In the last 5 years, there has been a huge shift in women’s health and an embracement of resistance training for health benefits and aesthetics. A common misconception, women believed that by lifting weights, they would automatically develop huge, thick, unsightly muscles and thought that they would be better served spending their time on the treadmill to melt away fat! Finally, we have come to realise that this is simply not true and the very thing that we once feared has become the answer to unlocking true health and the body that women have always wanted!
It’s hard not to scroll through social media to see countless articles, Instagram selfies and videos of women, sharing and teaching other women to not fear weights, but to become strong and healthy. Hence the rise in popularity of the trending hashtag #strongisthenewskinny. Pop culture has started to move away from promoting waif thin and delicate body types to celebrating stronger, curvier women with toned muscles and a healthier, more attainable body image.
Like everything, there are extremes that can be unhealthy with resistance training, but with adequate education and the right mental approach, there are few women that wouldn’t benefit from a structured weight training program.
Putting to rest the misconceptions of weight training for women.
If I want to lose weight, I should prioritise cardio over weights.
Switch it around and you’ll have it right! It’s true, doing cardio can help with the weight loss process, but it’s not nearly as effective as weight training. Classic steady state cardio can burn the calories just like weights can during the session. However the recovery from steady state cardio will be less demanding on the body and won’t keep your metabolic rate elevated like weights will.
Running on the treadmill without direction and a planed resistance program is the fastest way to nowhere!
High reps and light weights are ideal for women to tone up.
Somewhere along the line, light weights and high repetitions were marketed to women as an effective way to target and tone certain parts of the body. Perhaps it was some sort of infomercial selling a thigh squeezer or butt clencher, either way, they were feeding you snake oil! To create a change in the body, there needs to be significant disruption to produce results. For example, if you lift 10 kg for 10 reps compared with 30kg for 10reps. Which weight makes you work harder? The higher weight causes a bigger disruption metabolically, thus has a cascading effect on how many calories you burn for your system to recover. If the calories you consume are the same or lower than what you exert on average, then there is little to no chance that you will put on weight and chances are you will drop unwanted body fat and replace it with firm muscle a.k.a. “toning”.
Weight training will make me bulky.
Despite what you may have heard, building significant muscle is actually hard to do for most people. Men spend countless amounts of money in the quest of building bigger muscles and they have 10x more testosterone (which is a crucial hormone for muscle grow) than women do. Muscle is a denser tissue compared with fat, meaning that it takes up less space than fat. For example, two people may be the same height and weight, however the person with the higher body fat percentage will wear the larger clothes. The fast food diet is going to be the main reason why your jeans don’t fit anymore, not the weight training.
Embrace weight training, keep educating yourself and learn from the growing epidemic of women that have successfully become fit, strong and healthy.