The misconstrues of #womenwholift
A series incorporated with many of today’s common misconceptions about women who lift weights
1. Lifting Is For Men
A common misinterpretation women have about weightlifting is that it’s associated with masculinity; that pumping iron is for male body builders, who’s pecks bulge out of their shirts, probably bigger than most women’s.
There is a lingering fear that if you were to ditch your yoga class and pick up some dumbbells your body will drastically morph into the female Hulk. There’s a harnessed anxiety built up inside of you, creating this hesitation to enter the weight room because it’s for male juice heads.
A prime example of these fears is recorded in the hilarious comedy skit by Jim Carrey
Buffed, Beautiful, and Bitchin’
Contrary to the skit, our society is inherently evolving from this sexist notion. Strong is no longer a term reserved solely for men. Lifting was once associated with masculinity and burliness. Now strong is as feminine as it is masculine and there’s no need to associate female fitness with its male opposite.
Benefits of Lifting for Women ⇓
- Lean muscle mass → You’re exchanging your fat mass for lean muscle mass, which tightens up your body (build muscle to burn fat)
- Boosts metabolism → By adding more muscle mass you’ll in return burn more calories, boosting your metabolism
- Curves → Lifting gives you the ability to shape and tone your body, allowing you to achieve the round, gravity-defying gluteus maximus we all aim to get.
- Increased Energy → In a study published by the National Institute of Health, long-term resistance training can maintain energy balance and prevent weight gain.
- Bone Health → Resistance training can help combat loss of bone mass and decrease the risk of osteoporosis
Resistance training is becoming a source of empowerment for women. There is no longer a correlated link between women and weakness; strength training is no longer solely dedicated for their male counterparts.Where sex once was a major determinant for which workout routines were done, this theory is now debunked.
“With broader exposure to strength training, I see more of my female clientele taking pride in outgrowing what they presumed were their personal boundaries. They’re able to lift greater loads, move with more grace, and are becoming stronger than they ever thought possible.”
– High Heels and Barbells: The Changing Psychology of Fitness – Huffingtonpost.com
Women are bringing grace, poise, and their femininity into the weight room. Their lifting gloves in the same gym bag as their lipgloss and eyeliner. When listing your fitness objectives, lifting weights will aline directly with what you want to achieve for your body, so don’t think lifting is just for the boys’.
Stay Buffed, Beautiful and Bitchin’
2. Resistance Training Will Make You Bulky
As someone who resistance trains regularly, I’m often encouraging friends and acquaintances to join me. A common response I hear, besides the typical lack of time, is that they don’t want to get too “bulky” and would rather focus on toning the muscle they already have (which, let’s be honest, is nonexistent).
In a study performed in 2009, Leigh Peele conducted a poll, where over 2,000 answered questions regarding women, weightlifting, and the perceptions of bulkiness.
- 79% said they do not lift heavy weights
- 41% said muscles on women are not attractive
- 72% said they do not think men like seeing muscle on women
The opinions gathered from this poll make up a piece of what speaks for the world. Although opinions of women who lift has shifted somewhat, the poll still accurately represents a portion of societies thought process.
Moshe Klyman, is a personal trainer, nutritionist and the owner of Underground Training. He helps deflate the myth that lifting will make women bulk up, stating that it is derived from stereotyping appeared in the 1950’s.
“Lifting will increase muscle mass and burn more calories,’’ Klyman said. “It’s going to create a more aesthetic, lean, sexy sculpted body. A lot of men like to think lifting will look good in the mirror, but it’s complete crap. If you want to look good and feel good, you have to stimulate your entire body. Nobody who is fit looks the way they do without a balanced program that includes aerobic activity, proper nutrition and healthy personal habits.”
Tenafly Trainer: Lifting Weights Won’t Make You Bulky – englewood.dailyvoice.com
Reasons why you won’t become the she-hulk:
- Muscle building taking years of dedicated weight training → It is physically impossible for anyone to acquire a bodybuilding physic overnight. By incorporating resistance training into your daily workout, you will gain lean muscle over time, burn more calories, and keep fat off. Muscle bulk is obtained through high volume training overtime.
- Women do not have the same hormone profile as men → Higher levels of testosterone are often associated with muscle growth, which is why males are able to put on more muscle mass.
“According to Bill Kreamer in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men. Testosterone is the reason men are men and women are women. After men hit puberty, they grow facial hair, their voice deepens, and they develop muscle mass. Because men have more testosterone, they are much more equipped to gain muscle.”
Top Ten Reasons Heavy Weights Don’t Bulk Up Women – thespartanwarrior.com
- Heavy weights promotes increased strength, not size → I am a prime example of this. Starting my fitness journey over three years ago, I could barely do 20 lunges accompanied by 5 lb. weights. As compared to now, lunging 20 x per set, doing over 120 lunges with 30 lb. weights, the strength I’ve found in myself has increased drastically, but my body still remains lean and toned.
The photograph on the left is from 2013, right at the beginning of my fitness journey. The photograph on the right was taken in March of this year.
It has taken me three years of dedication to build up the definition you see in the photograph on the righthand side. Now I am lean and toned, rather than big and bulky.
- YOU are able to determine how much muscle you want to build → Resistance training is not a “one size fits all” package deal. Whether you want to do high reps and low weight or vice versa is up to you, depending on your fitness and body objectives.
