THE MYTH SURROUNDING WOMEN AND WEIGHT TRAINING

This post was written by Peak Performance Intern Sheylan Kelso. She is a graduating senior majoring in Kinesiology. She will start her Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program at Wayne State in the Fall of 2014.

Any woman that lifts weights will gain muscle and look like a bodybuilder. False! This is one of the most common myths associated with how women feel about lifting weights. I have heard many women say that they do not want to look like a female bodybuilder so they choose to simply do aerobic workouts. However, this assumption that they have is far from the truth. “Weightlifting can create formidable physical strength but without the visible, physical displays of body building,” (Brace-Goven, 2004). Women who lift weights will be able to tone their bodies, prevent metabolic decline that comes with age, reduce stress and live a happy life.

Women who weight train will become bulky and too masculine. False! Women cannot naturally produce testosterone, thus making it impossible to gain large amounts of muscle mass. The female bodybuilders that other women identify weight training with are often times taking steroids. This allows them to change their bodies in ways that are abnormal. A woman that weight trains without steroids will be able to shape her body and tone her muscles. The repeated load on the bones will strengthen them much more than running would, because most of the action that occurs during running is in the air, where the only force acting on the body is gravity and air resistance. A strength training woman will also strengthen her joints, ligaments and tendons which will help to prevent injury later in life.

Another added benefit of weight training for women is the prevention of metabolic decline that occurs as humans age. When individuals reach their 30s, their metabolism naturally starts to decline (Disanto, 2012). By lifting weights, a woman can sustain a high metabolism, allowing her to stay in shape and eat foods she enjoys. The calories from an occasional piece of cake or cheat meal will quickly be burned off and used for energy rather than being stored as fat.

Finally, weight lifting can reduce stress and allow one to live a happy life. Today, many people are consumed with their work, friends and family pulling them in every direction that they forget to take some time out of the day for themselves. I have found that by allowing myself about an hour per day to go to the gym, I am able to balance a busy lifestyle without becoming too stressed or overwhelmed with other daily tasks. By lifting weights I am able to improve my mood, prevent anxiety, and generally feel better about myself. When one finishes a training session, they should feel accomplished and prepared to tackle anything that may be thrown their way.

Women who weight train will not build the abnormally large amounts of muscle that many believe. This myth needs to be abolished and women need to be educated on how weight training can benefit them now and for many years in their future. I suggest that you tell a friend or try it out for yourself, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Good luck!

Brace-Govan, J. (2004). Weighty matters: control of women’s access to physical strength. The Sociological Review, 52: 503–531. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00493.x

Disanto, Bryan. (2012). 18 reasons why you need to lift weights, especially if you’re a woman. Lean it up.com. http://www.leanitup.com/why-you-need-to-lift-weights-women-too/