When women started flocking to the gyms in the 1970s and ’80s, the craze was all about “women’s fitness”, which pretty much meant aerobics. Perhaps an issue of perceived femininity, there has long been a taboo about women lifting weights, undoubtedly fuelled by many of the old myths, some of which survive today. Here are just a few.
Myth #1: “I’ll bulk up.” Not going to happen. All people have a genetic potential for muscle size, and it’s very difficult to grow beyond that … naturally. Even with the aid of pharmaceuticals it takes hard, focused work over a long time to get big. One side effect, however, may be a leaner, more feminine figure, so be careful.
Myth #2: “Muscle eventually turns to fat.” Can’t happen. Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue. But muscle does burn fat for energy, so increased lean muscle helps your body burn more calories while at rest, turning your body into a 24-7 fat-burning machine. Training your muscle will actually reduce your body fat.
Myth #3: “Stronger muscles will make me slower and less flexible.” All right, how many gymnasts, rugby players, boxers, sprinters, swimmers or dancers would you refer to as slow and inflexible? Exactly. Muscle makes your body perform better.
Reality: Muscle tissue is vital for optimum health, but deteriorates as you age – if you do nothing about it. This leads to problems such as osteoarthritis, poor motor function and an increased tendency to put on fat. Cardiovascular exercise is important, but by itself is not enough to combat this. Regular strength training, however, has been shown to minimise and, in some cases, even reverse these effects.
Of course, weight training demands a lot from your body, and therefore needs to be supported with a proper eating program to be effective. Talk to your doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer.
Ladies, it’s time to step it up! Weight training builds confidence and improves your body. That’s why men do it. So, if you can hang with the boys in the boardroom, why not hang with them in the weight room?
By Brian Merrill, certified fitness trainer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org