dismiss weight training as a fitness option because of certain
misconceptions. There are many myths surrounding the sport, especially
for women-from the idea that women who lift weights will wind
up looking like Arnold to the hope that you can target just the
areas of your body you'd most like to change. Here are nine myths
about body building for women-that we hope won't keep you from
giving it a try.
training is just for the guys. Many women dismiss bodybuilding
and weight training as too "masculine." Actually, women
can gain important health benefits from weight training. It strengthens
bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life-and since
about 80% of women over 50 develop symptoms of the disease, weight
training is a valuable prevention that will benefit most women.
It also strengthens joints and muscles, allowing your body to
stay healthier longer.
training will make you look like a man. There's a common misconception
that lifting weights will make women look bulky and masculine.
Nothing could be further than the truth. Women do not produce
enough testosterone naturally to make them look as bulky as a
male bodybuilder-and they never will, no matter how much they
work out. To be honest, only a handful of physically gifted men
ever bulk up that way naturally; most take steroids to look that
bulky. Female bodybuilders take steroids as well, which may be
where the preconception comes from-those women do look bulky,
but they need help. Unless you consciously take steroids, you
won't look bulky and masculine as a result of strength training.
training will make your breasts bigger. Working out your pecs
will not make your breasts bigger. Your breasts are made of fatty
tissue, not muscle-so it's impossible to increase their size through
working out. The muscles in your back will increase, so your overall
measurements might increase as well-but your cup size won't.
training isn't safe if you're pregnant. Not true. Weight training
can be done safely while you're pregnant. You do have to be careful
and avoid certain exercises, however-it's often safer to work
on machines than with free weights while pregnant, as machines
provide more support and there's less risk of falling. You'll
also need to avoid abdominal exercises including full-body exercises
that include your abs, and cut any exercises that require lying
on your stomach or back out of your routine. Get your doctor's
advice, but in general you can continue weight training while
gain lots of muscle and then stop exercising, you'll get fat.
This is a myth that both men and women believe-that muscle will
turn to fat if you stop exercising. Muscle cannot turn to fat
any more than iron can turn to gold. However, many people who
work out regularly also have big appetites. While they're working
out, they can burn the calories-but if they stop, they may gain
extra weight while they lose muscle tone.
training will decrease your flexibility. Not if it's done
right. Weight training can actually increase your flexibility.
Many full-body exercises are done through the limb's full range
of motion, testing the muscle's limits on every rep. In addition,
a good warmup and cooldown routine should include stretching exercises.
If you exercise the right way, your flexibility should increase
with strength training.
get rid of that unsightly bulge through weight training. The
unfortunate fact is that there is no such thing as spot training.
You can't target your least favorite bulge and make it disappear.
If you do want to get rid of unsightly bulges, your best bet is
to reduce fat everywhere through a combination of weight training
and cardiovascular workouts. Cardio burns fat, while weight training
builds muscle that works to burn fat further-some experts estimate
it takes approximately 50-60 calories to maintain each pound of
training takes too much time. Many women believe it takes
an immense time commitment to see results. As a matter of fact,
you generally shouldn't work out more than an hour a day-or even
every day of the week. The only way to gain in strength and see
results is to work a muscle until it is momentarily fatigued to
the point where it physically cannot do another rep. This doesn't
take endless repetitions to achieve; with a weight at the limit
of your lifting ability, it can take only a handful of reps. Most
trainers will suggest that you do at least two sets of each exercise-and
use a weight that's heavy enough so that you have a hard time
lifting it by the end of the second set.
at the gym will be looking at you. Men and women alike often
suffer from self-consciousness when they first go to a gym. But
women in particular tend to feel the pressure to be slim and perfect-looking
before they'd dare walk into a gym and work out in front of other
people. The truth is, everyone starts somewhere-and all the other
fit, toned people at your gym probably started with less-than-perfect
bodies as well. In addition, most people at the gym are there
to work out-they won't be looking at you.
isn't just for men. It's also a healthy way for women to get fit
and toned. No matter whether you're pregnant, over 50, or under
20, you're sure to see improvements in your body image, energy
level, and fitness if you give it a try.
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.