This is long overdue since my last post! Something else long overdue is getting the facts out around women and strength training. For the longest time, there was so much misinformation and confusion around women and weights. Fortunately, everyone is becoming aware that women engaging in strength training will improve their body and their life. The days of everyone screaming and yelling about cardio, cardio, and more cardio are slowly fading (thankfully!). But, we still need to spread the word on why women should be strength training. Yes, I know. It is unbelievable to me, too. There are still believers out there that strength training will take women FARTHER away from the body and life they desire. Not true.

So, let’s talk about it. In the last article, I introduced some of the basic benefits of strength training specifically in regards to women.

See more here: Women in the Weight Room - Introduction

These included mental benefits like empowerment and physical benefits like muscle gains and improving ability to tackle every day functions! The benefits are numerous but really what I wanted to focus on today is the debunking of the myths surrounding women and strength training.

Here are common statements that trainers will hear regarding why women do not want to strength train especially with weights…

“I don’t want to get too bulky.”

Let’s put this one to bed once and for all. First, ask the men trying to ‘get big’ about getting too bulky. They buy every supplement on the market and lift all the weights to try to ‘get big’ yet they still have trouble! There are two main points I like to emphasize when we are talking muscle mass generated from strength training.

1) Hormones are not on a woman’s side for muscle building!

Plain and simple, men and women are different. Men have a predisposition for more muscle mass because their hormonal environment promotes muscle mass. Specifically, testosterone and estrogen play a large role in muscle building.

2) There is more to gaining muscle mass than strength training!

It is difficult to gain muscle mass. The simple act of engaging in a strength training program will most likely not take a woman from her current condition to Hulk status. Often times, Crossfitters, bodybuilders, magazine fitness models and other women with larger than normal muscle mass are cited when women talk about strength training. These women are the elite and make up a small percentage of women who strength train. I do not think people realize that these women are committing their entire being to becoming good at their respective sport or goal of adding muscle mass. This is not the norm. Their nutrition, sleep, and sometimes even drugs can contribute to their ability to grow this amount of muscle. Now, don’t get me wrong. They need and have to engage in strength training in order to produce this type of body. It is a part of their regimen. But, it is more than that. If you are not eating, sleeping, and training intensely then typically, you will not see these type of results.

“I want to tone my muscles.”

You cannot really ‘shape’ a muscle. We stay away from words like ‘tone’ and ‘shape’ as trainers. Here’s my example. Have you ever seen someone who has ripped abs? Really low body fat and you could see their abs really well? They have a distinct shape and look to them compared to the next person. Look at a fitness magazine with many ripped people lined up. What do you notice? Each person’s abs are slightly different. The shape of their abs will not change if they do crunches, reverse crunches or upside dolphin kick crunches. They will still have the same abdominal muscles. Let’s not attempt to change the ‘shape’ or ‘tone’ of our muscles and let’s not do crunches either. We should strive to strengthen our bodies and, if desired, lower our body fat so we could reveal those strong muscles.

This brings me to my next point. If when someone is saying ‘toning’ and ‘shaping’ we are talking about a muscle’s size and its surrounding body fat levels then we are on to something. If we increase our muscle size and decrease our body fat then we will in essence ‘shape’ or ‘tone’ our muscles. How do we accomplish that? It is simple but it requires work. Combine consistent strength training and healthy eating and you will get that ‘toned’ look you are looking for. I really don’t want to type that word any more. If you think I have some convictions about that word then let’s dig out a classic article by Michael Boyle, one of the most well-respected strength and conditioning professionals. His thoughts have a little more fervor than mine. Tone. Is that a scientific word?

 “I don’t know what to do with weights. And, I don’t want to get hurt.”

Oh, well, well, well. This is a valid concern. You came to the right place! Simply enough, find a professional to help show you how to strength train and design an effective exercise program. The lessons and knowledge you will receive from a smart trainer will live with you for the rest of your life. We would obviously love to have you come by Spindle Fitness and share what we know! If that is not an option, seek out the information locally or through the Internet. If you want, reach out to me and I may be able to send you in the right direction. But in general, always take everything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. (Even this article. Yes, I am a human being. I may not know everything. Who are we kidding? You should listen to this entire article. This is Spindle gold.)

We promote training with a professional because if someone is there to teach, help and support you then that journey can become even more satisfying and empowering! The support could obviously come in the form of a trainer but like I said in the previous article, it usually comes from the people training around you that are going through the same journey as you. If you want to start to change your life through strength training and fitness then please do not use, “I don’t know how.” as your excuse. It is pretty lame. Bottom line, find the necessary information! Go out there and seek out the people who can help you!

Call them myths. Call them misinformed statements. Call them whatever you want. At the end of the day, engaging in a proper, safe, efficient strength training program will typically not turn you into the Incredible Hulk, tone your muscles, or get you injured. But now that we have dispelled some of the misinformation, we all have the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits associated with strength training! Thank you to all the Spindle ladies getting the word out there and sharing how you have benefitted from strength training. I always like to end my articles with a charge to the readers. My charge to those who know the value of this lifestyle, please spread the word and continue to be positive advocates and examples for this strong life. My charge to those uncertain about strength training, look hard for the right information, reach out to me or a trusted fitness friend and give it a shot!