While recent years have seen a welcome increase in the number of women engaging in strength training regimes, many women are still reluctant to take up this fun and healthy practice.
Why? Unfortunately, there are many myths out there which have some serious staying power, and the content of those myths is enough to warn many women away from strength training altogether. So, it’s time to debunk some of these huge misunderstandings.
Myth: It’s “For Men”
The entire idea that strength training is for men while cardio is for women came about mainly as a result of effective advertising. Supplement manufacturers, gym recruiters, and home fitness equipment sellers all focused on male-centric advertising, while running shoes, step counters, and aerobics classes heavily targeted women.
This advertising has been so powerful that it has kept men away from super healthy activities such as dance and cycle classes, and women away from the free weight section of nearly every gym.
In reality, both men and women can enjoy the benefits of strength training and cardio, and in fact, a healthy and well-rounded workout routine will include a combination of both.
Myth: It’ll Make You Look “Manly” or Overly Muscled
Strength training does focus on building muscle, but there is a world of difference between “stronger muscles,” and “bodybuilding.”
Again, advertising might largely be to blame for the idea that strength training causes women to “bulk up,” which is, according to another myth, essentially the same thing as putting on weight. Next thing you know, you’ll be ripping through your favorite shirt, and unable to zip up your knee-high boots, right?
This simply isn’t the case. Bodybuilders look the way they look due to an intense regimen of training, strict dieting, strategic dehydration, and even tanning. They live and breathe bodybuilding in order to get that ultra-muscular look. Picking up a few dumbbells is not going to cause anyone to “hulk out.” It takes significantly more dedication than that.
Myth: Strength Training Limits Flexibility
You’ve probably seen this myth play out in TV shows or cartoons: a super-muscular person has trouble performing basic tasks like reaching for a doorknob, or touching their toes. In fact, we even have a term for this phenomenon: muscle-bound.
However, strengthening your muscles does not have any tightening effect on joints, ligaments, or connective tissue. If you have significant flexibility, all you need to do to maintain that is an appropriate stretching routine. Stretching works regardless of how much strength training you do.
So, you can even increase your flexibility while strength training by incorporating appropriate stretching into your workouts.
Myth: Muscle Turns into Fat if You Stop Strength Training
Muscle fiber and fat cells are two completely different things, and there is no biological process by which one can “turn into” the other.
As you gain muscle, it is true that your body composition can begin to change, but this is because strong muscles undergoing healthy workouts burn more fat, not because the fat is transformed into muscle fiber.
Likewise, the sudden cessation of a strength training routine can cause fat to accumulate on the body, but this may happen if you continue consuming the extra calories you needed when you were strength training without doing any further exercise.
Myth: You Need a Gym
A gym membership is not strictly necessary in order perform strength training exercises. Yes, gyms often have a wide variety of training equipment available for their members, but that doesn’t make them the only places you can effectively work out.
In fact, if you are just starting out on a strength training routine, bodyweight exercises may be the best place to begin. These exercises require no equipment whatsoever. And for those looking to get more creative, many things can be substituted for gym equipment. For instance, try carrying two buckets of water across your lawn, and tell us that isn’t a serious workout.
Myth: Cardio Burns More Calories Anyway
You need to remember to look at the big picture when considering weight loss. The most effective way to boost weight loss is to increase the number of calories your body burns, even when it is at rest. For that, strength training beats cardio every time.
The muscles of strength trainers will burn up to 50 percent more calories than those of runners or walkers, and this caloric burn happens all day, not just during the workout. So, running full out for one hour may use up lots of calories, but once your workout is over, the increased calorie burn is also over. Strength training prompts your body to burn more calories all around the clock.
We hope this fun attempt to bust some myths has encouraged you to regard strength training as a healthy and enjoyable addition to your workout routine. Once you strip away the misconceptions, there’s nothing but benefits to be gained.