Common Misconceptions Concerning Strength Training for Women
“Women can’t get strong” is one of the leading misconceptions, when in fact the “average woman” gains strength at a slightly faster rate than the “average man.” Here’s what Susan L. Peterson, co-author of Strength Training for Women, says about some other myths:
Myth: Lifting weights makes women “bulky.” Women don’t have the genetic potential to develop large muscles, because they don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone, needed for the development of muscle bulk. Also, the female hormone estrogen tends to limit a woman’s ability to develop muscle. Steroids and other substances may cause you to bulk up, but lifting weights won’t.
Myth: Instead of building strength, women should focus on toning exercises. You can’t fully achieve the numerous benefits of strength training without challenging yourself. Performing an endless number of repetitions of an exercise, using a relatively light resistance (in a word, toning), will not produce meaningful changes in your muscular strength. Meaningful change requires meaningful effort.
Myth: Strength training “defeminizes” women. The potential physical, mental and health benefits of strength training should not be confined to men. Proper strength training will make women look and feel better- by helping increase their ability to perform daily tasks at home, work and play, improving their body composition and lowering their risk of injury. Tight, firm muscles have nothing to do with looking less feminine.
Myth: Muscles turn to fat when you stop training. Muscles can’t turn to fat- they don’t have the physiological ability to change from one type of tissue to another. Muscles do require that you “use them or lose them.” If you don’t use a muscle, it will literally waste away (atrophy).
Myth: Strength training must be complex. The simpler your approach to strength training, the more likely your success. A program that’s too technical can compromise your desire to stick with it. Strength-training programs should emphasize effectiveness, efficiency and safety over complexity.