For as long as I can remember women have been spending countless hours on the treadmill and elliptical, chasing after what they call a “toned” body. Or completing high rep/low weight workouts, hoping to blast arm fat and shrink 2 sizes in 2 weeks.
Women have been told that if we lift weights we will become bulky or manly looking. Who comes up with this stuff? I mean really, who is in charge of deciding what a toned body looks like? And since when does being strong and confident make you manly?
As a personal trainer and lover of heavy lifting, it’s painful to know how many women are misinformed about the benefits of lifting.
Ladies, it’s not your fault you’re misinformed. You can’t go into a store without seeing 5 or 6 different magazines promoting the new fat blasting workouts for your stomach. And don’t even get me started about all the people and ads on social media pushing fad diets and fat fighters.
I’m not surprised that many of you are confused about how to achieve a leaner body. So with all that being said, let’s talk about some of the common myths when it comes to women and strength training!
Women only need to do cardio to become toned.
First of all, “toned” isn’t a real thing so let’s get you all use to saying the term lean. What you are looking for is a lean & muscular body. That’s right, I said muscular… But I will tell you right now the women on the cover of Oxygen Magazine don’t look that way by only doing cardio! If you only do cardio, your muscle and fat will be burned for fuel (leaving you with no booty or “toned” arms you desire). Many studies have shown that women who do resistance training along with cardio are stronger and LEANER than women that do not!
Women will become bulky or manly looking if they lift weights.
I won’t say that this is impossible because that would be disrespectful to the women of the bodybuilding world that bust their butts to achieve that amount of muscle mass. So let’s clear a few things up about this myth that seem to be scaring women out of weight room.
Achieving a body resembling that of a body builder is extremely hard for women because of testosterone levels. Women cannot naturally produce as much testosterone as males, which should assure you that you won’t gain huge amounts of muscle mass by picking up a barbell. What picking up the barbell will do (along with proper nutrition, of course) is help you achieve a leaner physique, not a bulkier one. Muscles respond to resistance training, if the resistance is to light there will be no reason for your body to change. So what about those women who do have large amounts of muscle mass? Well, they don’t look like that by chance. A lot of these women use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) to achieve that degree of muscle definition, along with good genetics, strict eating routine and of course a killer work ethic. It can take years for a women to accomplish that look. So don’t’ be afraid to lift, and lift heavy!
Weight training will make you tight and muscle bound.
A lot of people believe that you will lose flexibility if you start lifting weights but that’s actually not that case. If you perform all exercises through their full range of motion, your flexibility will increase. Exercises such as flys, stiff leg deadlifts, DB press and chin ups stretch the muscle in the bottom range of movement. Therefore, if you perform these exercises correctly your stretching capabilities will increase! Another great reason to lift!
Women should use machines not free weights.
Weight machines isolate muscles and force your body to move in a single plane of motion, both can limit your range of motion and results. Free weights have been shown to recruit more muscles and can result in great strength gains. Ladies, this is your lifetime pass into the free weight room, USE IT!!!
Weight lifting is bad for your joints.
It’s a common misunderstanding that weightlifting puts a harmful load on the joints. It actually builds muscles that help absorb shock and protect joints, if done correctly. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found when people suffering from knee joint pain performed weight bearing exercises, they experienced a 43% increase reduction in pain after 4 months. Assuming you are performing the exercises with proper form, you should greatly improve your joint health.
I could go on forever with all the different reasons people tell women not to lift. The bottom line is we all want to be healthy & strong so your body needs a balanced training regimen. I am not suggesting that you cut out your time on the treadmill completely. I’m just suggesting that if you want the most “bang for your buck” you should consider picking up those weights and doing some circuits! You will be surprised how much your body can transform in just a few weeks not only from the outside but internally as well. There is no better feeling than completing a workout with some heavy ass weights! You feel like the hulk but look like superwoman.
So ladies, please LIFT!!!!!
P.S. Below is a link with an article written by one of my favorite athletes Pauline Nordin. She’s a total badass and doesn’t sugar coat anything… it should give you a good laugh!