I hear the same strength training misconceptions from so many women. Today, we address those misconceptions and share stories from ladies that have learned to love lifting weights!
Strength Training Misconceptions You (& All Women) Need to Stop Believing
WELCOME to the Capable & Strong Series!
This series is all about strength training. We will be chatting about things from reasons why women should lift to suggested supplements. And you can expect strength training workouts!
Good Morning! It’s Fri-YAY!!
While I’m excited for the weekend, it’s supposed to be cold with the potential for snow. Eww. Let’s not talk about it. Instead, let’s chat strength training misconceptions – specifically for women.
Now, I got into strength training because my husband challenged me to lift for a couple months before a trip to California (I just asked him about this and he totally doesn’t remember!). I was a self proclaimed cardio bunny and I didn’t think I would enjoy lifting. I kind of didn’t see the point. I was certainly intimidated and didn’t really know where to start. The Hubs let me make up the first few workouts and they were a bit rough. It look me a hot minute to get into a groove.
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When I talk to other women about lifting weights, I tend to here the misconceptions I’m about to share – whether the misconceptions are keeping them from trying strength training or the misconceptions were crushed once they actually started.
#1: Lifting will make me bulky…or look like a man.
You knew this one was coming, right? It’s probably the most common strength training misconception out there. I addressed this topic briefly when I responded to a Tracy Anderson article last year. First up, ladies don’t have enough testosterone to produce large muscles – like men. It’s just not going to happen by doing strength training as part of your normal fitness routine. And let’s not forget diet and supplementation. Your diet needs to be on. point. and include a good amount of food, plus supplements. Any woman you see with excessively large muscles is doing an extremely specific training, nutrition and supplement regime. These women are not the norm.
Also, remember that there are different ways to structure your strength training routine that has a significant impact on how your body looks. Endurance training build…endurance and a slight change in muscle size. If you want a change in size, you want to go with hypertrophy focused training. If pure strength is what you are looking for, stick in the strength phase.
Find out more details on the different structures and pin for later!
#2. Cardio is King
Think cardio is the only form of exercise that will help you loose weight and keep you ‘thin’? I used to think that too. I was a runner and any structured workout I did consisted of alot of cardio. Think lot’s of burpees. Cardio exercise is catabolic – meaning it can breakdown muscle – depending on how it’s done. Strength training is a great way to lose body fat and build lean muscle. Muscle is our body’s fat burning machinery (thanks, Shawn Stevenson for that!). Muscle is expensive for our body to carry, meaning the more we have, the more calories we burn. If you are looking for body composition changes, strength training is the best route!
#3: More quality time at the gym
While I love working out, I usually don’t love spending a ton of time at the gym. In those early days of lifting weights, we spent a good hour and a half at the gym. Depending on the type of strength training you are doing, this can be the normal average time. However, it’s possible to lift heavy, get your heart rate up and get out of the gym in a reasonable time. Lift weights faster anyone?! I honestly feel I have a more well rounded workout, if it includes strength training & a smidgen of cardio…smidgen.
#4: Everyone is watching
Starting a new fitness program can be scary. The weight area is usually filled with bros that look like they know what they are doing. If you haven’t been lifting regularly or aren’t exactly sure where to start (we will get to that in a second), walking to the weight area can be intimidating. Especially when you feel like all eyes are on you! The truth is – hardly any eyes are on you. I’ll admit I watch people out of the corner of my eye sometimes when I lift – I like to make sure people have good form! So unless I’m there – everyone else is focused on themselves…hoping that other people are watching them.
A 5th strength training misconception ties in with #4: where do you start? If you’ve never really lifted before or have taken a break and want to start again – where you begin? I’ve been there! While I had my personal training certification when I started lifting, I wasn’t 100% sure how to structure workouts, what exercises to pick, how to use certain machines and more.
Some of this honestly comes down to being willing to look silly (in that post, I talk about how I dropped the bar doing a squat…!) and learn. I’ve been strength training for 3 years and I still look silly some days at the gym.
There are a variety of free resources out there on how to create workout plans. I have a big workout index on the blog. You can even find a variety of free training programs to follow. I love this option for people that have a basic understanding and are ready to get started. However, there is a huge benefit to doing an online program with a coach AND community.
