WOMEN AND TRAINING: DEBUNKING THE 3 BIGGEST MYTHS
“The myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy is only perpetuated by women who fear work and men who fear women”
What an appropriate quote to get this article started, eh?
Physical strength, athleticism and overall beastliness (technical term…) used to be attributed solely to men. It was the general consensus that women who were strong or involved in any form of sport were “butch” or “manly” – something we all know now to be complete and utter [insert favourite profanity here].
Whilst we are seeing more and more women engaging in physical activity (particularly in the gym), there is still this sweeping misconception that we women must “be careful” as to how we approach our training, nutrition and bodybuilding to avoid becoming “bulky”.
I’m here to lay out some facts for you ladies, and prove to you that lifting weights will not make you bulky, protein is not a “man’s supplement” and that you really should have that extra slice of cake. With peanut putter. It will help you reach your goals – seriously. Keep reading, and you’ll see what I mean.
But as always – let’s keep things simple. Let’s stick to facts.
LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL MAKE YOU “BULKY”
The mother of all myths when it comes to women and training.
“I don’t want to lift too heavy – I don’t want to look bulky!”
Ever hear this? Ever even say it? Of course you have! We all have. It’s the talk of the women’s locker room every January when the newcomers arrive. But is there any merit to the myth?
Simply put: nope.
Whatever your goals may be; whether it be to burn some fat, build some muscle or shape or improve your overall fitness levels – you’re going to need to lift some weights.
I’m not talking about 30 reps of bodyweight glute kickbacks; this will do nothing but maybe cause you some back pain. If you’re serious about building some shape and burning that leftover Christmas fluff (we’ll save the fluff for the unicorns) you need to challenge yourself by performing compound movements, lifting heavy and challenging weights thereby forcing your body to change to meet your goals.
As for the “Bulk Issue” (ha…see what I did there?) this occurs under two main circumstances.
- Performance enhancing drugs
Now I will assume anyone reading this is not taking anything illegal and hopefully nobody here is eating themselves into oblivion (except for ice cream oblivions. They’re allowed. Obviously).
This “bulky” appearance you so fear is usually due to an accumulation of fat overlaying muscle tissue; which can be avoided by eating a substantial but appropriate quantity of food. As for the other reason…we won’t get into it, but the reasons for this are fairly “sciencey” so to keep it simple; avoid them. At all costs.
Say no to drugs, kids.
WOMEN DON’T NEED PROTEIN, CREATINE OR “MANLY” SUPPLEMENTS
While men and women differ greatly (we can multitask!), we are equally human. By this I mean there are no “men-only supplements”; we women will not morph into another gender overnight by supplementing with extremely beneficial supplements such as creatine, protein powders and even carbohydrate powders (women can be hardgainers, too!).
Creatine is a natural compound already found in the body and is basically used as an energy source for your body during your heavy and intense training sessions. It will help you lift more, train more and progress more. Win, win in my opinion. Why let the men have all the fun?!
As for protein and its delicious powder forms (Hello, Lemon Meringue Protein Powder!) – it is simply food. Yup, food. Our diet consists of protein (found in meat, dairy and eggs), carbohydrates (grains, fruit and ice cream!) and fat (peanut butter love). Protein powder is just a convenient way of consuming your required intake of protein which is raised when you engage in physical activity. It will not make you bulky, it will make you strong.
Of course, women are special so we do require a few extra bits that our male counterparts don’t but these are taken care of in the WMN® range. Even the protein supplements such as Daily Protein™ and Lean Shake™ have been tailored to women’s requirements, by adjusting the protein level to match the corresponding (typical) lower body mass, as well as a few added ingredients.
Creatine will not turn you into The Hulk (sorry, lads).
WE DON’T NEED THAT MUCH FOOD
Unless you’re spending your days in your PJs watching The Kardashians while digging into a tub of Ben’n’Jerry’s – you most likely need to eat A LOT more than you currently do.
Women have an unfortunate reputation for consuming far too few calories even when not involved in any physical activity. The media is of course partly to blame here but think about it – if you’re burning calories in the gym but limiting your food intake, how much progress do you think you will make?
The answer is simple; almost none.
For you to build the body you so desire – whatever that may be – or reach your fitness goals you NEED to consume at least your maintenance calories (see my post on The Science of Weight Loss for details on this!) otherwise you merely run the risk of burning yourself out and eventually giving up.
Progress is motivating in itself. Don’t deny yourself your well-deserved progress by denying yourself that cookie.