Myths and Facts: Weight Training for Women

In addition to eating a healthy diet and getting regular cardiovascular exercise, weight training (or resistance training) is essential if you want your body to stay toned. Some women have heard negative things about weight lifting or just don’t know that much about it. Weight training, if done properly, can give you better results than cardiovascular exercise alone. Before beginning a new weight training program, read on to help eliminate some common myths.

Myth: Weight Training Will Make You Big and Bulky

Fact: Women’s bodies aren’t designed to bulk up like men. Female bodybuilders look masculine because many take steroids. They also spend hours every day lifting weights. Although you may gain weight initially after beginning a weight training program, the weight gain is likely temporary since muscle weighs more than fat. However, muscle helps burn more calories throughout the day, not just during your workout. After a few weeks, you should start to see a decrease in your body size and an increase in muscle definition. 

Myth: You Have to Join a Gym before You Start Weight Training

Fact: Some of the best weight training exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home using free weights. Squats, lunges, bicep curls, triceps extensions, shoulder press, chess press, bent over rows and dead lifts are just some examples of exercises that are easy to do from home. Just about every exercise performed on a weight machine can also be done using dumbbells–3-, 5-, and 10-Ib. weights should be plenty to get you started.

Myth: You’ll Need to Eat a Lot More Protein

Fact: People who regularly work out at a high intensity or people trying to build muscle mass do require more protein than a sedentary individual. However, the required amount is not as much as most people think. The protein Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for sedentary individuals is 0.36 g per Ib. of body weight. This recommendation holds true for people who work out at a low intensity. An adult who engages in high intensity cardiovascular exercise or who is trying to build muscle mass requires 0.55 – 0.82 g per Ib. of body weight. For example, a 150 Ib. sedentary woman or a woman who works out at a low intensity would require at least 54 g of protein per day. If she begins a high intensity cardiovascular workout program or if she’s trying to gain muscle mass, she’d require 82 – 123 g per day.

Myth: The More Repetitions, the Better

Fact: Two or three sets of 15 repetitions should be plenty to give you great results! Some days you may want to change things up and do more (or less) repetitions. However, make sure to do enough repetitions so that you feel a slight burn in your muscle at the end of each set. If you don’t, try increasing your weight, but make sure your form is correct. That last rep should really burn for maximum results!

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