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Women And Weights: 8 Myths Debunked!

Don't let bad information scare you away from training the way you want! Learn the real story behind these eight female fitness training myths.

For women, the jump into the world of fitness can be a little terrifying. Opinions on ladies and lifting are often inaccurate and stuck in the 1950s ideal. As a result of these myths and unsubstantiated claims, it's difficult for many women to know how or where to begin.

You've probably seen at least one of the following lady fitness myths floating around the Internet, courtesy of some self-proclaimed "expert." It's time to put an end to the questions marks and the nervous glances around the gym.

Myth 1 /// Women Shouldn't Train Like Men

TRUTH: Women should train however they want.

I'm not exactly sure what "training like a man" even means. Are deadlifts inherently masculine? I don't think I've ever seen a sign that says "Lady squatters ye be warned." It's true that some women shouldn't train like men, but that's not because they aren't capable or are unworthy. It's simply because the "manlifts" they might be doing may not match their fitness goals.

Whatever goal a woman might have for fitness should be supported by her training program. If her goals include a stronger bench press or bigger biceps, then there's no reason she can't support those goals with actual lifts.

By that same token, if a woman's primary goal is fat loss, she may not want to spend too much time trying to find her clean 1RM. A woman can train however she wants, although she should make sure that training matches her goals.

Myth 2 /// All Women Are in the Gym to Lose Weight

TRUTH: Not all women have the same goals.

Newsflash: Not all women want to look the same. Just like men, some women are in the gym to get strong. Some want to get ripped, some want to improve athleticism, and some want better health. That's the great thing about fitness—it's personal.

That's why it's so important to do research—so you're confident in the type of training you do. If your best friend is trying lean down while you're training for a powerlifting competition, you're probably not going to work out with her. That's a-okay.

Myth 3 /// Women Need Special Protein Powder

TRUTH: Protein is protein

Want to know how to market a product to women? Slap a pink label on it and make sure the word "lite" is written in cursive. In actuality, when it comes to protein powder, men and woman can both scoop from the same tub. There aren't any man-only ingredients in protein powder, so there's no reason to fear randomly sprouting chest hair.

Each protein brand and type has specific amounts of protein, calories, carbs, and fat. Depending on your goals, you can find a type of protein powder that fits your nutrition protocol. If you're trying a low-carb diet, you can easily find low-carb protein powder.

If you're allergic to dairy products, then look for a non-dairy protein powder. A protein's ingredients and macronutrient profile—not its label—should inform your decision to buy it.

Myth 4 /// Olympic Lifting Is Dangerous

TRUTH: Just like anything, Olympic lifts can be dangerous.

Whenever I suggest that women add Olympic lifts to their training program, I'm usually hit with a resounding, "No way, that's too dangerous!" Yes, you can hurt yourself if you load the bar too heavy and try to lift without proper technique. The same can be said about doing biceps curls.

No matter your level, it's fun to try new things and add to your knowledge base. Now, I'm not saying load the bar with plates and go for it, but if you are interested in trying a snatch or a clean, pick up a broomstick or PVC pipe and try it. If it seems like something you'd like to get better at, find a coach or ask someone more experienced for help. You might surprise yourself.

Myth 5 /// Lifting Makes Women Look Masculine

TRUTH: Lifting builds muscle and burns fat.

Countless studies have shown that women who do resistance training are stronger, leaner, and healthier than women who do not. What that resistance training does to your physique is completely up to you and your DNA.

Even in the world of fitness, female physiques range from the brawny, like Dana Linn Bailey; to the athletic, like Camille Leblanc-Bazinet; to the slender, like India Paulino. Each of these women uses resistance training to sculpt a desired body.

The differences in their physiques come from genetics, how they eat, and the movements, volume, intensity, and load they use in their programming. Just like these women, you need a training regimen that reflects how you want to perform and what you want to look like.

Myth 6 /// Women Shouldn't Take Creatine

TRUTH: Your body makes creatine naturally.

To people who aren't familiar with the body's natural chemical processes, creatine might seem like a scary ingredient only used by giant bodybuilders. The reality is that creatine is an important part of how your body makes and uses energy. It's the primary fuel source for short-term, high-intensity exercise.

Your body already makes it, but if you're doing fairly rigorous resistance training multiple times per week, you may not be getting enough. Studies have found that creatine supplementation, even in women, can help build and maintain lean muscle mass and increase the performance of those muscles.1-3 The only substantiated side effect is very small weight gain, which occurs because muscles are able to hold more water and are therefore more voluminous.

Myth 7 /// The Treadmill Is All a Lady Needs

TRUTH: Ladies should be lifting, too.

Even if you want to be a competitive runner, studies have shown that resistance training helps increase your aerobic performance.4 Cardiovascular training absolutely has its place, but it's not the only path toward fitness.

In fact, constant running doesn't help build strength or help you find that balanced physique. Moreover, multiple studies have found that consistent endurance training may not be the best method for fat loss.5-6

Although it's completely understandable to feel embarrassed or intimidated in the pit of racks and barbells, sticking to that same old treadmill or elliptical may not be helping you get the results you want.

Add some resistance training to your regimen. By building more lean muscle, you'll burn more calories and get leaner faster.

Myth 8 /// Being Lean Is the End All Be All of Fitness

TRUTH: Leanness works differently in each woman.

I think Molly Galbraith nailed this subject in this blog post. Not every woman reacts to being lean the same way. For a lot of women, being hyper lean has extreme hormonal effects on the body. Even professional appearance athletes don't stay lean all year. They usually lean out a few weeks prior to an event and then peak right before they hit the stage.

