10 myths of strength training for women

It has been known for a long time that strength training gives everyone a lot of benefits in terms of health, aesthetic figure, strength, well-being and self-confidence. However, many women are still afraid of it, or more precisely – of exercising with the use of heavy weights required by this activity. Let's debunk a few commonly repeated myths, circulating on the Internet and various publications, and passed on by people promoting only training without the use of any load or with very little resistance (e.g. resistance bands, ankle weights).

This misconception is mainly due to ignorance of the case of a strength training woman, which began in 1968 when the first aerobics classes were established. An interesting fact is that they were developed as a form of conditioning programs by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, a doctor of American cosmonauts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the 1970s. From that moment on, women wanted to look as slim as possible, without any visible muscles. The golden standard of a woman with the figure of a model was popularized, thanks to which most of them had such an idea of beauty in their heads and tried to achieve it through exercises based on an intensive oxygen exchange (i.e. aerobic exercises, e.g. aerobics, cycling, walking, swimming). And so, a global problem appeared, one that has now been in effect for so many years – the idea of achieving the lowest possible body weight, combined with compulsive weighing every day, which has absolutely nothing to do with optimal health.

The most important thing is to realize that the appearance of your figure should not be associated with fashion, but only with health. That is why it is so important to take care of the development of at least basic muscle mass, which in the easiest way can be achieved with resistance training. Once you start applying it, you will find that none of the following arguments are true and that these supposed "flaws" do not exist. In the fight for a beautiful and harmonious figure, it is difficult to even indicate the type of activity that would be able to compete with training carried out with added load.

Myth 1: Strength training will make a woman appear larger

Once you start strength training and build muscle mass, yes – you may find yourself weighing a little more. It is also possible that your weight will remain virtually unchanged or will decrease significantly. Each scenario is determined by the level of body fat, as well as the amount of muscle mass at the beginning of the adventure with strength training. What is certain, however, is that you will not look bigger. This is due to the fact that when comparing the same mass of muscle and fat, muscles occupy less volume than fat, because the density of muscle tissue is greater than that of adipose tissue.

In fact, 1 kg of muscle has a volume of 0.9 liters, while 1 kg of fat is 1.1 liters, so the difference in volume is about 15%.

This, in turn, means that despite the possible slight increase in weight, your figure will become slimmer. The body will be firm, compact, smooth, free of cellulite, and you will feel more feminine. The same is true of the fairly popular and unfortunately misunderstood issue of "thick thighs". It is not strength training that makes your thighs look powerful, but the excess body fat found in the most stubborn areas of your thighs. The muscles never fatten, on the contrary, they give the body a desired shape and firmness.

Myth 2: A woman should train in a large repetition range without weights or with very light weights (0.5-2 kg) 

Although this type of training has its advantages, unfortunately, nothing beats strength training in terms of body sculpting. Remember that body toning , which women care so much about, is related to gaining muscle mass, because without it, after losing unnecessary kilograms, you will not see any muscle definition.

So the key to progress is not to constantly train with the same light weight. Your silhouette has a chance to change only when you systematically increase the load. Strength progress is essential for building muscle mass. It is the skin that is taut on trained muscles that gives the body firmness and definition with the dream effect of modelled figure. The same workouts and weights used over the years will make you stall and not develop.

Myth 3: A woman should not train with heavy weights because it is dangerous

Every beginner, no matter what sport discipline they choose, should learn the basic technique from a professional trainer, reading professional literature and watching specialized instructional videos.

As long as you follow the rules of safe training and take care of the correct body posture, strength training is by no means dangerous. You can only gain greater physical fitness, strength, beautiful body and health for many, many years.

Myth 4: To burn fat, a woman should do aerobics instead of strength training

Aerobic and cardio workouts certainly help you burn calories, and the bigger deficit you create, the more calories you will burn. However, in terms of efficiently burning calories, strength training remains largely underrated. Aerobic training burns calories as you perform it, while strength training has a lasting burning effect even after you stop exercising

This is because damage to the muscle fibers caused by weight-bearing exercise is repaired over the next 36-48 hours, aiding to increasing your metabolic rate. In addition, after strength training, the body aims to restore the hormonal balance (homeostasis) as well as restore the supply of nutrients. For the above processes to take place, more oxygen and energy is required than the person is able to supply, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or after-burn effect.

