Thu. May 23rd, 2024

You’re not going to turn into a man, so keep working the reps.

Even in 2022, the fitness world is contaminated with fitness myths, especially antiquated misconceptions surrounding women’s fitness. Yes, even the idea that lifting weights will somehow turn a woman into a burly man is still circulating in the fitness community. Take one look at any of these top female personal trainers and you’ll instantly know dumbbells do a body good!

As a whole, the world of fitness is filled with solid resources and fitness professionals who consistently deliver value to the masses, but it can be hard to navigate fact vs. fiction and filter out the misinformation.

This is where 10 seasoned personal training professionals (who are just as fed up with fitness myths as you are) whip out their myth-busting knowledge and set the record straight!

Fitness Myth 1: If you want to lose weight, you need to do lots of cardio.

Joy Kushner, NASM certified personal Trainer, WLS, FNS, Fitness model, and mother: Joy Kushner

While cardio is usually the first thing that pops into your mind when you want to lose weight, the best game plan is a combination of cardio and strength training, depending on your goals. Cardiovascular training is beneficial for your heart, lungs, and burning calories while you are exercising, but resistance training, in any form, will help you add muscle to your frame, which in turn will increase your metabolism over the long run. Your body will continue to burn calories after lifting weights for up to 48 hours after your workout. On the flip side, calories burned while performing cardio stop once you stop doing cardio. So, if you want to lose weight, make sure to prioritize those weights.

Fitness Myth 2: Women won’t reap the benefits of compound training the way men do

Elizabeth Aguilera, American Fitness Institute personal trainer, marketing director for Bailey’s Gym and Sweat Personal Training, fitness model and mother: Elizabeth Aguilera

 Many people believe that women cannot benefit from compound movements such as bench press, pull-ups, deadlifts & squats (like men do), however, the benefits women reap are extensive. Since compound movements, such a bench press or pull up, use multiple muscle groups at once, not only do they take less time to perform, they also provide an increased calorie burn compared to isolation exercises.

Compound movements improve intramuscular coordination, improve flexibility, build strength within muscle groups, and help to increase your metabolism long-term as you develop muscle, sustain lean body mass and elevate fat burn.

Fitness Myth 3: Female student-athletes should train differently than their male counterparts.

Sari Terranova, NASM Certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and mother: Sari Terranova

I believe every female should be taught proper weightlifting techniques from the very start of their athletic experiences. Resistance training is essential to sports performance not only in terms of building strength and power, but it is also the most effective way to counter and prevent sports injuries that often occur due to the muscle imbalances created by single-sport training.

In my experience as a trainer, women often report wanting to train with weights, but feel intimidated by the male-dominated weight room at the gym, and are thus reluctant to explore beyond the classes and cardio machines that they are comfortable with.

This robs so many women of uncovering the physical strength, metabolic benefits, aesthetic body composition, and self-confidence that strength training brings.

I love training females of all ages, and seeing the absolute joy and empowerment on their faces when they hit a deadlift PR, or bench for the first time, is the reason why I am in this profession.

Fitness Myth 4: You can jump right into training without working on your weak areas

Jamie Eason Middleton, master certified family health and wellness coach, fitness model, cover model, and mother: Jamie Eason Middleton

We all have weaknesses, and it’s imperative to strengthen our weaker areas in order to improve our overall strength and functional fitness.  Too many times, we jump into programs and either find ourselves injured or achieving lackluster results. Having underdeveloped muscles, weak joints, or alignment issues can affect your overall training. It’s important to train these weaker areas by giving them just as much priority and attention as you would give any larger muscle group. It’s the only way to make true and lasting progress.

Fitness Myth 5: Lifting weights will make a woman look masculine

Chady Dunmore, NLP master personal trainer, 2x pro world champion, 16x cover model, and mother: Chady Dunmore

While weight training does build muscle mass, it will not turn you into a man or make you look bulky. Lifting weights improves your metabolism resulting in more calories/fat burned, shapes your curves, supports your mental health, boosts bone health, and helps improve your sleep quality.

Over the last 12 years, weight training has sculpted my body and made me stronger mentally and physically.