Obviously, the community aspect is great because you have other women going through the same things. There is a ton of support and encouragement offered. Plus, a handful of ladies that can empathize with a tough leg day! I’ve talked before about the benefits of working with a coach but to reiterate the main point: a coach corrects, motivates, listens, asks questions, makes you think about your goal in a new way (reframes), encourages, pushes you beyond your limits, keeps you accountable and offers support. I LOVE being a coach. Helping women reaching their goals and ditch the negative mindset is THE BEST.
Want to work together? Let’s chat!
Before I sign off, I have just a bit more to share. For me, strength training became more than just getting strong. It increased my confidence and made me feel capable. As I was doing a little research for this post, I asked a few friends why they lift weights, how lifting makes them feel and if they’ve had any big mindset shifts since lifting. The responses were overwhelmingly awesome. Every post made me smile.
If you are on the fence with strength training, you know that your GAINZ will be so much more than bigger / stronger muscles. Here area few of the response I got (FYI – there were more that I just didn’t include!)
>>> I NEVER lifted until I got to college, and being 6’5″ I always had it in the back of my mind that I would get super big if I lifted…big no-no when you’re already my height! But being a college athlete I HAD to and was instantly hooked. Lifting makes me feel strong – mentally AND physically. It’s a way for me to push myself to the next level. I also think it’s so rewarding to physically see changes in my body from all the hard work I’ve put in! The confidence, the overall sense of knowing myself comes from the time I put in at the gym as weird as it sounds! – Christina Hill
>>> I started lifting when I was in high school. It was the only organized “sport” (I didn’t compete) all four years 😀. I took a break from it in college, I think (?), but started going to a high rep, muscular endurance focused class and have done that for the last 3-3.5 years. Recently, I did a refresher course on lifting through my gym and now I’m at it again. This is a long answer to a short question, but I love feeling super strong, seeing muscle definition come in, banging heavy weights around, and just feeling like a B.A. As far as confidence, it feels awesome when I hit a new PR or even just succeed at a higher weight than last week, but there’s room for growth. – Jenny Barrett (we went to college together)
>> I personally started weight lifting because I was underweight and I needed to gain some mass. Before I started lifting, I was a bit of a cardio junky and had lost a lot of muscle mass because of it. Once I came to college, I stopped running and took a weight lifting class because the weight room scared me, but I wanted to be stronger instead of skinny. After the class, the weight room became my favorite room on campus and I’ve gotten several of my girlfriends to come with me, and now they’re hooked too!! Lifting makes me feel so strong and capable, and I actually love my body more and more each day because I am doing an exercise that I love to do, not one I feel like I have to do. When I was running, I did it because I felt like I had to to look a certain way, but lifting weights has helped me gain freedom in how I exercise, and it’s amazing. – Anna Johnson (I used to babysit her!)
>>> My weight has been all over the place my entire life. I have struggled with food addiction and eating disorder as well as severe body image issues and a complete lack of motivation to change. On top of all this I have always LOATHED exercise and never found anything that my body feels comfortable doing. My husband and I decided at that beginning of the year to work with a personal trainer and learn how to properly lift and use it to achieve our weight loss goals. I am completely hooked now! There is something about being able to watch my strength grow that motivates me to push further than ever before. It’s also helping me step away from the scale and really focus on how my body is feeling and how my clothes are fitting- or not fitting!- as fitness goals. – Kay H. (my high school BFF!)
>>> Ugh – where do I even start? I lift because it is 100% for ME. Its something I do without expectations from others or input from others. Its the place I go in my head to just BE and DO me. I feel 100% in control, which in turn makes me feel so powerful and capable – like I can do anything. Lifting gives me this sort of confidence that I’ve never been able to capture doing anything else. Each improvement, each PR and each added rep just stokes these flames within me, which gets carried into other aspects of my life. Lifting has transformed me in so many ways that I can’t even imagine living without it. – Kat Condon (Blend + amaz food blogger!)
>>> I feel SO MUCH better about working out. I think it had made me more confident and I doubt myself less. – Sarah R. (Mindset2Muscles Beta Tester!)
>>> I love surprising people with how I am stronger than I initially look. And I just have so much more confidence! I feel a lot more capable to continue on. – Abbie M. (Mindset2Muscles Beta Tester!)