It is also worth remembering that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. Scientific research proves that each kilogram of muscle mass burns about 11 kcal at rest, while each kilogram of fat burns only 4 kcal at rest.

Myth 5: A woman's muscles turn to fat when she stops strength training

It is certain that a small muscle mass predisposes you to accumulate fat to a much greater extent than having developed muscles. However, remember that muscle and fat are very different types of tissue. Yes, unused muscles are wasted away (atrophied), but turning muscle into fat is absolutely impossible from an anatomical point of view.

Myth 6: A woman should only train the body parts she wants to burn fat from

This erroneous approach runs through the mass media very often. Surely you have read more than once: "If you want to slim down your stomach, do several hundred crunches a day". Or perhaps you heard: "Order this wonderful device that will burn unwanted fat for you". Nothing could be more wrong! No exercise or device can get rid of fat from a selected area of the body.

Despite the fact that strength training perfectly shapes the figure and builds muscle mass, unfortunately, local fat reduction is not possible. Our genes determine the distribution of adipose tissue, and the only way to burn it remains the same – the caloric deficit generated by diet and/or training.

Myth 7: Strength training is for men and a woman who does it look masculine

Fortunately, this is completely impossible from a biological point of view. Women are not hormonally predisposed to building muscle to an extent comparable to that of men.

This is due to the fact that a man has an average of 20 times more testosterone than a woman, which directly translates into the effective development of muscle mass (hypertrophy). In order to match a well-built man with muscle mass, a woman would have to resort to doping, which proves that naturally, a woman will never build enough muscle to look masculine.


Myth 8: In order to see any results, a woman must weight train many hours a week

This is definitely not true. All you need to do is spend 1 hour 3-4 times a week on doing strength exercises to see absolutely amazing results. Considering how much time the average person wastes browsing Instagram, Facebook or watching TV series, it is very little, and you gain a lot without a doubt. The balance of profits and losses works for the benefit of strength training.

Myth 9: A woman should "bulk" to gain muscle

The popular phrase "to bulk" means nothing more than maintaining a caloric surplus, which, in combination with properly conducted strength training, contributes to the development of muscle mass. However, the above statement is far from the truth, and this is especially true for people who are new to strength training and those who return to training after a break (e.g. an injury or the end of a sports career).

Thanks to the so-called recomposition, which is a change of body composition, you can maintain a constant balance or caloric deficit, while burning excess body fat and building muscle mass.

Myth 10: A woman should not do the same exercises as a man

This is quite a popular stereotype, but again – not true. Taking into account the harmonious development of the figure, the exercises are not divided based on appropriateness for a given gender, which means that each of them can be successfully performed by both a woman and a man.

The difference is only in the development of an appropriate training plan, in which more emphasis will be placed on specific parts (e.g. buttocks in a woman's training or the chest in a man's training), and less on others. Additional differences will be the training volume (the total number of sets and reps performed with the weight in a given unit of time) and the intensity (the percentage of the maximum weight you are working with) of the plan. Apart from these variables, both sexes can perform identical exercises. 


The cited justifications, together with evidence in the form of scientific studies, clearly show that a woman who strength trains will never resemble a bodybuilder, even if she uses very heavy weights during her training units. The process of developing muscle mass is a very slow, difficult and demanding phenomenon that is extremely difficult to achieve on a professional level. Therefore, using it on an amateur or pro-health level should not discourage or frighten, because the undeniable advantages that result from its use speak for themselves.

Therefore, women should not be afraid of weights, the same exercises that men do, or the resistance training itself. By introducing this type of physical activity into her routine, a woman's body will undoubtedly gain quality, strength training will have a positive effect on the concentration of bone mass, and the work of the brain and heart will improve. In addition, this type of exercise will allow you to maintain muscle mass, which is extremely valuable for health.


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