Why are there so many negative misconceptions about women lifting weights? There is a myriad of misconstrued information about what exactly happens when women start picking up some iron. Women who avoid lifting weights have admitted they think they will become bulky, large and manly. These feelings stem from repressive societal standards that have propelled women into seemingly less aggressive activities like yoga or Pilates, further enforcing the societal pressure that women are meant to be dainty and super feminine. However, times are changing and allowing women to truly break free from so many stifling gender roles. To combat that, here are seven myths about weight lifting that must be debunked.
Myth 1: You will get bulky from lifting weights.
Alright, ladies. At some point this has crossed your mind; however, this myth couldn’t be any more inaccurate. It takes years for competitive bodybuilders to put on the size and mass they desire. This means that even if you start hitting the gym and lifting three, four or even five times a week, you are not going to wake up being some huge bulky, muscular she-hulk version of yourself. The human body simply doesn’t work that way and the biochemistry of each individual’s body comes into effect. Yes, some people are genetically predisposed to gain more muscle quicker and easier than others. Relate this to how every individual carries fat differently. Some women have stubborn love-handles, and others have very large thighs, but small waists. With this in mind, please take note that women who train very hard to achieve a muscular look, have not done so over night. It takes years and years and years of disciplined weight training and intensive dieting. Women cannot gain the muscle size that men can, because they do not have the same levels of testosterone. This can only be achieved through taking anabolic steroids.
Myth 2: Women need to do more cardio and men should do more weight training.
This is another frustrating myth that must be disparaged. Cardio is performed by individuals that want to lose body fat. This applies to both men and women. Cardio is a very basic tool that can be implemented when an individual wants to lose weight. Therefore, this, of course, applies to weight training. If an individual wants to get stronger and add muscle mass to sculpt their ideal physique, then weight training is the answer. And that’s not just for men. This debunks the unspoken “rule” that women are the ones that have to be doing cardio.
Myth 3: Lifting weights cause women to look super masculine.
This is incredibly false. Weight training can sculpt a woman’s body into a lean, strong and sexy physique. The cool thing about resistance training is that you can achieve your desired physique dependent upon the frequency and intensity of your training. These women below all lift weights, but they have achieved their own ideal physique. Their training is all very different, yet they all are lifting weights. And looking badass while doing it.
Myth 4: Cardio burns more fat, so I shouldn’t bother weight training anyway.
This is not necessarily true. If you hop on a treadmill and run for half an hour at a pretty average pace, you can burn around 300-400 calories. However, once you get off of the treadmill, your body is no longer burning calories. It is at rest. The opposite happens when an individual is resistance training or performing high intensity interval training. Both these methods of training cause an “afterburn” affect, which means while at rest, your body will burn more calories. This is approach is called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC). There is a direct correlation between the intensity of a workout and the number of calories burned after that workout. There are a multitude of studies that have shown how lifting weights can maximize the afterburn effect. Point blank, doing thirty minutes on the elliptical while barely breaking a sweat is not putting your body into that arena.
Myth 5: If I lift weights, I will definitely injure myself.
Everyone starts somewhere. If you have never lifted weights in your lifetime, and you are not sure where to turn, seek out a trainer. Ask a buddy that frequents the gym to show you some beginner routines. Do your research, and be smart. This will prevent you from doing a complicated exercise too soon, or from using too much weight that may put you at an immediate risk. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. If an exercise hurts or feels strange, stop and take a step back. The whole “no pain, no game” mantra is quite dangerous. Do not lift with your ego. If the weight feels too heavy, understand that it is perfectly okay to back off and reduce the weight. Stay in tune with what your body tells you.
Myth 6: If I stop lifting weights my muscle will turn into fat.
This myth has been completely debunked by science and human physiology. Hypertrophy refers to the growth of muscle and atrophy refers to the decrease of muscle. If you stop lifting weights, and your diet returns to junk food, sugary drinks and an excess of overall calories, then you will gain fat. Consequently, because you have stopped lifting weights your muscles will atrophy. This may seem like your muscle has somehow turned to fat but that is false. If you were to continue eating a balanced diet within your normal caloric intake yet stopped lifting weights, in time your muscles would atrophy but your body fat would not increase because your diet is still routine. Therefore, the misconception of muscle tuning to fat is truly nonsense. Muscle tissues cannot change into adipose tissue. The muscle fibers can only shrink or grow.
Myth 7: Weight lifting is boring and reaps little benefits.
Weight training is challenging, yet oh-so rewarding. When women see first hand how strong they start becoming, it creates self-confidence. Weight training empowers women to feel strong, capable and victorious. Achieving results is also incredibly exciting. Seeing your physique change over time is an electrifying reward for all the hard work you have put in. To start at a place where you once could barely do certain exercises to make it where you are completing those same exercises with ease is a massively empowering feeling. Instead of the ten-pound dumbbells now you use the twenty-five pounders to rock your shoulder presses. Increasing strength, stamina, endurance and muscle mass are all fantastic goals. Women fall prey to osteoporosis, even in their young adult years. Resistance training combats osteoporosis by increasing bone density. The benefits of weight training also transcends outside of the gym and into your day-to-day life. Your confidence will increase when interacting with others. You will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment towards how your body looks. You will feel more alert and much healthier, handle stress easier, and your overall mood will be exceptionally better.
There are so many benefits to weight lifting that are often overlooked because of the myths and stereotypes surrounding the activity. But to be a healthier person, weight lifting is definitely a good choice. Do good for yourself and pick up some weights. You won’t regret it.
All photos used in this article are courtesy of Google Images and the linked weight lifter’s websites/Instagrams.