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3 Myths About Lifting Heavy That Women Need to Quit Believing

Do you avoid lifting heavy weights for fear of looking too bulky or injuring yourself? We are going to debunk a few of those misconceptions revolving women lifting weights so that you can get out and rock that bikini, feel stronger in the gym, and overall improve your strength and athletic ability.

MYTH 1: Lifting weights will cause you to bulk like the Hulk.

As a fitness coach, I can't begin to count the number of times I've heard women dismiss strength training because they "don't want to get too big" and would rather "just tone." Unless you plan on taking anabolic steroids, have insane genetics, and dedicate multiple hours daily to training, then you're never going to look bulky. The cold, hard truth is that women have 1/15 to 1/20th the amount of testosterone as men, and testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for muscle growth. So it's genetically impossible to develop a hulk-like physique, unless that is your actual goal—and even then it's extremely difficult to achieve. Female bodybuilders have trained for many years to achieve a very specific look, and often use anabolic steroids to assist them.

MYTH 2: Using lighter weights is safer and will give you long, lean muscles.

Perhaps you strength train, but you've fallen victim to the idea that using tiny dumbbells for an endless amount of reps is going to give you the "toned" look you're after. Sure, it'll increase muscular endurance, but it won't help you increase muscle mass or build a more athletic physique. If you want to increase lean mass (muscle), you'll want to stick to a lower 6-12 rep range and use a heavier weight. What makes you look long and lean is muscle definition, which you get from lifting.

Not sure how to choose the right amount of weight to lift? Start light and see how many reps you can do. If you're aiming for ten reps, but you're able to perform 14, then add about five pounds. If you can only get a few reps in before you're fatigued, then pick up your lighter weights and finish the set. If you can still get through the set with no problem, add more weight until you're using a weight that allows you to perform the desired number of reps. If you have questions about the weight you should be lifting, I, as well as any of our other trainers, are more than happy to help you find your proper starting weight and go from there.

Another clue: Pay attention to how you feel. You should be able to complete the last two to three reps with proper form, but they should feel tough. Quality always trumps quantity, though, so don't push yourself so hard that you can't perform the exercise properly. Always listen to your body.

MYTH 3: Cardio is the best method for fat loss.

Not only does strength training add more definition to your entire body, but it has a ton of other health benefits too. My favorite: It increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which means you'll burn more calories throughout the day—even when you're not working out. The result is more lean muscle mass and less body fat, and that's something you can't get with just cardio.

Not convinced yet? Here is a list full of health benefits you get from strength training:

  • Increased bone density

  • Better balance, coordination, agility, power, and mobility

  • An ability to do everyday activities without worrying about getting hurt

  • Fewer symptoms associated with arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, and back pain

  • Improved sleep patterns, mood, and stress levels

As you can see, strength training does more than make you look—and feel—confident and the benefits only multiply as we get older. As we age, our bodies are at an increased risk of sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (decrease in bone density). A regular training plan can help to combat those losses. Luckily, women are starting to make their way into the weight room—so if you're not there already, it's your turn!

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