7 Female Weight Training Myths [Are You Falling for These?!]
7 Female Weight Training Myths
Are you falling for these weight lifting myths about women?
The fitness world is full of more than just 7 female weight training myths and misconceptions.
Everyone knows what’s best for you and you probably get unsolicited advice from random people at your gym every week, heck, maybe even every session!
This can be really frustrating, especially if you’re a newbie. You can’t decide who to listen and you end up being utterly confused.
If you’re a woman, things are ten times worse. Everyone instantly turns into a top-level fitness coach and nutritionist as soon as a girl enters the gym.
They begin to shower you with tips and tricks, they all know which exercises are the best for you and how you should eat etc.
Don’t worry, I know exactly how you feel. That’s why I’ve decided to write this article and help my fellow gym sisters. Hopefully, once you read this, you’ll get rid of the most common prejudices which prevent you from reaching your full fitness potential.
1: “If I lift weights I’ll become bulky”
This sentence is my biggest pet peeve! This myth is fueled by popular female magazines which depict women as delicate little flowers capable of lifting only 4 lbs pink dumbbells. As much as I’d like it to, muscle building doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication and proper nutrition to build muscle mass.
I’ve already written a very useful and informative article about female hormones and their effect on muscle growth. There’s a good biological reason why you frequently see bulky men and you rarely see a jacked woman.
Us women have considerably less testosterone compared to men. Estrogen and progesterone are the most important female hormones. Testosterone is responsible for building muscle mass, and since we have it only in traces, it’s virtually impossible to get bulky naturally.
If you’re just an average gym goer who wants to be in shape, there’s absolutely no need to worry about becoming too muscular.
As a female, you can only really get very muscular by weight lifting A LOT, being diligent about your nutrition and you’d probably have to use some supplements and synthetic hormones to achieve that female pro bodybuilder physique you’re afraid looks too masculine.
2: “If I stop exercising my muscles will turn into fat”
This misconception has been circling around for ages. We need to put a stop to it because it deters many people from exercising.
When you exercise regularly your muscles become bigger and more noticeable. This process is called hypertrophy. The more you use your muscles the stronger and bigger they become.
When you stop using your muscles they begin to shrink. The less you use them the smaller and weaker they become. This process is called atrophy.
You’ve certainly seen it if you’ve ever broken a bone in your limbs. When you wear a cast you cant use your muscles and once it gets removed you can notice that your muscles get sore and tired very quickly. That’s because you haven’t used them for quite a while.
Nature has one cruel principle: Use it or lose it. If you don’t use your muscles you will lose them. That being said, it’s impossible for muscles to turn into fat. They can only shrink and become smaller. If you stop exercising you’ll be more likely to neglect your diet and eventually you’ll pack more fat.
If you decide to stop exercising you can prevent this by sticking to a healthy and diverse diet. Just remember that you’ll inevitably lose muscle mass if you stop exercising and this can be bad for your health.
Retaining muscle mass as you get older will make you more independent and agile. You’ll also prevent or halt common age-related problems, such as osteoporosis.
3: “I can eat anything I want”
Technically speaking, you can, but you won’t get good results, and that’s the whole purpose of training.
Exercising is actually the easier part. It’s much harder to make healthy food choices, especially if you’ve been addicted to junk food for years.
If you completely neglect your nutrition your muscles won’t get enough fuel and they won’t grow. Plus, a poor diet will leave you with excess fat which will hide your hard-earned muscles. If you dedicate so much time and effort to your training regime, it would be such a pity to toss it all away because of bad food choices.
The best thing you can do is to gradually give up on junk food and replace it with healthy and nutritious food. It’s extremely difficult to do it overnight so go step by step. It’s not a good idea to radically and suddenly change your diet, it’s quite a shock for your organism.
The best way to do it is slow and steady. Today, instead of a chocolate bar, try eating an apple or an orange as a snack.
This seemingly small and unimportant step will be very beneficial to your long-term fitness goal. Once you develop a habit, you won’t crave sugary, junk food. Eating healthy will become a part of your daily routine.
4: “Weights are for guys, I’ll just do cardio”
Women tend to think that they need only cardio since their goal is to lose fat and not to build loads of muscles. Sorry, girls, that won’t work out (pun intended).
While cardio is very good for fat loss, it’s possible to overdo it. When you do too much cardio, you’ll not only lose fat but also precious muscle mass. Ultimately if you continue with this regime you’ll end up being skinny fat.
You’ll be skinny and you’ll be satisfied with the number on your scale, but you’ll be saggy and flabby. That’s the exact opposite of what you want.
If you want to have a toned, sculpted body, the best way to achieve this is by doing both cardio and strength training. Strength training will make you curvy and toned, while cardio will shed fat and improve your cardiovascular health.
My favorite form of cardio is HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It’s great for your heart and it will melt fat even around the most problematic areas (lower tummy and thighs) and it’ll take you no more than 30 minutes.
It’s very versatile and if you hate spending time on a treadmill and find traditional cardio to be dull, you’ll love HIIT. You can combine many different exercises and make your own HIIT session. If you’re a newbie, here are some beginner HIIT regimes for you.
