In regards to strength training for women there are so many myths floating around it’s not even funny. These myths make it so hard for any woman to know exactly what to do when it comes to exercise, in particular strength training, to get the best results. This is when confusion and disappointment sets in, as their goals are not achieved.
In part 1 of myths of strength training for women we look at the following four topics:
• Strength training will make you bulk up
• High repetitions, low weight will work
• Strength training for women should be different to men
• You can spot reduce fat
There is a lot of information out their which is not fact at all and leads women in all sorts of directions. Here, we answer all those myths to set you back on track. Strength training is actually pretty straight forward if you know the research backed facts about strength training and get rid of all the false information.
Myth 1: Strength training will make you bulk up
We hear this time and time again; no you will not bulk up and become the muscly hulk that you think weight or strength training will cause you to become. There are specific reasons why females cannot do this and if they are, then they must be taking something to cause them to look that way, it is just not a natural phenomenon amongst females.
So, why is it that females cannot bulk up like our male counterparts? Well, females do not have the testosterone levels that males do. Sometimes, males do not even have the amount of testosterone needed to develop that hulk looking physique we know you are all thinking about.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for the increase in muscle size and mass in males and as females we only have the smallest amount of this hormone. The female sex hormone is estrogen, which we have heightened levels of and controls the feminine aspects of our bodies, which ensures a lean and toned physique rather than excessively large muscles. Yes we will get strong, but not big!
Lightweights induce muscular endurance where as heavy weights will induce muscular strength, which causes your muscles to get stronger and not necessarily bigger. The stronger your muscles, the higher your metabolism and thus the more calories they will burn. The fat layered on top of your muscles will be burned and reveal your muscles to give you that ‘toned’ look. A pound of muscle tissue takes up less room in your body than a pound of fat tissue does, an of course it is more metabolically active (think calorie furnace) than fat too!
Remember ladies; strength training is great for that lean toned look and you will definitely not become bulky and too muscly. All toned females will participate in some form of strength training to allow their bodies to develop that way. If you too want to get lean and toned, start strength training today!
Myth 2: High repetitions, lightweights will work
Many ladies think that lifting heavy weights will not allow them to loose weight or body fat, rather light weights, low sets with high repetitions is what has been drilled into everyone. Even some personal trainers believe this, which according to research is not right. By strength training with lightweights for high repetitions you are only training your muscles for endurance and not building your muscles up for strength. Strength is where the calories are burned, as you need more muscle to do so. Heavy weight for low repetitions with build new muscle tissue and increase strength.
Lifting heavy weights for lower repetitions and high sets is much better. As we have mentioned, heavy weights are what will build and develop your muscles to be stronger and more efficient. This means you will have greater muscle mass, higher metabolism, greater capacity for burning calories during and post workout and thus reduce body fat all at the same time. The leaner someone is, the higher their metabolism. Essentially, building and strengthening muscle is important for your metabolism, which will help regulate and manage your weight.
So change your ways and stop fretting about walking past the cardio section and into the weights room. Try to opt for heavy weights not light; unless you are training your muscle t endure something or a long period of time the lightweights are not doing you any good in achieving your weight and fat loss goals. Even if you are a little older, lifting heavy relative to the maximum amount of weight you can lift for one repetition will get you to where you need to be in regards to managing your weight. A little more muscle wont hurt; in fact it will keep you lean, strong and more able to participate in the things you love for longer as you get older! Not a bad reason to lift heavier than usual.
Myth 3: Strength training for women should be different to Men
Again, the answer is no. There is no reason as to why female’s strength training should be any different to males. That ladies, is a definite myth. Yes, we may not have the ability to lift as much in some cases but it does not mean the exercises we use to strengthen and build our muscles should be any different. Think lunges, squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups and many more. Men can do these and so can women. While males will quite possibly do these types of exercises to get bigger muscles, females can do them too but instead develop lean, dense, tight and toned muscles to get that look most females are looking for.
Again, those sex hormones testosterone and estrogen play a big role in how the male and female body responds to strength exercises. Yes there are women specific programs, but that is only to do with the small programing differences needed for women to get he best results more efficiently, not necessarily in the types of exercises.
It is all about the woman’s goals whilst training in the gym, doing heavy lifts may be appropriate for eth female involved and if it is the best way to achieve that goal then by all means she should lift heavy and utilise the same exercises that a man might. Its not about your sex or gender, it is about your goals. Women have just as much of a right as men do to be in the weights rooms. Unfortunately it is common for men to dominate this area yet so many women can benefit from the effects of strength training. So, move over guys the ladies are coming through!
Myth 4: You can spot reduce fat
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately not ladies, spot reducing is impossible. Fat will deposit where it wants to deposit and all you can do is eat and exercise correctly and hope that the fat from those areas will be burnt, as fat storage around the body is genetically predisposed. Your genetics may be programed to store fat in certain areas first and thus when loosing fat, come off other areas first, say arms, then legs, them stomach, then chest and then your bottom. But everyone is different and this order of where fat is lost or gained first varies. No amount of targeted exercise will alter how your fat disappears.
What you can do to help yourself is eat well and strength train to increase muscular toning and reduce fat by recruiting lots of muscles and burning more calories.
Your diet and eating habits contribute 80 – 90% of your fat loss and thus focusing on what you are eating an when if an important factor. In combination with strength training you will see the best results.
By increasing your muscle mass you will have a leaner more toned looking physique in the particular areas you’re looking to target. With more muscle comes an increased metabolism, which will influence the burning of fat, which can aid in reducing whole body fat percentage, but not target specific areas. The best types of exercises to induce this effect are compound exercise. Compound exercises are those that utilise the whole body as they activate major muscle groups as well as the smaller stabilizing muscles.
Four common myths on strength training for women, BUSTED! Ditch the myths and follow the facts, and you should notice a difference in how your body responds. Make sure you read part two of myths of strength training for women answered to find out more on what other information you have been told that is not fact but fiction and ruining your success.