Common myths about women and weight training

myth-image1Lift Like a man but look like a goddess!

Most women spend much of their time at the gym on cardiovascular exercise, perhaps due to poor coaching or a general fear of doing new things in the gym.   There are compelling arguments of weight training for women, not only for strength gain but for fat loss and improved health.   Still, the number of women who take this recommendation for fear of bulking out is still low.  Whatever your reasons for avoiding weights, if you are a women here are some reasons why you should make resistance training your top priority.

Myth 1: Resistance Training Will Make You Bulky.

myth-image2Truth: You Will Lose Body Fat.

Strength training helps reduce body fat and increase lean weight.   There might be a slight increase in overall weight because lean body mass weighs more than fat. As for gaining muscle bulk this will usually only happen if you have a genetic predisposition to build muscle and for most women this is not a problem. Studies have shown that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. Muscle burns more calories when resting and therefore your metabolism will be enhanced. Just 2 pounds of muscle can mean the equivalent of an extra 50 calories being burnt a day. This also highlights the obsession of losing weight for a number of people. Losing fat should be a priority while maintaining and enhancing lean muscle mass.

Myth 2: Women should use different training methods to men.

myth-image3Truth: When it comes to weight training there should be very little difference.

Often programmes for females focus on “problem” areas such as the back of the arms or the bottom. This is an inefficient method of training as it does not build a balanced physique and only gives a local fatigue to the muscle, it won’t tone the muscle (all muscles are “toned” it’s the body fat covering them that’s the problem).

Programmes should be based around squat and deadlift movements, single leg exercises, push ups and pull ups (modified if necessary depending upon fitness level). Initially mastering your body weight is vital and this should be the key for most beginners to resistance training.

Myth 3: Women should avoid high-intensity or high-load training.

myth-image4Truth: This type of training can be the most effective for strength and fat loss.

Intensity is the driving force for most training programmes as this will dictate future adaptations. Women are often encouraged to use limited resistance, such as light dumbbells, in their strength exercises. Low or insubstantial training loads below those necessary for physiological adaptations are pointless for achieving progression and long term results. Most people start to plateau after six weeks- this is the time that intensity changes can invoke more physiological changes be it for strength or fat loss.

Hannah Payne
About the author

Hannah developed a passion for fitness from a very young age which led her to compete in a wide range of sports including netball and athletics, where she trained and competed for several years. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2009 with a Degree in Health, Exercise & Nutrition, during which she gained experience in the fitness testing of elite athletes including Cyclists and Triathletes.

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