Myths About Women and Weightlifting

April 19, 2015

Are you a woman looking to get healthy and fit? There are hundreds of magazines and internet sites dedicated to offering you advice on the matter. If you’re finding yourself disappointed by the progress you’re making even though you’re following their “instructions”, maybe it’s because they weren’t all that good to begin with. Let’s break down a few of the common myths women specifically run into when it comes to working out and losing weight:

Myth #1: You can spot reduce those problem areas – That stubborn belly fat is not going to go away from doing crunches all day. Bicep curls alone will not banish those “bat wings.” Only decreasing your overall body fat percentage will do that. And everyone loses (or gains) weight in different areas and in different orders. Your friend might lose it in her belly right off the bat, but you might lose the weight in your legs first, then your arms, then your butt, and then finally your belly. No amount of targeting will change this order. So don’t be discouraged if you find yourself losing weight in certain places but not in others.

Myth #2: Only cardio equals weight loss – From treadmills/ellipticals to jazzercise/zumba, we are often told that the only way to really lose weight is to get a lot of cardio into the workout. But if it’s not your thing, you don’t have to do it. Strength training, even if it’s just body weight exercises, is also helpful in reversing unhealthy factors that contribute to heart disease – perhaps even more so. But it’s also more effective in weight loss, as the after-workout process of your body having to rebuild muscle burns more calories. Your metabolism works faster longer after a workout.

Speaking of Strength Training…

Myth #3 – Don’t lift anything heavy or you’ll get “bulky” – It takes a conscious effort to look like those female fitness models on the covers of magazines with the prominent abdominals and thighs that look like they could crush a man’s skull. Simply lifting heavy weights will make your muscles stronger (because they have to rebuild themselves after that workout) but that doesn’t mean that they’ll actually get all that BIGGER. Strength training with a proper diet will actually have you looking leaner.

Myth #3.5 – Don’t lift anything heavy post-menopause or you’ll injure yourself – On a related note, strength training for older women is just as important because it helps maintain bone strength and muscle mass. And if you don’t maintain those you are at a higher risk of injury due to, for example, osteoporosis. You are not too old to start lifting.

Myth #4 – You’re a girl, so don’t train like a man – While there are biological differences between the sexes (hormones, average fat and muscle distribution, etc.) there is no reason why women can’t utilize the squat rack and free weights in a similar vein that men do. I have female clients who deadlift more than many of the guys. A woman can use a unisex exercise regimen but achieve her own desired results – training “like a man” will not make you look like one.

Myth #5 – A calorie is a calorie, so just eat less to lose weight – First off, eating too few calories in a day will put your body into starvation mode, which means it will hold on to that fat you’re trying to shed even harder. And everyone processes calories differently, but in general there are foods that are better for you than others. Some calories help your body rebuild muscle; some calories spike your blood sugar levels. Just because something says “Fat Free” on the label doesn’t mean it is any better for you. You need to eat enough to provide your body with the energy it needs to function efficiently – and it needs to be the right things. That isn’t to say you can never do more than eye that piece of chocolate cake – often outright restrictions are more hurtful in the long run – you just need to think about the big picture of what you’re using to fuel your body.

Pasadena Personal Trainer Ron Le Fitness
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