Just because you saw something on TV, read about it online, or heard it from a friend, doesn't always mean it's true. Information is everywhere—from various publications to word of mouth—and it can be confusing to determine what's true and what's a myth.
Women and strength training have not always been a popular combination, though the pair has received a boost with the growth of CrossFit. Some women are still holding back, however, often because of the myths they've heard surrounding this form of exercise.
1. I'll get bulky from lifting weights
Women often look at pictures of other women with big muscles and assume this will happen to them when they lift weights. But the muscle they're looking at is a result of years of intense training in the gym while following a rigorous schedule, strict diet and extreme dedication.
Women tend to avoid the weight room because they think cardio is the only way to lose weight. They're unaware of the benefits of strength training, notably the ability to build a healthy, fit physique.
On average, women have 30 percent less muscle fiber to develop than men, which means it would be much more difficult for a woman to get bulky than it would be for a man. Additionally, any training effect can be reversed and "detrained" if desired. No training effect (such as big muscles) is permanent.
Next time you see an extremely muscular woman, understand it's very likely 10 or more years of vigorous training and dieting produced that body. Unless you practice the same kind of commitment, it's very unlikely you'll develop a bodybuilder-like physique.
2. I just have to do cardio to lose weight
Cardio is great, and we all need it to live a healthy lifestyle. The heart is a muscle and needs to be worked like all the others. However, when it comes to weight loss, cardio alone doesn't always help you lose weight and keep it off.
Muscle burns more calories than any other bodily tissues, meaning the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. When you lift weights, you're actually breaking down muscles, and the body uses energy to repair them. Strength training helps you lose weight and can transform your body composition, leading to a firmer, tighter appearance.
Additionally, strength training can make you less prone to injury, as it helps protect your joints and improves balance. It also builds stronger bones so you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis, and it increases stamina and endurance.
3. Spot reduction works
Unfortunately, doing hundreds of side crunches isn't the secret to making your waist smaller. Your body is genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain locations. When you begin to lose overall weight, you'll lose weight in certain locations more than others, and this is simply due to genetics.
You may lose weight in your thighs, then your chest and then your belly. You may lose weight in an entirely different order. It all depends on your genetics. You can isolate muscles or certain areas all day, but it's unlikely you'll see drastic changes in those areas without an overall decrease in body fat.
4. A good workout program takes too much time
When women hear it takes 45 to 60 minutes five, five days a week, to achieve the body they want, of course they're scared away. Achieving your goals doesn't take this long, though.
Decreasing body fat and gaining lean muscle can be accomplished in two to three sessions a week. It's simply about picking quality over quantity. Focus on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, planks and push-ups, as these require a lot of effort from the body and initiate the burning of fat.
5. One fitness plan works for everyone
Every body is different. Those generic fitness and nutrition plans in magazines and on the Internet will not work for everyone who tries them.
This doesn't mean you should avoid a plan if it's not working after a few weeks, though. The only way to know if it will be successful is to try it for at least four to six weeks and track your results. Bouncing around quickly from one program to another does not give your body enough time to adjust and show potential results.
6. Light weights and lots of reps is the only way to burn fat
Light weights are great for building muscular endurance, but using them isn't the only way to burn fat. In order to create growth and muscle definition, the body has to activate type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers, which are responsible for explosive and powerful movements. Type I (slow twitch) muscles are responsible for more endurance activities.
You may "feel the burn" when lifting 3-pound weights for 15 to 20 repetitions, but this is typically not enough to create a stimulus for muscle growth. Although lifting lighter weights has its time and place in a workout program, if the end goal is fat loss and muscle definition, it shouldn't be the bulk of your routine.