Saturday, May 29, 2010

PUMP IT: 7 Myths about Women and Weights

I want this shirt! Lifting weights is one of the best things a girl can do for her body (and bones!). I currently teach a "Chizel" weights class at the YWCA, but I try to incorporate weights into all the classes I teach--it does a body good. Let's not kid ourselves--cardio is absolutely necessary to stay fit and consistently burn fat. But cardio can only do so much. I see women who are outstanding runners, kickboxers, and steppers, but without some kind of strength training they may never achieve those tight Beyonce-esque curves.

Also, did you know that for every pound of lean muscle mass you add through weight training, your body burns an average of 40-50 extra calories/per hour AT REST. That's right, while you are sitting on your rump watching your favorite prime time show (Mine is True Blood--starting up again in two weeks! YES!), you could be burning 40-50 calories doing nothing at all. Weights have the power to transform your body in ways cardio can't and provides a significant BOOST to one's fitness confidence (DAMN, I'm strong! :)). Some of the top benefits of lifting HEAVY:

-Stronger bones (protection against osteoporosis)
-Increased resting metabolism rate
-More shapely muscles (LEANER muscles)
-Better functionality in daily life (like picking up kids or groceries)
-Better posture

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about women and weights. I've seen the same excuses over and over--"I'll bulk up!" "It's too hard for me--I can't!" "I don't have time!" "I want to sweat and weights won't do it for me!" ALL myths. I like to educate my participants, and hand this article by body builder Hugo Rivera. It debunks some of the top myths and excuses and provides insight into the true benefits of weight training:

Myths of Women's Weight Training and Female Bodybuilding
Women Bodybuilding Myths
By Hugo Rivera, Guide

The myths about women's weight training and female bodybuilding do not ever seem to go away. With this article, I'd like to share the facts regarding weight training and female bodybuilding.

Women's Weight Training Myth #1 -Weight training makes you bulky and masculine.
Due to the fact that women do not, and cannot, naturally produce as much testosterone (one of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size) as males do, it is impossible for a woman to gain huge amounts of muscle mass by merely touching some weights. Unfortunately, the image that may come to your mind is that of professional female bodybuilders. Most of these women, unfortunately, use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) along with other drugs in order to achieve that high degree of muscularity. In addition, most also have good genetics coupled with an unbelievable work ethic that enable them to gain muscle quickly when they spend hours in the gym lifting very heavy weights. Believe me when I say that they do not look like that by accident. Women who conduct weight training without the use of steroids get the firm and fit cellulite-free looking body that you see in most fitness/figure shows these days.

Women's Weight Training Myth #2 - Exercise increases your chest size.
Sorry girls. Women’s breasts are composed mostly of fatty tissue. Therefore, it is impossible to increase breast size through weight training. As a matter of fact, if you go below 12 percent body fat, your breast size will decrease. Weight training does increase the size of the back, so this misconception probably comes from confusing an increase in back size with an increase in cup size. The only way to increase your breast size is by gaining fat or getting breast implants.

Women's Weight Training Myth #3 - Weight training makes you stiff and musclebound.
If you perform all exercises through their full range of motion, flexibility will increase. Exercises like flyes, stiff-legged deadlifts, dumbbell presses, and chin-ups stretch the muscle in the bottom range of the movement. Therefore, by performing these exercises correctly, your stretching capabilities will increase.

Women's Weight Training Myth #4 - If you stop weight training your muscles turn into fat.
This is like saying that gold can turn into brass. Muscle and fat are two totally different types of tissue. What happens many times is that when people decide to go off their weight training programs they start losing muscle due to inactivity (use it or lose it) and they also usually drop the diet as well. Therefore bad eating habits combined with the fact that their metabolism is lower due to inactivity, and lower degrees of muscle mass, give the impression that the subject’s muscle is being turned into fat while in reality what is happening is that muscle is being lost and fat is being accumulated.

Women's Weight Training Myth #5 - Weight training turns fat into muscle.
More alchemy. This is the equivalent of saying that you can turn any metal into gold; don't we wish! The way a body transformation occurs is by gaining muscle through weight training1 and losing fat through aerobics and diet simultaneously. Again, muscle and fat are very different types of tissue. We cannot turn one into the other.

So, don't be afraid of the weights! You'd be surprised at how much inner and outer strength you really posses! One last this blog you'll hear me talk a lot about my fitness idol, Chalene Johnson. If you're working it out at home, I highly recommend her weight training DVDs, ChaLEAN Extreme! Any of Chalene's DVDs really give results...and this one looks like it kicks a**!

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