If you want to see your abs, try to get there. But remember, every person is different. What takes your friend six weeks to achieve may take you a year. You might look shredded but feel tired, weak, and skinny. Be honest with yourself about your goals. Honesty is a great step toward training and eating effectively.

References:

  1. Branch JD: Effect of creatine supplementation on body compostion and performance: a meta-analysis. Int J Sports Nutr Exerc Metab 2003, 13:198-226.
  2. Cox G, Mujika I, Tumilty D, et al: Acute creatine supplementation and performance during a field test stimulating mach play in elite soccer players. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2003, 12:33-46.
  3. Kambis KW, PizzedazS: Short-term creatine supplementation improves maximum quadriceps contraction in women. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metabol 2003, 13: 87-96.
  4. Osteras H, Helgerud J, HoffJ: Maximal strength-training effects on force-velocity and force-power relationships explains increases in aerobic performance in humans. European Journal Of Applied Physiology 2002, 88(3):255-63.
  5. Hickner RC, Racette SB, Binder EF, Fisher JS, Kohrt WM. Effects of 10 days of endurance exercise training on the suppression of whole body and regional lipolysis by insulin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2000, 85 (4):1408-504.
  6. Cosgrove, Rachel. Why you can't lose weight. Women's Running. 2013. http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/03/health-wellness/why-you-cant-lose-weight_11491.

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About The Author

Cassie Smith is a writer/editor for Bodybuilding.com and former professor & college athlete. Find out more about her right here.

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pinkninja81

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pinkninja81

great article

Jul 17, 2013 6:52pm | report
northcuttnm

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northcuttnm

Will be sending this article to some people I know! Thank you!

Jul 17, 2013 7:07pm | report
krithi

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krithi

Great read..Specially the last point.
Dropping to much lower BF for some women may cause hormonal disbalance..

Jul 17, 2013 8:55pm | report
Saltus

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Saltus

Myth 5 is the most annoying one. Women think if they touch a weight, they are going to get huge over night.
If only it were that easy....

Jul 17, 2013 9:30pm | report
bbassitt32

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bbassitt32

No crap, i wish it were that easy. If it were id have another 20 lbs of of muscle on me like it was nothing

Jul 18, 2013 8:06am | report
alainhong

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alainhong

Great article! Will forward it to my friends who still hold on to these myths such as #5.

Jul 18, 2013 7:36am | report
TonyGarber

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TonyGarber

going to send this to some females that use almost everyone of these as an excuse

Jul 18, 2013 7:49am | report
  • Body Stats
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sbrooke

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sbrooke

Good one Cassie! Great info, well written.

Article Rated:
Jul 18, 2013 8:02am | report
JDa617

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JDa617

Love this article! I Loveeeeeeee weight training.

Jul 18, 2013 8:28am | report
flyover40

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flyover40

Great information here. I used to think that all I needed was the treadmill. There were times when I would leave the gym if there wasn't a treadmill available. Thankfully, those days are long gone!

Jul 18, 2013 8:29am | report
NadjaFit

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NadjaFit

Unfortunately, I still know a lot of women (competitors) who works on a treadmill every day for 40 minutes... Crazy :/

Jul 21, 2013 8:15am | report
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Qotu79

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Qotu79

tHANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE. IT'S VERY REASSURING.

Jul 18, 2013 9:12am | report
nycag04

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nycag04

Awesome article.

Jul 18, 2013 9:58am | report
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dylanfan61

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dylanfan61

I've never heard #s 3, 6, and 7!

Jul 18, 2013 6:09pm | report
Dimples68

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Dimples68

Thanks for the great article

Jul 18, 2013 8:57pm | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 10'11"
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Elikaadam

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Elikaadam

Thank you for the information, I have never heard of women not picking up weights. So this seems a little odd to me that people think women shouldn't pick up weights.

Jul 19, 2013 1:35am | report
g1fthorse

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g1fthorse

Nice to see, just as men fella's as ladies commenting on this article. I'd love to see nore ladies down the gym pushing it hard, most of the girls at my gym don't even break into a sweat, booooooooooooooo go hard or go home girl

Jul 19, 2013 2:42am | report
fitgal40

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fitgal40

Excellent article! Thanks!!

Jul 19, 2013 5:43am | report
cassie1162

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cassie1162

Thanks so much for the positive feedback! Let me know if you have questions. Happy lifting!

Article Rated:
Jul 19, 2013 7:47am | report
MarinoMike

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MarinoMike

Gonna show this to my mom!

Jul 19, 2013 9:08am | report
Crazy1ear

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Crazy1ear

Another one - women shouldn't eat more than 1200 calories a day. The biggest challenge I have when training women isn't getting them to lift weights, but convincing them they need to eat! Of course they need to eat the right food at the right time, but the diets I see from people who come to me for advice are often scary. It's no wonder so many people have a hard time achieving their goals.

Jul 19, 2013 10:02am | report
McCluskey1128

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McCluskey1128

Ugh oh! I'm guilty of this.

Even if their goal is to lose weight? It make sense (in "girl brain") that the calories you burn you don't want to eat. Then there would never be a deficit. Am I wrong?

Jul 19, 2013 1:09pm | report
tiagomarques

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tiagomarques

nice!

Jul 19, 2013 12:20pm | report
daWizard

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daWizard

Good Stuff here.

Jul 19, 2013 1:56pm | report
knazirud

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knazirud

Really good article!!!!

Jul 19, 2013 2:40pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 33 Comments

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