Despite all the science-backed literature, the numerous facilities that promote women lifting weights around the world, female athletes on television (save for female bodybuilders and elite Crossfit competitors) and even the “pop” articles on social media…I still hear women say, “I don’t want to lift heavy weights. I don’t want to look like a man.”
Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Hopefully, this encourages you to do one of my favorite things….pick things up and put them down haha.
Before we do, let’s quickly summarize why women SHOULD lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights can
- Enhance bone-density and the reduce the chances of getting osteoporosis
- Increase connective tissue strength and enhance joint support preventing injuries
- Improve functional strength for day-to-day life and sport performance
- Increase lean muscle tissue and reduce body fat
- Raise your resting metabolic rate
- Increase levels of self-esteem and confidence
(FYI: The same thing happens to men too! Shocker!)
Here are a few more facts as to why women, generally speaking, are not as strong as men….
- Women tend to have fewer and smaller muscle fibers than men
- Women’s upper body strength is 25-55% of the average man’s
- Women’s lower body strength is 70-7% of the average man’s
- This translates to women, on average, having 40% less muscle
- Up to 75% of women’s musculature tends to be Type 1 dominant (slow-twitch)
- Women have between 1/10th to 1/20th the level of testosterone as men
- Women have a greater potential for strength. Meaning they have the capacity to increase their strength to higher levels when compared to the strength potential of a man.
- A woman who performs 1 pushup increases to 20 pushups while a man can do 10 pushups increases to 50 pushups. While the man is still stronger the woman’s strength increased 2000% while the man’s increased by 500%.
So, without further adieu…here are the 3 myths debunked…..
MYTH #1: Lifting weights will make women huge!
TRUTH: Strength training will improve your body composition (i.e. reduce body fat and increase lean muscle) without making you bigger. While your weight may remain the same the appearance and performance of your body will be very different. Yes, some women are predisposed with very large cross-sectional relationships within their muscle fibers but even they still need a large volume of work before they become larger.
MYTH #2: Women should train differently than men
TRUTH: While there are plenty of biological and physiological factors that separate men from women, the basics of strength training remain the same for both. If you want to get stronger, focus on few reps and heavy weights. If you want to build larger or more toned muscles, you need to do several sets with moderate weight. If you want to build muscular endurance you have to perform light weight for many reps. The major difference in training programs will be the volume. Women will need more sets and more reps to stimulate more change due to lower levels of testosterone, muscle mass, and so forth.
MYTH #3: Women shouldn’t perform high-intensity or heavy-loaded exercises
TRUTH: The answers in Myth #1 and Myth #2 form the foundation who why this myth is false. Women’s bodies adapt to progressive overloading principal the same as men. The time it takes to recover and see growth may vary but the need to increase muscle strength, performance, bone density, connective tissue elasticity and strength are the same.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!