Top 3 Misconceptions About Women Strength Training

Kelsey Lensman ATC


1. “I'm afraid I will bulk up if I lift heavy.”

My girls! If I were given $1 for every time I heard this, I’d be a millionaire. To be honest even I said this when I started lifting in high school. There is this fear that lifting heavy weights will automatically lead to a “bulky” physique. I get it. I thought the same thing. However, this is like saying by eating an apple a day I will be healthy for the rest of my life. Seems silly, huh? It is because we know there is SO much more that effects your health. Alike with body composition and physical appearance, it not only depends on resistance training, but also nutrition, hormones, genetics, metabolism, etc. There are multiple factors that you can manipulate to determine how you physically look. However, there is one thing I am certain of: lifting over 20 lb. does NOT mean you will automatically bulk up. Let me tell you a few reasons why. The first reason is that women possess substantially lower amounts of testosterone, which inhibits the amount of muscle growth when compared to males.  Second, gaining weight is very dependent on your nutrition. Consume the appropriate amount of macros and your body will work in your favor! Another reason why it’s okay to lift heavy is muscle tissue burns more calories than body fat even when at rest. Therefore, if you have muscle it will actually burn more calories than body fat while sitting! High intensity strength training also has a greater EPOC level (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). With having a greater EPOC level after exercise, it will keep you at a higher metabolic rate ultimately resulting in burning more calories!

Ladies.  Don’t be afraid of heavy weight. Lifting heavy is empowering. Hitting a weight you did not think you were capable of builds your confidence. Look at that weight, give it a wink, and lift it up like the badass you are.

2. “I feel like everyone is judging me in the weight room.”

This is probably the #1 reason as to why when you look in a gym you see a majority of girls over on the cardio machines and then all the guys in the weight room. It can be intimidating especially if you’re not entirely confident with what to do in there. There are weird looking machines, different cable attachments, and people that look like they know what they’re doing. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. The people who overemphasize that they know what they’re doing in there and judge others are actually the ones that know the least. There is no standard that you have to hit to belong in the weight room. You don’t have to look a certain way, lift a certain amount of weight, or be a certain type of person to deserve to be in there. You don’t have to already be working out for a certain amount of time. You deserve to be there because you are trying to work and improve yourself. You may not know how to do each exercise perfectly, but neither does the person next to you. That doesn’t make you any less capable or any less deserving to be there. Everyone starts somewhere. Remember that. Each one of those people you see in the weight room had a “day 1” in there. Whether it is your day 1 or day 1,000 walk up to that dumbbell rack like you own it. Hard work is the only requirement when you step in the weight room and giving MAX EFFORT is what real weightlifters respect. Walk in, work hard, and let no one tell you different.

3. “The number on the scale determines my success or failure with training!”

I could write an ENTIRE book about this one. It can be all summed up in one picture (see below). What does that picture mean? The number on the scale should NOT be the only factor taken into account when determining your success or failure of your training and nutrition. You may look completely different and have a lower body percentage, but the scale might read the same number or even be higher. Many individuals get so caught up in worrying about the number on the scale that they often forget to also look at the transformation happening in the mirror. It needs to be understood that multiple things determine weight: sleep or lack thereof, sodium levels, hormones, water retention, etc. That is just to name a few. So my advice to you is to not panic if the scale is up 1-2 lbs the next morning. It is not mean you “gained” 1-2 lbs of fat overnight. It does not mean you need to restrict your intake and do loads of cardio to burn it off. It means take a breather and don’t let the number game mess with your head. Yes, weighing yourself is a great resource to use to track progress, however, it should not be the only resource used when tracking progress.

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