As you build more stamina, you can increase the intensity or duration of your HIIT sessions. When it comes to exercise choices sky is the limit.
If you’re overweight and you don’t want to put a lot of pressure on your joints, you can do HIIT with swimming or cycling.
5: “Lifting heavy weight is dangerous”
Getting out of your house is dangerous, you can get hit by a car. Traveling by bus is dangerous, you can be involved in an accident.
Anything can be dangerous. Luckily, when it comes to exercising you’re the one in charge.
There is always a risk of injury with every sport. If you’re not a professional athlete and you don’t push your body to its limits, you have less chance to get injured. Know your limits and respect them. Listen to your body – if it’s really telling you to stop or if you experience pain, then stop and lower the intensity.
Pay attention to any previous vulnerabilities – if you have weak spots or old injuries be extra careful and always perform an exercise with a good form. By paying close attention to your form and focusing mentally while you’re exercising you’ll lower the risk of injury.
Don’t forget to warm-up properly and prepare your muscles for exercise. Dedicate 10-15 minutes after each workout to gentle stretching as this will allow your body to cool down. If you notice that your form is slipping, lower the weight. It’s crucial to have a proper form as this will protect you from injuries.
You’ve certainly seen ego lifters in your gym. Those guys with a terrible form that just keep adding more weight. I always look at them anxiously waiting for their spines to break. Don’t be like them, train smart and protect your body.
It is one of those Female Weight Training Myths spoken by those who have no idea what they’re talking about.
6: “If I do tons of crunches I’ll lose belly fat and get abs”
Sorry to disappoint you, girls, but it’s very difficult to target one area specifically when it comes to fat loss. You can mostly only lower your overall body fat percentage. That’s why nutrition is so important. No amount of exercising will help you if you don’t dedicate time and energy to eating healthy foods and giving your muscles fuel.
Crunches isolate your abdominal muscles and they are a good accessory exercise. However, you should focus on doing compound movements because they activate different muscle groups. More muscles worked = more calories spent. This ultimately leads to faster metabolism and a bigger calorie expenditure.
Compound Exercises ✔️
Compound exercises are those old-school exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press. Although they are technically a bit complex, these three exercises are great even for beginners because you can adjust them to your current fitness level. Just be sure to perform them with a good form to prevent injuries.
7: “If I don’t eat anything after 6pm, I’ll lose weight faster”
Unless you go to sleep at 8pm, there’s no good reason to restrain yourself from eating after 6pm – as long as you’re taking into account the total amount of calories you’re eating each day.
If you’re cramming in 10,000 calories, or any amount of calories surplus to what you need (more calories than you’re burning), during the day time with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks before 6pm then you’re still going to gain weight even if you don’t eat after 6pm.
Whereas if you’re eating in a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you’re burning each day) spread out through the day and even after 6pm until bed time, then you will still lose weight.
Timing doesn’t matter so much, so you don’t need to stress over it – total calories matter.
Evenings are usually reserved for family and friends, which means that you probably like to have a nice chat with them over a delicious dinner or maybe you like to watch movies while snacking.
It may be too restrictive and it might make you a bit isolated to watch your close ones enjoy tasty dishes and not be able to join them. Social aspects of life are very important.
In terms of health, it’s best to stick to protein meals in the evening and lower your simple carbs intake, especially late at night. Protein will be used for building and repairing your muscles during the night. It’s fine to eat a light snack later in the evening, just don’t overdo it. A protein bar or greek yogurt are tasty and healthy snacks. Moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
We know, this is one of those Female Weight Training Myths that are hard to believe!
In the modern era, we are surrounded by too much information, some of it is very useful, while some can be harmful or prevent us from enjoying life and reaching our full potential. Don’t let these myths stop you on your fitness journey. Believe in yourself.
Just because you’re a woman, it doesn’t mean that you have to diet constantly or that you’re fragile, delicate and incapable of pumping iron. You can achieve your fitness goal with a bit of determination and consistency.
When it comes to common gym talk, be a bit more skeptical and take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt. Don’t believe everything you hear, there’s no magical pill. Losing weight and staying in shape takes time and effort.
Sometimes it will become overwhelming, and that’s ok. When you’re stuck remember why you started in the first place. Trust me, your effort will be worth it and your long-term health and strength will significantly improve. Keep grinding!
These Female Weight Training Myths really needed addressing. Don’t forget to share this article with your fellow gym sisters, they might find it useful, too. It’s time to put a stop to these myths and build your dream body!
Jovana is a sports journalist and an avid gym goer. She has three years of experience in the fitness and health niche. Although she is primarily a philologist, she is a true nerdy gym freak and enjoys learning about fitness and nutrition, with a particular interest in biomechanics. Jovana speaks five languages (so far, her ultimate goal is to speak at least seven): Serbian, English, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. When she’s not pumping iron or engaging in gym debates about supplements, she likes to read science fiction and horror novels. Her favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe.