets, we can change the tempo. So have you worked on kind of tempo work, which is going to slow down the generally the lowing lowering or eccentric part of the lift. And that has a bunch of different potential benefits, like helping you improve your actual movement, because you’re spending more time figuring out the, you know, especially the end range of your movements, and you’re going a little bit slower, spending more time in those positions, increasing time under tension, et cetera, et cetera. And then we have things like vourvourou 80 are variation. And there are other. There are other factors here in progression.

But variation is one of the nice ways that you can mix it up or you can slowly make the variation of that movement harder. So for example, a squat to a Bulgarian split squat, how do you get from one to the other, especially if you’re newer, you don’t just generally jump to a Bulgarian split squat, because that’s going to be really a unilateral type of movement, you’re putting almost all your weight on the front leg, the back legs for balance, but it’s really more like a single leg squat. So how do you get there? Well, you don’t always just jump from one to the other. You might do goblet squats for a while or some kind of other weighted, bilateral squat variation, you then might go to a split squat and learn how to do that. And then you may go to some kind of other split squat variation, like the front foot elevated, or the rear foot elevated, which is generally also called the Bulgarian.

Add Some Variety and Novelty to Your Workouts

So again, progression variation is a way to add in variety and novelty etc. Without having to completely write a different workout every single day. And of course, if we’re looking to improve over time, we want to have enough exposure to those lifts. I hear about this a lot when people say things like, I’m frustrated because I haven’t gotten a pull up yet. And maybe they go to a gym. So the programming is done for them. And maybe there isn’t necessarily an upper body, focus on pull ups. And sure, you can increase your baseline of overhead pulling strength or general pulling strength. But sometimes the skill required for that pull up means you have to do some extra practice and maybe some drills and some grip work and all sorts of stuff.

And so I’ll ask the person, well, how often do you practice pull ups or associated, pull up accessory movements, etc. And they’re like, I don’t know, maybe once a month, well, that’s just not enough exposure, generally speaking. So when you hop around too much, if you’re if you have goals, and you are looking to increase mass or looking to increase strength, or looking to increase speed, for example, power, then it’s important that you spend enough time actually being exposed to those things so that you increase and improve. So that’s Myth number two is thinking, you have to confuse your muscles all the time.

And so again, if you’re not someone who likes to program their own workouts, which I totally understand, look for a program that is kind of matched to your goals, your needs, your equipment that you have on hand, like the time you want to spend. And that’s why I have three different lifting programs, because they’re for different types of people. But it’s okay to get a training plan, you don’t have to just make it up all on your own. Now, again, it’s fine to just move and that’s okay. But if you have specific goals, start training, not just randomly working out.

Myth #3: Your Workout Wasn’t Effective If You’re Not Sore

Okay. And then the last myth in this show, is if you’re not sore, then your workout was not very effective. This one I find to be quite insidious, because people have this belief that they have to go as hard as they can to completely wipe themselves out, and or end up very, very sore, or their workout did nothing.

And so people will end up pushing themselves, maybe even you pushing themselves too hard. And that goes back to sort of point one and point two that sometimes people will start pushing themselves to lift too much skip rest days, lift past the intensity that the program recommended because they just are worried that they’re not going to get results. They’re not there. You know, they’re not as sore like it didn’t feel like they did quote anything in the workout because it didn’t leave them in a crumpled heap on the floor next to a puke bucket or something.

It’s just it’s a it’s a little bit of a of a problem when you stop to think about like, Oh, if I’m not actually pushing myself past the point of overexertion in every workout, then it was completely useless. And that’s sometimes one of the biggest reasons I find that people quit is that they’ll either sometimes start and they jump way too quickly into especially volume, right? So they’re doing lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of reps. And this is one of the reasons why bodyweight just doing as many reps as you can isn’t always a smart way to get started, you might think, well, it’s just bodyweight. But especially when we’re talking about lower body movements because your lower body is stronger.

And I’m really like thinking about things like squats, and lunges here for bodyweight stuff. If you’re just gonna, you know, pull a workout off Pinterest and do a Pinterest challenge where it’s like 200 squats in the first day, you’re going to be incredibly sore. Especially if you haven’t done something for a while, it’s just so much volume, you’re going to create so much micro damage to your muscle fibers, you’re going to get Dom’s, which is that delayed onset muscle soreness. And to be quite frank, there’s also a risk if you really, really, really overdo it with certain muscles, especially, you could end up giving yourself something like Rhabdo, which is very serious, and we do not want to end up there.

Build Weight and Strength Over Time

So not to be alarmist. But just to say like there is a risk with going too hard, too soon, doing too much volume and too much Easton trick, lowering type movements, because that puts a lot more strain and essentially time under tension on those muscle fibers. So here’s the thing, they’re your soreness is really not a great indication of like how good the workout was. And, of course, it’s normal to get a little soreness here or there, especially when the movements are newer, and you’re not as used to them, or you’re changing to a new variation. It’s requiring maybe some anti rotation, or it’s requiring some extra balance instabilities, you’re working those small stabilizing muscles. But it’s pretty demotivating when you are incredibly sore all the time.

