5 myths about weight lifting – busted

1 December 2015 by
First published: 5 December 2015

Christmas is on the horizon and winter has finally arrived. It’s a time to overindulge, comfort feed and put on a bit of weight – ready to burn it all off in the New Year.  So one thing worth incorporating into your exercise routine to help burn off those extra calories and give you the body you desire is weight lifting. And no, you have not accidentally clicked on a bodybuilding website.

As the fitness industry is full of inaccurate advice on how women should exercise, below I’ve listed and debunked 5 myths about ‘why women shouldn’t lift weights’.

‘Lifting weights will make you bulky – like a man’

Most women that come to train with me want to lose weight and body fat. All of them will lift weights or do some form of resistance training and yet not one of them looks like a body builder. They are all the shape they want to be.  A renowned personal trainer, Tony Gentilcore, summarises it well: ‘Saying you’re going to get big and bulky from strength training, is like me saying I’m going to win the gold medal in the Olympics because I went out and did some sprints yesterday.’ One scientific reason for this is testosterone: the hormone that builds muscle.  Women produce approximately five per cent of the amount of testosterone that men produce and therefore will always find it harder than men to grow muscle.

‘Lifting weights isn’t very ladylike and women need to train differently to men’

Although women and men are different for the obvious reasons, our bodies respond in the same way to training and over-load. Research shows that women suffer from muscle soreness and fatigue less than men in regards to weight training. This means women should be able to lift and weight train just as often as or even more often than men.

So-called masculine exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench pressing actually develop the body parts that females like to work on the most, i.e. shaping and toning the glutes, legs and arms.  Women that lift weights look more natural and feminine.

‘Women shouldn’t be in the weights room, women should do step classes and yoga’

The perception that men lift weights and women should do classes leaves us with men who have no flexibility and/or shoulder injuries, and women who have too much flexibility, feel weak and hit a plateau in regards to their fitness goals. Classes are generic. For a beginner they are good and help with initial weight loss but a number of my female clients have approached me because after three months of doing three to four classes a week they have stopped seeing progress.  This is because the body requires more overload, which is achieved through weight training. Weight lifting makes them look better and feel stronger.

‘Weight training is dangerous and can cause injury’

Most injuries are caused through a lack of proper technique or by attempting exercises that are too advanced. However, if proper technique is coached, and a well-thought-through programme is designed, then weight training is a very effective tool that can prevent injuries and aid weight loss. Women are more prone to knee injuries because they naturally have wider hips than men. This means women’s thigh bones naturally angle in at the knee (known as a Q angle), causing the knee to become less stable and more susceptible to injury.

Lower body weight training (squats, deadlifts and single leg exercises) help to stabilise the knees and prevents injuries.

‘To lose fat you need to do loads of cardio’

If you want to be good at cardio then do more. But if your goal is to lose body fat, lifting weights and high intensity training (aka metabolic conditioning and circuit training) is the way.  You can do a good weight training circuit session in 30-45 minutes and it will burn more calories due to an increase in excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Want more advice from Tom? Follow him on:

Twitter: @tommanspt

Instagram: @tommanspt

Blog: tommans.wordpress.com