>>> I recently started CrossFit after years of saying I wanted to get strong to be a better runner. The experience has given me so much more than that. I feel physically and mentally stronger during my day job, with my kids, and I even feel strong while I’m sitting down. I look so forward to making progress and proving to myself how much I am capable of! – Michelle Homan
>>> I’ve been strength training for many, many years and the main change has always been a boost in my confidence. Once I started CrossFit over 4 years ago, I learned to love Olympic lifting so much that I got certified. Coupled with running, I found myself in the best shape of my life and was able to quickly bounce back after having my baby. – Julie Hickman
>>> Strength training helps me tone up and feel more comfortable in my skin after losing 40lbs. It also boosts my metabolism by increasing my muscle mass. I focused mostly on cardio during my weight loss and it killed my metabolism because I lost fat and muscle mass. I also prefer to look and feel strong, not skinny – as vain as that may sound! – Shannon D.
>>> I do strength training now, but I used to avoid it because I was super self-conscious. I thought I’d look stupid, do things incorrectly, and end up hurting myself. I ask had this misconception that I’d get bulky (I am petite but muscular, thanks to a childhood of gymnastics). That sounds pathetic but that was what went on in my mind. Now I love strength training because I feel strong and confident. I’ve never been a cardio junkie so I actually prefer strength training now. It’s refreshing to know I’m taking care of my body. – Catherine M.
>>> I love strength training because it makes me feel strong and empowered. Seeing your body able to lift heavier and heavier weights is incredible. Weight lifting makes me feel like a badass goddess. – Leah M.
>>> I strength train because the physical strength I’ve gained has helped me to feel mentally stronger. I’ve gained more confidence. – Amber F.
>>> I DO strength train, lifting heavy, and I love it. I love that I’m strong and can perform functional tasks. Like lifting a couch when it’s moving day. I also love it as another gauge of my fitness. I’m a runner, and it can be frustrating to put in a training cycle only to seemingly have nothing to show for it time wise on race day, but, being able to lift heavier than I could a few weeks ago is a great reminder that I am making progress. Watching the other folks in the gym be shocked by what I can lift doesn’t hurt either. – Jessie M.
>>> I strength train 6 days a week because it makes me feel strong, confident, and in my own case has helped lean me out significantly more than with just cardio. It also helps my running, hiking, and snowboarding abilities. There is also the added benefit of decreasing bone issues as I age. And lastly I literally have FUN when I strength train! – Tina P.
>>> I love strength training. There was a time when all I wanted to do was run and then a time when I only got excited about yoga. Now, my balanced approach to fitness with strength training, cardio and yoga keeps me injury free, and motivated to move daily. And, I love feeling strong! – Jill Conyers
>>> Strength training is my favorite workout! I’ve love seeing what my body can do, how I can push myself, and all the muscles I can incorporate. I’ve also learned to love my body for different reasons, and learned to accept my flaws and find things to love. – Danielle C.
>>> Lifting weights is my main workout style. I had an obsession with cardio years ago and my mindset was “get skinny” now lifting has empowered me not just physically to get stronger, but it showed me how much exercise is mental. I love it more than anything and it changed my life! Stephanie S.
>>> I do strength train. I used to always run but then had an injury and once I was recovered I knew I had to workout a different way. The doctor suggested spin or riding the elliptical, but that just didn’t give me the same feeling running did. I was nervous I was going to ‘bulk up’ but started strength training and using weights 3-4 times a week. Five years later I have NEVER felt stronger and feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I still incorporate some running and yoga in my weekly workouts but strength training is now my favorite as there are so many different exercises, variations, and equipment to use. It never gets boring. – Patty Anne
>>> I strength train about 5 times per week, because it makes me feel great and energized. I love the feeling of my muscles being sore and knowing that I’m doing something that will improve my well-being almost every day! I am now so much stronger than I was during the fall of 2016, and I’m continuously trying to push myself and do just a little better than I did yesterday. I feel much more confident about myself and my body feels more healthier and leaner than ever! I like doing cardio, pilates, and a little bit of yoga with ankle weights, as well as a quick jog around the neighborhood. I always feel so refreshed afterward! – Ashley Z.
PS. Yes, I’m all about lifting heavy shit, but I know it’s not for everyone. I’m all about people finding a form of fitness that makes them feel as amazing as strength training makes me feel. If you are all about that barre – do your thang. If you love running until you can stop – keep it up. Maybe you enjoy rock climbing – come teach me your ways so I can improve my grip strength!
The most important thing is to find a way of moving that your body loves!
So, tell me about your weekend! Anything fun going on? I’ve got client consults and blog/business work that I’m looking forward to. And my Sunday class!
SO, TELL ME:
Do you have any or have your heard of any other strength training misconceptions?!
What is going on this weekend?