Facts & Myths
Since the 1950's women have been strength training to aid in their sporting performance. Yet, unfortunately, misconceptions about weight training haven't grown old with the times. Typically, women shy away from such a valuable exercise because they are afraid of bulking up or getting 'manly.' Well, let's explore the truth below, and see what's really going on, ladies!
Myth #1: 'I'm going to get big and bulky like Hulk Hogan!'
Ladies, you will not bulk up, plain and simple. And no, big manly muscles will not develop over time; in fact, the female body builders you see on television typically train for four hours a day while consuming anabolic steroids over the course of several years. Hey, even men can't bulk up unless they take supplements! The reality: You will gain a better body composition! That is, your ratio of fat mass to lean muscle mass will start favoring that muscle mass. For instance, one study of young women who were weight training an average 3 days per week over the course of eight weeks lost about 3.5 pounds of fat mass and gained around 1.75 pounds of lean, beautiful muscle.
Myth #2: 'I'll gain weight and look fat!'
Actually, muscle is denser than fat mass, so it's going to take up less space in your body. While pound for pound it may 'weigh' slightly more than fat, the reality is that you will not in the least bit look larger, fatter, or bigger. In fact, you will look leaner. Your pants size will decrease in inches as will other areas of your body. You see, weight is only a number, and you can't count on that number as a true representation of what you will look like. More accurately, you should be looking at inches lost to represent body transformation. Weight lifting will certainly help with this. Moreover, muscle gain balances in ratio to fat loss.
Myth #3: 'Pilates and Yoga are just as good as Strength Training.'
This isn't quite accurate. While the benefits of yoga and strength training are great, strength training wins the prize. In terms of degree, weight training is definitely the supreme method for building muscular strength. Pilates and Yoga focus on very controlled movements that depend on body weight to build muscle. As well, they are wonderful exercises to aid in meditation and relaxation. However, incorporating them into your exercise routine instead of strength training isn't a great idea. They should be considered an enhancement rather than a replacement.
Myth #4: 'I will have to eat more protein when I weight train.'
The fact is the typical American eats far more protein in a day than they should. In fact, if you make a fist with your hand, you will be viewing a good size portion of meat. Yet, most restaurants serve around three times the size of that portion. Moreover, only power athletes really need to consume extra protein in a day, and this is a minimal increase at that.
Myth #5: 'Weight training is too expensive and time consuming.'
First, if you have time to watch the O.C. or any popular weekly program, than you have time for a few weekly strength training sessions. It's all about priorities, ladies. And in the long run, the benefits of a better body will outweigh some program you can't even remember. Depending on the type of strength training you do on a typical day, you'll only need 20 minutes to an hour out of your 24-hour day. Also, weight training can fit into any budget. Just check out your local sporting goods store for a variety of free weights at decent prices. Similarly, it may be a good idea to check out Google for better deals on free weights. Comparing prices is always consumer savvy, and you may be able to find some smashing closeouts on the ever popular ebay. Moreover, if you're a student you should check out your gymnasium facilities because student gyms are often free or memberships are offered at next to nothing prices. As for joining a gym, make sure to ask for an initial trial, to see whether it suits your personal needs and goals. Another helpful tip is to try to find a deal depending on the time of year. For instance, during the holiday season gyms often offer wonderful rates or specials. And some even offer couples specials. So, you may want to motivate your partner to join in your plans.
Myth #6: 'Women should avoid high-intensity training.'
You don't have to avoid strength training machines ladies. And certainly don't be too shy to add on weight just because you think it may look unfeminine. This merely correlates to our culture's perceptions about femininity and delicacy, which is totally off and ridiculous. In fact, lifting solely dumbbells may not be enough resistance to gain the lean body you'd truly like. Moreover, you have more in you than you can imagine, ladies. You definitely have the capacity to strength train at higher intensities and volumes. Additionally, higher volumes and capacities are the means to creating adaptation in muscle, cartilage, bone, ligaments, and tendons. So, to reap the best of benefits, at least once per week perform a weight routine at the maximum repetition for all exercises.
Myth #7: 'Abdomen machines work better than the crunch.'
Please, please, please don't let another infomercial sway your gut instinct: They just aren't any better in performance than the tried and true abdominal crunch! All of this high tech machinery needs to be put to the grave. Often, they are difficult to use and inaccurate performance becomes normal by participants. And what's more is the expense! Well, the crunch is free, easily learned, and just plain better than any machine you could own.