For many women, the weight room is the most intimidating part of the gym. We not only have to face the presence of burly men grunting out their reps amid pools of sweat, but also a number of unfortunate misconceptions about how we’re supposed to strength train and what that training will do to our bodies.
Given the amazing benefits that come from muscle-building—less body fat, a faster metabolism, and stronger bones, to name a few—it’s worth taking a few moments to allow the National Academy of Sports Medicine to do a little myth-busting.
Myth #1: Lifting weights will make me look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Attention, women! Repeat after us: Lifting weights will not make me bulky. Here’s how NASM explains it: “While every woman carries different genetics, for the majority of women, gaining extensive muscle mass requires increased levels of testosterone.” Translation: You’re not man enough to build big, hulking muscles (and that’s a good thing!). Even if you’re one of those rare women genetically wired to have larger muscles, you will not end up looking like Conan the Barbarian—we promise.
Myth #2: Okay, then, I should stick with the girly weights.
Wrong again. According to NASM, you’ll get the most from your strength training efforts by varying the amount of weight you lift: “To improve muscle tone, you should use both light and heavy weights as part of your resistance training program.” Plus, doing so will keep your body from getting used to the same routine, leading to the dreaded plateau.
Myth #3: I should steer clear of weight machines.
The truth is, both weight machines and free weights have their benefits, says NASM. Machines are great for overloading your muscles, which makes them more efficient; using free weights, on the other hand, burns more calories because you have to engage other muscles to stabilize your body. So the best one to do depends on your goal.
Convinced that it’s time to strength train but aren’t sure which moves to do? Check out this video from NASM elite trainer Betty Gutierrez of one of her favorite short total-body strength routines.
Have questions about using weights? Today is your chance to get live answers! Join our Twitter chat from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. EST to learn more about women and weights. Follow hashtag #SCFFweights @SharecareNow.
Also, check out the Sharecare Fitness Center for workout tips, video demonstrations, and loads of other info.
What has strength training done for your body? Let us know in the comments section below.
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File under: Fit Friday