Fitness Myth 6: Resistance bands don’t build muscular strength

Kira Stokes, NASM certified personal trainer of 25 years, founder of Kira Stokes Fit App, and celebrity trainer: Kira Stokes

When resistance bands are utilized properly, they can most definitely build muscular strength (and endurance). In order for muscles to grow stronger, you must place proper resistance on them in the form of tension. Tension can be caused by gravity alone (bodyweight work), external load (free weights, machines), or elastic tension (resistance bands).

One of the many reasons bands are super effective is due to their nature: You have to control both the concentric and eccentric contraction, which not only increases the time your muscles are under tension (which in turn builds muscular strength and endurance) but is fantastic for increasing joint stability as well as overall coordination and proprioception; all incredibly important for building functional fitness. Bands do not replace free weights; free weights do not replace bands. The most well-rounded results-driven program should incorporate both.

Fitness Myth 7: You have to be young and thin (with a six-pack) to be a certified personal trainer

Tasha Edwards, MS., NBC-HWC, national certified personal trainer and founder of @seeherhealthy: Tasha Edwards

Our bodies are not our calling cards. Our bodies (weight) change over time for several different reasons, but stretch marks and a larger size legging do not make your passion, skill, and knowledge invalid. Be who you are and train others to do the same. You can be strong and healthy in any size body!

Fitness Myth 8: There is a “one size fits all” when it comes to weight loss.

Michelle Bishop, Certified elite personal trainer, creator of The Ladies Edge and mother: Michelle Bishop

Many believe the only way to achieve a fit physique is by sticking to a strict meal plan and spending hours daily in the gym. Though this works, it can be an extremely restrictive lifestyle that is ultimately unsustainable.
So, what’s the other option? Delete it ALL. The idea of not having a meal plan or workout regimen can seem extremely scary to many; however, many in the fitness community know how to eat right, they just need to heal their relationship with food.

How do you do that? One: you give yourself grace and time. Two: Delete the “backup plans” and step away from the restrictive diets. Speak about food kindly and quit labeling food as “good” or “bad.” Learn to honor your body, listen to its hunger cues while practicing grace as you rebuild trust in yourself. Unfollow anything that encourages old habits and find a workout routine that you love. Lastly, speak into your life and remind yourself daily that you have gotten rid of the pressure of having it all together. Fuel your body with the best, but c’mon, eat the cake and cookies too — because, LIFE. Trust me, the happiness, memories, and results around this lifestyle will be worth the work. You got this!

Fitness Myth 9: The only way to burn fat on a treadmill is to run

Michelle Cagle, master personal trainer, WBFF pro, mother, and author of “Bounce Back After Baby”: Michelle Cagle

Running is a fantastic form of cardio, and has a host of health benefits, but to burn fat, you may want to switch it up on the treadmill — here’s why: Running puts your heart rate in the maximum heart rate zone and not the fat-burning zone. One of the best ways to burn fat on a treadmill is to briskly walk on an incline.

I recommend alternating between 3.4 and 8.5 elevation and tracking your heart rate. When you work out in your fat-burning heart rate zone, your body taps into fat stores for energy instead of using basic sugars and carbohydrates. This leads to fat loss. Other heart rate zones are resting heart rate, moderate heart rate, target heart rate, and maximum heart rate.

Your fat-burning heart rate is at about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the maximum number of times your heart should beat during activity. To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, a 35-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate is 220 minus 35, or 185 beats per minute.

To enter the fat-burning zone, you want your heart rate to be 70 percent of 185, which is about 130 beats per minute. This heart rate is easily achieved by briskly walking on an incline.

Fitness Myth 10: If women lift heavy, they’ll get bulky

Jessie Hilgenberg, ACSM, RYT-200, Certified Personal Trainer, CEO of Jessies Girls, and mother of two: Jessie Hilgenberg

I often start this comment or question off with, “Well, you’re following me, do you like the way I look?” One hundred percent of the time, that answer is yes. I tell them how heavy I lift and for how many years I’ve been doing so, and that I’ve never been able to grow my muscles any larger than you see me now. In fact, women are unable to build the type of muscle men do because we have lower levels of testosterone. Both women and men have testosterone, but men have much greater levels. No matter what a woman does, if she’s all-natural and lifts heavy and with consistency, she won’t get huge muscles – she’ll just get awesome.

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