Women’s capabilities in the fitness world have shattered more than one glass ceiling over the last century. In 1900, only 22 women competed in the Olympics. One of those women was Margaret Abbott - the first female to win an Olympic medal! But we’ve come a long way since then - in the 2012 Olympics, U.S. women took home more medals than U.S. men and made up 44 percent of participants!
Comments that were once insulting, (i.e. ‘hit like a girl’, ‘run like a girl’) are quickly becoming compliments, and women are quickly climbing their way to the top of a very male dominated industry.
Nonetheless, there are still many myths about women in fitness. We’re here to crack a few!
Myth #1: Lifting heavy will make you bulky.
FALSE: It’s common for female weight-lifters to be hesitant towards lifting heavier weights and lower reps. The mainstream belief is that you will get “bulky” and “buff-looking”. Not only are these terms broad and often different person-to-person, but they are also extremely inaccurate.
Men and women have differences in estrogen, testosterone, genetics, and much more. This means women and men can train exactly the same but- because of biological differences- will produce completely different results. While many men who do heavy weight lifting get more bulky and buff; for women, weight lifting will actually create a tight, lean, and toned look that many women find attractive.
If you are a woman looking to bulk up, more power to you! However, the only way you would get that “bulky” look you might have seen in the magazines is by training, fueling, and supplementing intensely.
Myth #2: Adding weights into your routine means going to the gym and using equipment.
Both true and false: Just because some people prefer to train this way doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Many women find benefits from using machines and free weights, while others prefer at home exercises.
Forms of strength training include:
Lifting heavy weights
Carrying a heavy backpack on a hike
Find something that you enjoy doing, and something that works for you. Exercise is not a one size fits all kind of activity. However, if you are planning on straying from traditional weight lifting, take into consideration that major muscle groups should be trained twice a week- quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, trapezius, and abs. Whatever activity you choose to do, make sure you are purposely strengthening each of these areas.
Myth #3: Older women shouldn’t be strength training.
FALSE: Older women should strength train! Weight lifting is the perfect solution for women (and men) looking to improve blood sugar levels, metabolism, muscle mass, bone strength and density, joint pain, muscle strength, and balance. The truth is you’re never too old to lift weights, but your body becomes older when you stop lifting weights.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):2
“A gradual loss in muscle cross-sectional area is consistently found with advancing age; by age 50, about ten percent of muscle area is gone. After 50 years of age, the rate of loss accelerates significantly.
Muscle strength declines by approximately 15 percent per decade in the sixties and seventies and by about 30 percent thereafter. Although intrinsic muscle function is reduced with advancing age, age-related decrease in muscle mass is responsible for almost all loss of strength in the older adult.”
This doesn’t only include older ladies- younger ladies, you can set yourself up for success now! By building strength now, and maintaining into your older age, you will decrease your risk for injury and poor health.
Ladies, never let someone’s judgement of your workout or a mere opinion define how and why you do something in the gym - let the hard based evidence speak for itself! And keep up those amazing workouts, your hard work inspires women everywhere. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #liftlikeagirl in honor of women’s history month!!
Power to all those strong ladies out there,
PK Fitness Program Coordinator