Maybe this perception of bulkiness is derived from fitness magazines or bodybuilding competitions, but the notion that women should stay away from the weight room because they’ll become massive is false.
3. Training Your Legs Everyday Is Key To Obtaining A More Curvaceous Butt
Rather than avoiding the taboo subject of discussing a woman’s ass, lets just dive right into it, shall we? A woman’s backside has become a glorified staple in todays society and the fitness world. With popular celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez being prominent figures in this trend, many women have began training their legs and glutes in pursuit of a more curvaceous derrière.
Fitness model Brittany Renner (known as @bundleofbrittany to her followers) has created a following of 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Her killer body, but more importantly her shapely backside, has gotten her noticed on various social media platforms. Renner also has a fitness app, where she shares workouts and nutritional advice.
While there are multiple workouts you can do to accomplish your fitness goals of building up your gluteus maximus, it is important to realize you cannot train the same muscle group two consecutive days in a row.
“All that hard work you do in the gym is the stimulus for muscle growth; the actual repair and rebuilding occur the next few days given rest and proper nutrition. Cut the recuperation period short and you cut short the muscle’s ability to grow stronger and larger. Training more frequently induces overtraining, and your results will suffer big time.”
The benefits of weight training can be addicting, especially when you are dedicated to your fitness objectives.Once you start seeing results and building your strength and stamina up its easy to want to push yourself further. Your muscles need time to recuperate and this recovery time needs to be factored in to your workout routine.
“Fatigue and decreased strength occurs when the body doesn’t get enough rest between weight-training sessions, or when the muscles haven’t fully recovered their glycogen stores. High-intensity resistance exercise can cuase damage to skeletal muscle and connective tissues.”
Muscle Recovery Time After Weight Lifting – livestrong.com
4. Cardio Is All You Need To Lose Weight
Depending on the target areas you aim to lose weight , a common misconception is that cardio is all you need. The myth that cardio makes you burn off calories and weight training makes you gain weight is only hindering women’s fitness progress.
“Studies have demonstrated that after a weight training workout, the metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours post-workout…”
“When your muscles work harder, they have to do more post-workout rebuilding. That burns calories and lifts levels of metabolism-boosting hormones, says study author Antonio Paoli, M.D., of the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy.”
To burn a significant amount of calories you need to incorporate a higher intensity workout. Resistance training works the body so that you are burning calories even after you finish your workout, more than your traditional cardio.
Always keep in mind, the more energy being engaged, the more calories that are burned!
5. Women Are Only In The Gym To Lose Weight
This misconception hits home for me. The truth is, not all women have the same fitness goals. Our genetic makeup is different, we have different physical attributes and body types. The gym offers a fitness sanctuary for many women and men trying to achieve any number of personal goals.
Both genders visit the gym for the own specific reasons, whether their training for a competition, seeking health benefits, trying to lose weight, improving their athleticism, increasing their strength, the options are limitless.
Gyms are now able to diversify workouts and become more specific to meeting individual needs and goals. Workout classes are becoming increasingly popular, which target different parts of the body and incorporate different ways of getting active. Cycling, yoga, Zumba, weight training, water aerobics are only a couple that many gyms offer. Even if a class isn’t your route, creating a workout that fits your body type is a way to achieve your fitness objectives.
From a personal standpoint, my journey of resistance training began three years ago, as mentioned in Day 3 of this series. What sparked my interest and now full blown obsession with the gym was my desire to gain weight. I had a tough time gaining weight as a child and young adult, so my fitness objectives resulted in wanting to build my quads/ glutes /hamstrings and maintain a flat stomach while adding definition. The reasons I go to the gym vary from others, due to a difference in body type and mindset.
I wanted to see why other people went to the gym. I asked 11 people why they went and what they aimed to achieve.
“I want to have abs and my goal is to run a tough mudder!”
– Sheyda Khodaei
“I’m going because post pregnancy my body did its own thing and I’m trying to get it back to how it used to be.”
– Jenni Jimenez
“It helps me release stress and it always makes me feel so much better when I am finished.”
– Rosalyne Follman
“Exercise makes me a happier person, I feel lazy and down on myself if I don’t get enough of it.”
– Bella Junejo
“I find it’s a great way to build self discipline.”
– Danny Vichot
“I’m trying to build up my legs and butt, of course!”
– Jordan Galindo
“I want to lose weight and have my young body back but also to be active and healthy for my son so he has someone to be active and do sports with as he grows up.”
– Kevin Michael
“I’m trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle and it boosts my confidence.”
– Sierra Angoli
“Right now I’m in the process of building up my chest and back muscles, but in general it helps me remain focused.”
– Israel Barnes
“I go to the gym to make me feel better about myself. I want a change in my body and I want to do it in a healthy way.”
– Arianna Bisbal
“I gotta work off that Hooters food! Just Kidding, honestly it does feel good, I think it helps my immune system and I”m getting skinnier.”
– Danielle Sanchez
The opinions gathered from this short poll reveal that women (and men) go to the gym for different reasons. Some to lose weight, some to gain muscle mass, and some simply to feel the health benefits. To think we all go to the gym for one collective purpose and reason is inaccurate. Our boys are different and require different strength training in order to reach the desired goals.