If you spend enough time in a gym, you can hear the most creative questions and mis-truths in any field, anywhere. Any personal trainer that has spent their career in a gym setting, can recite the most compelling stories of clients/members and their beliefs of what is fact. I figure I could write a best seller, just by the sheer volume of misinformation about exercise and nutrition that is conveyed through media outlets and misinformed “experts.” This is not the gym goers fault, rather this is my problem and a problem I tend to overcome through education and factual information. “OK JB what is your point?” My point is there is a lot of information out there I would consider a myth. For example, that is possible to spot reduce. Not possible, next question! Another example, I can eat what I want and still have the body of my dreams. Kinda, sorta possible but depends on genetics and other hormonal factors but for most people, not possible. “Alright enough already, what is THE myth?” The king of exercise myths, the grand puba of misinformation…Lifting weights will make a woman bulky! That’s right, after doing this as long as I have; people, in particular women still believe strength training will make them look like a bodybuilder. Ain’t going to happen!
Now, I am not naïve to think women are not strength training in record numbers. Years ago, most women would join a gym and only perform cardiovascular exercises such as biking or running on a treadmill. Although great for the heart, this alone does not create the lean, sculpted bodies women are wanting and displaying today. It was always thought that women should not lift weights because it would make them bulky and look like a man. The traditional routines would consist of high repetitions, usually 3 or 4 sets with 30-60 second rest periods. Cardio usually would precede strength training. Group fitness classes such as Body Pump or “15 minute abs” would have mostly female attendance. In some clubs you would have “Women’s Only,” areas, full of selectorized equipment and cardio.
Women are displaying incredible results from strength training but the myth still exists. Keeping all things equal, let’s tackle the reason’s ALL women should strength train.
- The Differences between Men and Women- YES! I know the DIFFERENCE but I’m not referring to our outer differences, I’m talking about what happens inside the body. As far as muscle goes; a bicep is a bicep and a glute is a glute, whether its on a man or on a female, anatomically they function the exact same. What are different are the hormonal levels that allow our biceps, glutes and all 600 some skeletal muscles to grow. You guessed it, testosterone. Loved by men, feared by women. That’s ok because men produce anywhere from 10-50 times more testosterone than women. YAHTZEE! Men can build bigger muscles than women (in most cases J). Now, does that mean women cannot build muscle, NO! It just means women cannot produce enough testosterone possible to build muscles the size of most males. Debunking the myth has begun!
- Strength- Hence the name “strength” training. Picking up heavy things will make you stronger. What does that mean for most women and men for that matter, everyday activities can become easier. Picking up that 20 lb box and placing it on a shelf 2 feet above your head all of a sudden becomes easy. Pulling dog food out of your SUV and throwing it over your shoulder to take in the house suddenly becomes a breeze. Strength training makes you stronger, period. We all could use more strength, everyone, including you!
- Body Fat- Most people reading this want to lose weight. Well actually you want to lose bodyfat. You are on a quest for a better physique, more toned arms, a tighter stomach and athletic legs. You cannot achieve that with cardio alone. You need something that packs a punch, something that creates results and gives you the body you have always wanted, you need STRENGTH training. Look at any professional woman’s body, such as Serena Williams or Jennie Finch. They strength train. They build muscle and thus reduce the amount of body fat on their body. In fact you burn calories, post workout, for up to 24-48 hours following a vigorus strength training day. You know how much post workout calorie burn you get from 30 minutes on the elliptical….ZERO! You want to keep your weight off without all the yo-yoing, start strength training.
- Strong Bones- Best way to strengthen your bones? Drink milk! WRONG! Strength train. Women are far more susceptible to osteoporosis than men. Strength training will strengthen your bones, increase bone mineral density and delay any and all effects of osteoporosis. Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density by 15 percent in six months. Have I sold you yet?
- Disease Prevention- For cardiovascular health, strength training lowers ones LDL cholesterol preventing arteries from clogging up. Also, lowers resting blood pressure and helps the body to metabolize sugars better, warding off the signs of diabetes.
- Self Esteem- The greatest benefit of strength training for a woman is the benefit of self gratification. The increased feel good hormone serotonin will allow you to feel better about yourself and have a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, this is what is about anyway, improving our bodies and minds but also improving how we feel about ourselves.
After 7 years of training and consulting with hundreds of female clients, I have found that this MYTH has been a huge road block. However, once it is proven that it is just that, a myth the results start to come. There is no magic formula to results and there is no shortcut on the road to the body of your dreams. Vigorous strength training workouts followed by interval training cardiovascular work, combined with sound nutritional habits and you have the formula for success, with results written all over it. Muscle=GOOD