5 Myths About Women and Strength Training

March 15, 2021

5 Myths About Women and Strength Training

Many women shy away from heavy weights and all the “manly” gym equipment thinking that they will not achieve their goals this way. So let’s look at a few facts that can help you dispel myths that may be holding you back in your fitness journey.

Myth #1: Heavy weights bulk you up and make you look masculine.

Many ladies feel that if they start lifting weights, they will end up with bulky muscles that will make them look masculine. The truth is, women are not hormonally designed to be bulky. Men have 15-20 times more testosterone than women, causing men to easily build big muscles by lifting weights. For women to build tremendous amounts of muscles, it takes much work not only in the gym but also in the kitchen, where they need to dramatically change their protein and general caloric intake.

Now don’t get us wrong-- some women prefer to have more muscles, and there is nothing wrong with that! However, these women made a conscious decision and worked hard to achieve this goal. This doesn’t happen overnight and you wouldn’t ‘accidentally’ overdo it and end up looking more muscular than you prefer.

Myth #2: Lifting weight will make you gain weight (i.e. make you bigger)

While this may actually happen, this type of weight gain is something you should not worry about. As muscles are denser (but leaner) than fat, a pound of muscle is actually visually waaaay much smaller than a pound of fat.

(photo from Pinterest)

The scales may not seem to budge (or the numbers may even go up!) but there is so much more than kilos and pounds. The best goal would be to aim for a healthy body fat percentage and not just a low body weight. This brings us to the next myth.

Myth #3: Women need to do more cardio to burn fat.

While cardio definitely burns calories (and the more calorie deficit you have, the more fat you lose), many people underestimate weight training in the calorie-burning department. Cardio exercises like running may burn more calories per minute during the activity, but weight training has something that you might be interested in: the after burn effect.

When you lift weights, your muscles are slightly damaged and for up to 36 hours after, your body will work double time to repair those muscles, boosting your resting metabolism. This means that you will keep burning extra calories just going about your day. For example, if you usually burn about 60 calories watching Netflix, you will be burning about 70 calories doing the exact same thing if you had lifted weights the day before. If you total those 36 hours' worth of seemingly insignificant lost calories, they would actually amount to the number of calories of a huge cheeseburger. And this is all by doing nothing.

Moreover, muscle tissues burn more calories than fat. In fact, studies show that 10 pounds of muscle at rest would burn 50 calories, while 10 pounds of fat would only burn 20 calories.

Myth #4: If I stop lifting weights my muscle will turn into fat.

While the lack of muscles make the body quicker to pack on fat, as discussed earlier, muscles and fats are two different tissues. Muscles, when unused, may atrophy, but it is biologically impossible for the muscle tissues to transform into fat tissues. 

Myth #5: You only need to train parts that you want to lose fat from.

We’ve seen tons of infomercials selling this idea. For example, if you want smaller arms, you focus on arm exercises. If you want to lose belly fat, order that ab machine and you’d be a few rolls away from a flat stomach. Although strength training helps in toning and building lean muscles, ‘spot reduction’ or burning fat in specific areas sadly, is not possible. Unfortunately, genetic lottery will decide which areas it will burn fat from first. The best we can do is support our bodies to make them efficient in burning fat through our diet and physical activities.