Wanting to find new ways to get fit and strong, but feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting information and ads that litter your social media? It can seem like a daunting task to finally make the leap to get into better shape. But getting a stronger, leaner, healthier body can be made easier if you know the proper way to do it.
There are lots of pseudo-facts about weight training for women that lead to many women worrying that they’ll get “bulky” or “too big”. We’re about to debunk these strength training myths once and for all. It can seem intimidating when you’re first heading into the gym to begin your regimen. So let’s break through your worries and concerns by dunking the myths.
Strength Training Myths Debunked
Strength Training Myth #1: Women Shouldn’t Lift Heavy Weights Because They’ll Get Bulky
This is one myth about weight training for women that we are all too happy to put to rest. This myth about weight training for women has a robust and long history, but it is undeniably untrue. Weight lifters who are bulky are that size because of thousands of hours of training, eating specific diets that are designed to help gain bulk, and regimens of supplements that sometimes even include testosterone.
When you lift heavy objects, your muscles get stronger and denser. But stronger doesn’t always equal bigger. Women’s bodies naturally create very little testosterone, only about 10% of what a man produces, which helps keep the risk of the dreaded bulk down. For women, strength training tones the muscles and raises their metabolism. With the right training, muscles will show more definition over time without bulking up.
Further, studies have shown that training with heavier weights can actually help you lose weight! In addition, weight training for women can also increase bone density and prevent muscle loss in postmenopausal women. Lifting weights can have a positive impact on your health now and for years to come—which is enough to put this strength training myth to rest once and for all.
Strength Training Myth #2: You Can Reduce Fat in Specific Areas
Many women believe that they can weight train in certain areas to help reduce fat in just that one section of the body.
Our bodies cannot reduce fat in specific, localized areas. Our bodies are already genetically predisposed to store fat in particular areas in a certain order. When the body does start to lose weight, it will also lose fat in a certain order as well. When women weight train to target specific areas (like doing 100 crunches every day to get rid of stomach fat), it doesn’t actually expedite losing fat in that particular area.
For fat to disappear all over the body, some simple things need to happen:
- Eat Better. Choosing leaner foods with less saturated fat and sugars, and focusing on lean proteins and more whole vegetables, is the best thing you can do to improve your eating habits. Your diet will be responsible for 80-90 percent of your fat loss.
- Take the Right Supplements. Eating the right types of healthy meals is great, but supplementing them with the right vitamins and nutrients is even better. Supplementing your diet with a beneficial whey protein powder for muscle gain or energizing pre-workout drinks can make all the difference in your energy level and your recovery time in between workouts, which helps you get back to the gym faster.
- Strength Train. The key with strength training for women is doing big compound movements that recruit lots of muscles to do the work, thereby making your body break down and then rebuild lots of muscle, which requires more calories burned—even after you’re done working out! Strength training utilizes numerous muscles and therefore burns extra calories. So getting on a smart program to develop strong, lean muscles is one of the best things you can do for your overall strength, and muscle to fat ratio.
Strength Training Myth # 3: To Lose Weight You Need to Do Lots of Cardio
If you happen to love to run, bicycle, or even jazzercise, that’s fantastic! But there is a more efficient way to lose weight and get fit.
Strength training for women will produce a more efficient form of weight loss than the same amount of cardio workout. When we strength train, our muscles go through a process of breaking down and then begin the process of rebuilding over the next 24 to 48 hours. While your body is working, it requires more calories and energy; this is often referred to as the “afterburn effect”. This also means your metabolism operates at a faster pace even when you are at rest after a workout. It’s not necessary to run a marathon or bicycle a hundred miles to lose weight. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s actually a good idea to build up those muscles if you’re looking to lose weight. However, we’re always up for a different cardio workout to spice up the game.
Strength Training Myth #4: One Plan Will Work for Every Woman
Weight training for women is as varied as there are types of women looking to get into shape. This is great news because it means there are many different ways to get a stronger and healthier body!
Strength training myths can lead to getting discouraged when trying a new routine, so remember to keep it varied and do things that you like. Your workout doesn’t have to be given by a boot camp coach at the most expensive gym in town. It can be as simple and varied as:
- Carrying Your Groceries to Your Car
- Doing Bodyweight Exercises
- Carrying Your Dog
- Carrying Your Kids
- Swinging Kettlebells
The good news about our bodies being different is that even if something doesn’t work for you, you can try something else. Just remember to track your results so you can learn to develop a strong mind/body awareness as you continue to get stronger.
No matter what, the benefits of strength training as a woman go far beyond the gym and can help improve overall health, reducing your risk of diseases including osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
Strength Training Myth #5: Women Who Are Older Shouldn’t Strength Train
There is a false belief that as women get older (and after menopause especially), they shouldn’t strength train. This is another strength training myth that is anything but true.
After women go into menopause, the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis increases, and women tend to shy away from weight training for fear of injury; however, this is actually the most ideal time for weight training for women. For postmenopausal women, it’s especially important to help keep up bone density, mass, and strength. With the right program and guidance, older women should do strength training that helps keep them strong and healthy and prevent fractures.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on weight training for women, get out there and have fun strengthening your body! It’s the only one you’ve got, and there are so many incredible ways to get stronger and healthier to live a more enriched life.