You’ll get bulky. It’ll make you manly. You just need to tone. The treadmill is your friend.
These are all things women have heard time and again when they ask about lifting weights. Well, they are wrong. In fact, when done correctly, safely, and systematically, lifting weights has been shown to decrease body fat, improve bone strength and improve athletic performance all without adding “manly bulk” to a woman. Well, it’s time to seriously debunk the five biggest myths surround women and iron:
Myth #1: You’ll Get Bulky.
The simple answer is no. Of course, if you lift heavy, pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories than you use in a day, you might. But, what is more likely to come from lifting weights is that you’ll get stronger. Your muscles will get denser (the scale may even start to show a higher number), but you will not look manly. Look at most any woman competing on American Ninja Warrior or doing a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race. They look lean. They look strong. They look healthy and athletic. What they do not look like is a man. In fact, if you eat healthily and lift weights you will get that “toned” look you set out for in less time than just walking on the treadmill because that new stronger, denser muscle burns more calories at rest making you a fat-burning machine.
Myth #2: Use Light Weights for High Reps.
While there is a place for lower resistance in a strength training program, it shouldn’t be all you do. In fact, it
shouldn’t even be what you do most often. When a woman does 15, 20, 30 or more reps with a light weight it will help muscular endurance and may even begin to take your workout from anaerobic to aerobic, but it will do little to help you achieve a lean, healthy, strong body and mind.
Myth #3: Yoga and Meditation are Mind-Body Exercises.
While it is technically true that yoga and other practices make up the mind-body category (and If you take a close look, most of them are strength training in nature), lifting weights can help your body make a mind-body connection. This entails focusing on the movement, the feel of the muscle and most importantly the form you are using. Beyond that, lifting heavy weights can reduce stress and boost self-esteem as you become stronger and leaner.
Myth #4: Weight Training Makes You Less Flexible
People typically turn to yoga, Pilates and stretching programs to increase flexibility, and they work. But too often, women shy away from weight lifting out of fear of getting “tight.” Unfortunately, the only thing getting tight from weightlifting is are your abs. While we still recommend stretching after an activity (do a dynamic warm-up prior—don’t know what that is? Ask a trainer) weight lifting has been shown to increase flexibility in sedentary women in as short as eight weeks. Don’t believe us? Find the study here.
Myth #5: You’ll Get Hurt Lifting Heavy Weights
Sure, there’s a risk of getting hurt while lifting weights. But, then again, you can trip coming down the stairs or walking on the treadmill at a full incline while reading a book. When done correctly, strength training has been shown to reduce back pain while also lowering risk of diabetes and other diseases. And for women, there is an additional benefit of lifting heavy weights as it is also improves bone density and wards off osteoporosis as they age.
There you have it. Five of the most common myths busted. So, why do you want to get stronger?