Bethany Cleg is a small business owner at Bethany Cleg Photography. She frequently writes about fitness, and enjoys finding new ways to exercise. When she's not writing or taking pictures, you'll find her hiking with her family. Bethany debunks five common women’s workout myths in today’s post.
Myth 1: Lifting weights will make you bulk up.
One of the biggest myths about working out originated in the competitive body-building community. Many women avoid lifting weights due to the mistaken belief that they might end up looking like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. The truth is that the only way a woman can build muscles as big as a man, is if she injected herself with testosterone. Many competitive bodybuilders also use steroids to increase muscle mass or “bulk up.” However, the vast majority of weightlifting doesn't result in increasing muscle mass or bulk, but rather, in toning and strengthening muscles. Using light weights with high repetitions burns calories and builds muscle endurance. Lifting heavier weights strengthens and develops the muscles.
Myth 2: You can spot reduce fat.
Many people believe that you can reduce fat by focusing on those areas during your workout. The truth is that our bodies store fat in certain areas according to our genetic predisposition. As you reduce your caloric intake and increase the number of calories you burn, you will lose weight from the same areas in which you put them on, but in reverse order.
Working out can raise your metabolism for up to 72 hours. A pound of muscle raises metabolism and burns more calories than a pound of fat. Conversely, loss of muscle results in a lower metabolism, and more difficulty losing weight. Muscles can shrink due to inactivity through a process called atrophy, which is the opposite of hypertrophy, the muscle building process. However, contrary to popular belief, muscle tissue cannot be transformed into fat.
Myth 3: Squats will wear down the cartilage in the knee.
Although many believe squats can wear out the cartilage in your knees, if done properly, squats can actually lubricate and strengthen knee joints. Ironically, most people view weightlifting as a sport for the young, but in fact, the older our bodies become the more susceptible they are to muscle loss through inactivity. As we age, it becomes even more important to maintain muscle strength in order to preserve an active quality of life. Most people who workout are not preparing for a competition, but to become a little stronger and more flexible than they were yesterday. The goal is not to win a competition, but to enjoy being in the race for as long as possible.
Myth 4: Working out is a competitive sport.
The mistaken idea that working out is a competitive sport discourages women from working out in public. It also creates pressure to buy fashionable gym wear. In reality, the most important consideration is functionality. Your workout clothing should be quick-drying, fitted to your body and easy to move in. Loose clothing can prevent you from seeing whether your body is in the correct form for specific exercises to obtain the maximum benefit, while avoiding the risk of injury. Your shoes and bra should be supportive without being too tight. A good sports bra will help protect your chest ligaments from stress and strain.
Many women are also discouraged from working out because they believe they must exercise every day for it to be effective. The truth is that after weight training, the body requires time to recover, repair, and rebuild muscle between workouts, usually 48 to 72 hours. Working out two to three times a week is sufficient for tightening, toning and strengthening your muscles, and even building a few new ones.
Myth 5: Eating healthy is too expensive and takes too much time.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary to invest hundreds of dollars in protein powders, or watch everything you eat. If you can’t always find time between work, family, and friends to cook, it’s a good idea to supplement your diet with a good multivitamin. To get sufficient protein required for repairing and building muscle, a good rule of thumb is one gram of protein per pound of weight. Fish oil acts as a good joint lubricant and whey supplements can be helpful for repairing muscle tissue.
Hopefully, one reality that women will transform into an old myth is that they are too busy taking care of others to take care of themselves.