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Fact or Fiction Answers to Weight Training Questions

By Kimberly Duke, 

Core Performance Fitness

Kim Duke, personal trainer

As a personal trainer, it is my job to insure that I provide safe and effective workouts for every client who trains under me.  Fitness levels will vary, but the facts will remain the same.  Let’s look at a couple Facts vs. Fiction Weight training questions to understand what I mean.


You should never lock out the joints on extension.

Partly true. This refers to the act of straightening the legs or elbows during the extension part of an exercise such as the leg press, bench press or overhead press. The reasoning is that joints can be overextended resulting in injury.

While you can read this recommendation on many general fitness sites, you see it less on the more professional bodybuilding, powerlifting and Olympic lifting sources. The reason is that in exercises like the overhead press and specialist forms such as the snatch and clean and jerk, and the bench press, the arms are required to be locked out for good form and also exercise completion in competition.

On the other hand, for beginners, until form, strength and joint conditioning advances, the advice to not explosively lock out joints seems to be fair advice. However, the joints are not going to suddenly explode if the arms or legs are straightened under load.


Cardio workouts will make you lose muscle.

False — up to a point. This is a matter of quantity and quality. Three of four cardio sessions a week of about 50 minutes duration will do wonders for your heart and lungs — and managed correctly will not affect a muscle building program. If you are training for a marathon though, don’t expect to be able to build muscle bulk as well.


Pulldowns or presses behind the neck are dangerous.

Partly true. With the shoulder joint externally rotated, pulling or pushing behind the head with the joint in rearward rotation is easier for some than others because of shoulder flexibility and natural biomechanical structure. The rotator cuff complex of muscles and tendons that controls the shoulder joint may not take kindly to this type of exercise.


Leg (knee) extensions will damage your knees.

Mostly not true. The leg extension machine is not favored by some trainers because the particular movement of the kneecap in relation to the tibia and femur, the lower and upper leg bones, may cause tendonitis and ligament damage according to this theory.

My view is that this is another ‘absolutist’ position similar to ‘you should never lock out the joints’. I like to keep leg extension weights low enough to allow, say, 8-12 repetitions but nowhere near ‘failure’, which is the point where you really struggle to perform the movement. A personal best or 1RM should never be attempted on the leg extension machine unless you are really sure of your capabilities. Go easy with the weight on this exercise and stop if pain is felt.


Leg presses may damage the vertebral discs 

in the back. 

Mostly not true. See the response above to leg extensions. A similar approach applies to leg presses. Don’t try to push too heavy. As soon as you feel extraordinary pressure in the lower back, lighten up the weight and stop if pain is felt.

There are many other fitness facts be explored.  When in doubt, ask a professional for advice.  Knowledge is empowering and an injury free workout will be the best way to obtain any and all of your fitness goals!is one of them.

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