Fitness

Fitness myths busted: women and weightlifting

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It is a very real fact that many women who frequent the gym are cardio bunnies: they go to the gym and spend an hour on the treadmill or the elliptical. You can actually see this in gyms: the cardio equipment is dominated by females. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this as such – cardiovascular health and stamina are important parts of overall fitness – however, many of these women are completely disregarding an essential strand of training: weight lifting.

There are so many misconceptions surrounding women and lifting weights and I really do not know why. Hopefully by the end of this article, I will have provided you all with some basic knowledge and a bit of confidence to try something new and better your body.

Myth 1: Lifting heavy weights makes women bulky.

I should probably clarify what I mean by ‘weight lifting’ before I begin. I see women lifting weights in the gym yes, but believe me those 2 kg weights they are using to bicep curl will not be doing very much. I fully appreciate we are all on different levels, but 2 kg is the weight of 2 bags of sugar… Most women can definitely lift heavier than that!

Everybody has to start off somewhere, you should ideally be lifting a weight that you are comfortable with, but you should struggle with it by the last two reps (lifts) of your set (group of reps).

Many women do not attempt to lift any ‘heavy’ weights because they fear it will make them bulky and mannish. This is definitely not the case! This is by far the biggest fitness myth I can think of and it drives me crazy! Full body weight training will sculpt your body, giving you curves in all the right places. We come in all different shapes and sizes, so results will vary, but it is inescapable that weight training will provide your body with tone and shape far more than cardio alone.

Lifting heavier weights will make your muscles stronger, not necessarily bigger. And as you get stronger, you can lift heavier. Eating right and lifting the weights will burn the fat that is hiding those muscles and make your body look toned. You will also be able to open that jar without male help, remember the princess doesn’t always need saving!

Also, it is actually physically impossible for women to look ‘bulky like men’ as we do not naturally have enough testosterone in our bodies to achieve that. What about those female body builders I hear you ask? Well, those women eat, train and take supplements specifically so they can look like that. They have also probably been working towards that goal for years.

Myth 2: Weight training doesn’t burn calories.

This is another common misconception of weight training. Many women believe that to lose weight or burn calories they need to do cardio. This is not true. There is no reason you can’t be healthy and look great without constant cardio. If you aren’t a big fan of cardio and just do it because you think its best, this is for you! If you never want to run on a treadmill again in your life, you don’t have to. However, if you actually really enjoy cardio, great! Just incorporate some weight training in there too!

When you train with weights, your muscles are broken down and then rebuilt again over the next day or so. While this is going on, your body is using more calories to make this process happen. This essentially means that your metabolism operates faster after your workout, even if you are just sitting studying or watching TV.

I understand that the weights room at the gym looks pretty intimidating with all those boys lifting really heavy and grunting, but I promise you its not that bad! You have every right to be there just as much as they do, you are strong and confident and trying to improve your health. However, if you really don’t want to venture in there just yet, you can train your muscles in much the same way with other strength exercises:

  • Kettlebells – technically weights, but you don’t necessarily need a gym for these
  • Yoga/pilates – Personally, I have been weight training for a year now and I find pilates really difficult! The moves are designed so that you are lifting your own body weight, therefore toning and strengthening your muscles.

There is absolutely no reason women shouldn’t train like men! If you are seriously considering trying weight training, I recommend YouTube as a great tool to observe correct form of the lifts and examples of different exercises. Also, you should get a program drawn up by a trainer at the gym, who can correctly demonstrate the different lifts and help you with any specific problems.

I hope to see more ladies in the weights room, mainly because I need a gym buddy! Help me out!

 

Words by Kelsie Marsden

Jess is your Deputy Editor

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