3 Top Myths Debunked
If I lift weights I am going to get too "bulky". This is the exact thought that has kept many women out of the weight room for decades. The fear of turning into the next Miss Olympia is enough to keep many from the otherwise beneficial effects of strength training. Lifting weights can aid in increasing bone density, joint movement, and strength. In addition to this it is an efficient way of burning calories and can also aid in cardiovascular conditioning if you incorporate plyometrics into your workout regimen. Unfortunately there are still people out there that believe the weight room is strictly for men. I'm here today to debunk three of the most popular misconceptions associated with women and strength training.Credit: www.istockphoto.com
Lifting Weights Makes You "Bulky"
Becoming "bulky" from lifting weights is as likely as being picked up by the PGA if you play golf with your friends every other weekend. This is one of the largest myths that keeps many women from entering the weight room. Before I finally coerced by wife into joining me for my daily gym sessions this was one of her biggest hesitations about starting a lifting regimen. She loved attending yoga, zumba, and spin classes but was very hesitant the first time I mentioned strength training. After explaining to her the benefits of adding this to her workout schedule she gave it a shot and now actually enjoys it. It simply isn't as easy for women to put on muscle mass as it is for men. Research shows that testosterone, which is vital in increasing strength and muscle mass is upwards of 20 times less in women than compared to men. This lack of testosterone makes it much more difficult for woman to put on excess muscle as men can. In addition this "bulky" look is also very much associated with diet. Many men when looking to "bulk up" not only lift religiously but also consume excessive amounts of food rich in protein and fat to provide their bodies with the increased caloric intake needed to put on extra poundage. A well-rounded diet coupled with a well mapped out strength training program is much more likely to result in a more toned physique and not a "bulky" one.
Muscle Turns to Fat
This concept has more to do with the fear of what happens when the weight lifting stops. Although excess adipose tissue, or fatty tissue, can indeed accumulate it is typically the result of excessive caloric intake. Think about weight gain like your checking account. Calories which are the building blocks of the food we eat is synonymous with the cash in your bank account. When you eat or drink you are "depositing" calories into your body (or money into your account). You burn calories (or withdraw cash) throughout the day both through activity, exercise, and your metabolic rate. (metabolic rate put simply is the calories that are burned by your body just to keep it functioning and alive). The way you start to build excess adipose tissue is when you "deposit" much more calories than you "withdraw". If you were to stop lifting weights but still kept up the same activity level your muscles may began to atrophy (or shrink), but would certainly not morph into excess fat.
Lifting Weights Can Cause Injury
Although lifting weights can result in injury so can almost anything else. You can hurt yourself just as easily running on the treadmill or taking a yoga class if you are unaware of what you are doing. For that manner you could sustain an injury if you bend over the wrong way to tie your shoe. The key to avoiding injury when out on the gym floor is to maintain good mechanics and proper body alignment. Maintaining good body mechanics is as easy as lifting with your legs instead or your back, or when picking up an object from the floor keeping the load close to your body rather than way out in front of you. When lifting weights it is important to remember to use slow controlled motions when both lifting the weight during a specific exercise as well as when lowering it down. I see far too many people on a daily basis attempting to lift too much weight and straining, or using their whole body to build momentum to move or lift more weight than they should be attempting. Many of the weight lifting machines in your local gym will have pictures, directions, and the primary muscles being worked outlined on the side of the machine. I urge everyone to take the time to read these directions before starting out on a machine you are unfamiliar with. If you were to buy a brand new electronic device would you just start hitting buttons and pushing and pulling nobs? Of course not, you wouldn't want to risk damaging your new expensive product so you would most likely read through the directions carefully. Your body is no different in this instance from the electronic device you just purchased, take care of it and it will take care of you too! In addition to this enrolling the services of a personal trainer is a great strategy to learn the proper way to begin and progress with your strength training program. You can also find a number of great videos demonstrating proper mechanics for specific exercises on video based websites such as YouTube. This provides a more inexpensive alternative to hiring a personal trainer.
Strength training is a great way for both men and women to burn calories, build strength, and keep bones and muscles strong and healthy. Weight lifting when combined with diligent aerobic and stretching programs is an effective way of increasing your health and obtaining those personal gains you've been striving towards. I encourage all women out there who want to take their workout to the next level to give strength training a shot. If you have any specific questions pertaining to how you should start, or the exercises you could be doing feel free to comment and I will be happy to discuss in further detail. Remember we only get one body, take care of it!