4 Myths about Women and Muscle Training

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Women are constantly bombarded with ideas that harm the way they see themselves and make them feel like they can’t do certain activities, in order to achieve a ‘dream body’ that might not even exist. Weightlifting is no exception to that rule.

Myth #1: Women should avoid using weights because it will make them big and bulky

This misconception is in fact one of the main reasons why when you enter any gym, you see the cardio machine area full of women and the weight training area predominantly with men.
Verdict: FALSE. A very small percentage of women possess the genetic potential to experience significant muscle bulk-up. Generally, women are typically smaller in size, possess less muscle tissue, and have lower levels of anabolic hormones (aka. testosterone) than men. And even if they possessed the same levels and traits than men, it would be really hard to bulk-up in muscle, as most men are unable to add large amounts of muscle mass. So next time you enter the gym at the free-weights area and make a bicep curl, don’t worry. Under natural conditions, you’ll be able to improve your muscular strength within genetic limitations and not become like the next She-Hulk!

Myth #2: Protein Powder is ONLY for men and will make women that take it, gain weight, or get bulky

This myth has been so spread out, that once I even heard a DOCTOR say such a dumb statement! 

Verdict: ONLY PARTIALLY TRUE. But only when it comes to weight gain! Let me explain...Protein is a macro-nutrient. Macronutrients are building blocks that any human being (men and women) need in a balanced diet. Protein powder is nothing more than a supplement that you take when your diet makes it hard for you to get the necessary protein your body needs. It is NOT a vital supplement to a healthy diet (as long as you take enough foods rich in this macronutrient), but it is nothing more than that. 

Protein Shakes, like any beverage other than water, contain calories. The only reason you could gain weight from drinking a protein shake would be if you were surpassing your caloric intake instead of staying in a deficit. But you could do that with just anything you eat. As for bulking, I would like to re-emphasize that women do not have enough testosterone to ‘bulk up’ so easily, and whey protein does not interfere with these levels. And no...Drinking protein shakes alone can't make you gain muscles if you don't do muscle training.
So ‘shake’ those feelings off! 

Myth #3: Women should ONLY lift light weights if they want to ‘tone-up’ 

Ugh..! There’s nothing more annoying than this statement… Due to the unfounded fear of ‘bulking-up´, many women restrict their resistance training to light (aka. pink) weights and high repetitions to become more ‘toned’ and avoid building muscle. 

Verdict: NOT ONLY FALSE BUT BASED IN ANOTHER LIE!  Several studies* have demonstrated similar results in muscular endurance, strength, and size when doing high reps and low reps. In other words, as long as the exercise fatigues the targeted muscles, both create similar muscular responses. That said, training with light weights that produce no effort, proves to be inefficient and has limited to no benefit at all. Not to mention, that ‘toning-up’ is also a myth in itself! But I’ll leave that for another article ;) 

Myth #4: To Lose Weight, you should ONLY do Cardio 

Don’t get me wrong; cardio is great! The word ‘cardio’ comes from the Greek word ‘Kardia’; which means heart.  ‘Cardio’ is a term used to refer aerobic exercises, and as the name suggests, it helps to improve our heart condition. The heart is a muscle and needs to be worked like all the others. However, I can’t imagine something more torturing than running like a rat on a treadmill just because I want to lose weight!

Verdict: FALSE. Not only all cardio and no strength exercises aren’t boring, but also inefficient for weight loss in the long term. Muscle burns more calories than any other bodily tissues, meaning the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. When you do weight training, you're actually breaking down muscles, and the body uses energy to repair them. That energy is referred to as calories. Therefore if you burn more calories than you take, you’ll be losing more weight. 

Conclusion: Take everything you hear, with a skeptical mind. 

We live in an era where there is so much information that it becomes difficult to navigate in any field and differentiate truths from lies. Fitness and a journey to a healthier version of yourself is no exception. So next time you hear random advice from other people and the Internet, investigate further! 

Oh….and go ahead! Dare to step into the weight room, and don’t fear to add more weight to your strength training. Become into the healthier, stronger version of yourself.

Did I miss any myth that needs to be debunked? Contact me and I’ll post it as well

 *Studies: Behm et.al.,2002; Behm et al., 2000; Chestnut & Docherty, 1999; Taffe et al., 1996. (All quoted at the American Council on Exercise Personal Training Manual, Fifth Edition).

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