Or you’re just wiped out all the time. It’s very difficult to wake up two days later or the next day and say, Yeah, I think I want to go do that next workout. So sometimes you know you you have a wild hair and you do a really high volume set of exercises. And maybe you go do 150 wall balls, and you’ve really regret it for the next week, because you have dorms and then you have to do the toilet trust fall. As my friend Claudette famously told me one time, so I’ve adopted that. But let’s stop believing that if we are not completely wrecked and sore and ruined after a workout that it didn’t do any good. Let’s train more intelligently.

Of course, sometimes we may end up a little sore, mildly sore, or tired. But if you’re following a training plan, that’s well thought out, then hopefully it’s again progressing you and we just talked about that in the previous point, progressing you as wisely as possible. Now you can always take your training plan and do whatever the fuck you want with it. But generally speaking, there are reasons why certain things show up in a training plan when they show up. For example, if you’re doing dynamic dumbbells, and you haven’t been lifting in a while, you’ve taken some time off, which is totally fine.

Strength Training for Women Over 40

But you’re going to get back into it. There’s a whole prep phase for a reason it’s to get your body accustomed to these movements, again, without doing an insane amount of volume, so that you end up so sore that you’re like fuck this program, Steph’s an idiot. And I’m never gonna lift again because I feel like trash, right? So we sequence it out, for example, in prep, so that you’re getting exposure to the movement patterns, but the volume is pretty low. And we’re not adding heavy weights right out the gate.

Now, if you’re experienced, and you’ve just come off a lifting plan, that’s a totally different story. But that’s why that’s why it’s written the way it’s written. And I’m human. So I get this, there’s probably going to be some some folks out there hopefully not you but maybe who think oh, well, that first week just felt so easy. It felt like I didn’t actually do anything. So next week, I’m going to double the volume and I’m going to add a bunch of heavy weights or something like that, and and then you end up so sorry, you can’t sit on the toilet without falling backwards, you get the draft right.

So sometimes, you know, you have to think going slower, is sometimes warranted, you know, go with like progressing in a very smart way, not overdoing it. If you’re not incredibly sore, that’s fine. Just take note, you know, maybe next time or the week after, maybe you’re gonna progress to slightly heavier weights or you’re gonna increase the tension of the band and use a thicker band. I don’t know but there’s just a bunch of different ways to slice that.

But we have to stop thinking that unless a workout left us very sore very very tired, exhausted, you know wanting to throw up or completely feeling like we’ve just given every drop that It’s a bad workout. That’s just not true. Alright, so that does it for our three myths on this show. I’m sure, I’m sure there are going to be more that roll in because of this show, and people are on the boat about this. And what about that. So if you have a myth you want to share with me, and you want me to talk about on the podcast, DM it to me on Instagram.

Recap Strength Training Myths to Avoid

So the three myths where you have to lift every single day, the second, you have to confuse your muscles in every single workout and dude, wildly different exercises. And then the third one was, if you’re not sorry, your workout just didn’t do anything. So if you were listening to any of these myths, or you sort of had them in the back of your mind, it’s okay, no shame in any of that we’re all always learning. But hopefully these things help you actually, in the long run, get more benefit from your workout because they’re able to be more consistent, you’re able to show up without being extremely sore, you’re enjoying your workouts.

Again, you maybe buy back a little bit more time, and you are just not overdoing it. We don’t want you to overdo it and then quit because it was just too much. All right. On that note, make sure you head over and check out the new dynamic dumbbells program. Of course, there are other programs that I have, that might be a better fit. So if you’re not sure, at the top of the program’s page, there is a quiz button. It’ll say something like, find your best match, take the quiz. Click on that it’ll run you through some questions. Like a three questions. It’s very, very few questions, but three, two or three or four questions and it will ask you you know, what is your primary focus? Are you here for nutrition?

Well, that’s going to be a different set of programs are here for fitness, like which one best describes you? And it will spit out your best match? I don’t know is this kind of like matchmaking, maybe. But that would be kind of my recommendation for you based on sort of what you’re hoping to achieve and what you have on hand for equipment and those sorts of things. If you’re still not sure, look, send me an email if you get my my weekly newsletter. reply back to any email, y’all with me on the other side, I answer the emails, I see them all. So email me back and ask I’m more than happy to tell you my honest opinion.

And trust me when I say that I tell people all the time that you know XYZ is not necessarily the best fit for what they need. I refer out to so many of my podcast guests from the from past episodes like my referral network, I’m always referring out so look if you are not sure whether the program or any program I have is a great fit, just pop pop me an email, pop me an email, send me an email pop into my DMs asked me the question and I will get back to you in as timely a manner as I possibly can.

So I hope that was useful for you. Hopefully you learned something. If you liked this episode, or one of these things has been a bugbear for you. Then go ahead and share it out on Instagram Stories tag me I would love to see it and then amplify the message back. It really means a ton. Hit the subscribe button on your podcast app. And I will be back next week with another episode for you.

Until then, stay strong.

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Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau, bs, ma, cissn!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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