Myths about Women and Weightlifting: DEBUNKED
We have all heard it before! If a woman wants to get lean, she needs to lift light loads for higher reps… right? WRONG!
Let’s look at the myths that set this general idea into motion.
Myth # 1: Shape and Tone
This idea that women need to Shape and Tone, or Tone and Shape needs to be dropped already. No matter what any marketing strategist tries to tell you, there is no form of training that will simply “Shape and Tone” your body, you cannot change the shape of a muscle. What your body shape and muscles will look like is ultimately dependent on your hereditary genes. This does not mean that if your parents are overweight, you have to be. It means that people come in different shapes and sizes, and you can only change the strength of those muscles and the amount of body fat you carry.
Ultimately, the most important thing to losing body fat is diet. A few quick facts to give you an idea of how your diet effects your life at the gym: a basic cheeseburger has about 310 calories, which equates to about 35-50 minutes on the rower for most women, or a half hour running consistently at 8 mph. When you think about the little things you eat during the day, imagine how much time it will take to work it off.
Myth # 2: Light weights, High Reps
There it is, High reps with low weight= toning up without bulking up.
This myth doesn’t make mathematical sense. In order to gain even 1 Kg of muscle, you need a surplus of about 9000 calories. Not only do you need to consume way more calories in order to put on that muscle, but you also need to train specifically to put on size.
Most weightlifter’s goals are to become as strong as possible, while remaining as light as possible. Look at Rock climbers, dancers, runners, and gymnasts for evidence. Each one of these sports requires the athlete to be incredibly strong while maintaining a light and easily movable frame. Rock climbers must be able to maneuver themselves into precarious positions while also holding their body weight (occasionally more) still and with purposeful movements. So how do these athletes do this?
There are two different types of effects that weight training has on the body. There is the neutral component and the metabolic effect. The Neutral component is made up of those that improve the connection of the mind to the muscle. This makes a stronger message from the brain to the muscle allowing the muscles to contract harder and faster. The opposite is true for metabolic changes. You will see an increase in size brought on about by an array of mechanisms at certain rep changes in your routine.
The funniest thing about this myth is that it’s the higher reps that effect metabolic changes and the lower reps that effect the neutral component. In laymen’s terms: lifting low reps is less likely to change size than lifting higher reps.
So, Ladies, if you have the strength, let yourself life heavier, lower reps. Don’t set aside what you are capable of out of fear of “bulking up”, because ultimately its what you put in your body that is going to determine how much you grow. Fitness is all about balance, in your physical, mental, and emotional life.