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If you don't know the benefits of lifting weights, you might, like many people, choose cardio instead. Maybe this is because you've been told that lifting weights only builds muscle. Although lifting weights does help you build muscle, it also has many other benefits that are often overlooked by those looking to lose weight or build lean muscle. We're debunking the most popular myths with six very real benefits of lifting weights.

Myth: If I'm a woman and I only lift weights I'll bulk up and lose my femininity.

Fact: This is one of the biggest concerns for women, but what they may not know is that lifting weights doesn't just mean getting massive. Meal prepping a low carb diet and maintaining a healthy caloric intake (without overeating) will allow muscles to grow to healthy and normal levels that promotes an increase in metabolism. For men as well, this leads to weight loss and lean muscle gain.

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Myth: It's best to focus on one muscle group a day.

Fact: If you're hearing that it's “back day" or “leg day" in the locker room, then you're probably overhearing the conversations of bodybuilders or dedicated lifters. High intensity interval training and circuit training are great ways to promote full body workouts. These types of training increase aerobic capacity, burn plenty of calories, and improve recovery time. Varying your workouts can help you see overall results sooner without focusing on just one area of your body.

Myth: Weightlifting is bad for your joints.

Fact: Not only is this wrong, but it's actually the complete opposite. The increase of bone strength is one of the many benefits of lifting weights. Regular weight lifting strengthens both muscles and bones at the same time, which increases bone density, thus reducing the risks of fracture and osteoporosis. Since osteoporosis is also more common in women, this is another great reason for women to starting reaping the benefits of lifting weights.

Myth: Weight machines are more effective than free weights.

Fact: Not exactly! While weight machines only isolate muscles and force the body to move in a single direction. Lifting free weights allows you to use a greater range of motion and thus more muscles, resulting in greater strength gains. Bodyweight exercises are just as effective as free weights and an awesome alternative to obtain the benefits of lifting weights at home.

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Myth: Weightlifting decreases your flexibility.

Fact: Wrong. What actually decreases flexibility, and could increase the chance of an injury, is not stretching. If weightlifting is done correctly, it has the potential to increase your flexibility with a range of motion exercises. Resistance training is one of the best ways to tone and increase flexibility at the same time. Try adding a TRX band workout at your next gym session.

Myth: If I lift weights and burn more calories, I can eat anything I want.

Fact: One can dream. Although you burn way more calories lifting weights, it doesn't mean that food is free game. If you're focused on losing weight or gaining muscle, meal prepping is the way to go. (Check out our How to Meal Prep Guides and Meal Prep Sundays Recipes for inspiration.) One of the most important things to remember is that you just won't get the full benefits of lifting weights if you don't take care of ALL of your body. A meal management bag with all of your prepped foods is the best way to achieve gains inside and out.

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With all the benefits of lifting weights, it's no surprise that more and more people are choosing to get fit with weights. Strong is the new skinny for men and women alike, as we've touched on before in The Power of Women Who Lift. Get even more inspired with the empowering tales in our Fitness Transformations Series, and find the right meal management bag, gym tote, and gym backpack for your healthy lifestyle at 6 Pack Fitness!

Last image courtesy of @fitwinesnob.