Debunking The Top Myths About Strength Training For Women

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Apr. 11 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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The fear that strength training makes women bulky is also one of some women’s top reasons for avoiding strength training. As a personal trainer, I have witnessed firsthand this myth rearing its ugly head. Between overdoing cardio and avoiding dumbbells over 10 pounds, the bulk factor remains the justification. In my experience I know that lifting weights, alone, doesn’t make women bulky.

study from Gitnux found that women are 45-percent “less likely to participate in strength training activities than men.” There are various reasons for that, from gym anxiety to opting for cardiovascular training. Still, the disparity remains perpetuated by societal norms and misconceptions about women’s bodies.

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Why Some Women Don’t Get Bulky After Lifting Weights

The notion that strength training makes women bulky has, unfortunately, persisted in the minds of many. This harmful misconception stems from a misunderstanding of human physiology, particularly the differences between a woman’s and a man’s bodies. It’s even worse when one considers the positive benefits of strength training for women.

The truth is, building muscle is a long and slow process that takes years of consistent strength training and progressive overloading. Plus, women’s bodies do not produce as much testosterone – the hormone responsible for bone mass, fat distribution, and muscle mass – as men’s bodies.

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Adelle Smener of Prehab PT in Los Angeles, has a passion for weightlifting, and agrees that getting bulky is much harder to achieve than people think. “You are in the driver’s seat and need to work with a coach or trainer who understands your specific goals and concerns. Still, to get ‘bulky,” you’d need to train in a very specific manner – very high volume, and training to failure,” Smener said.

The Benefits Of Strength Training For Women

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It’s no secret that strength training boasts many lifelong benefits for women, far beyond physical aesthetics. Lifting weights builds stronger joints, supports weight loss, protects bone health and helps prevent injuries as you age.

Plus, strength training is as effective as cardiovascular training in promoting heart health. A 2019 study found that people who did at least one hour of strength training per week had a 40 to 70 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke compared to those who did not.

If long-term physical health doesn’t convince you to grab the dumbbells, weightlifting has proven to lower stress levels and build self-confidence, helping you remain consistent over time.

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Smener added, “Strength training allows women to develop a new and healthier relationship with their body – one where we begin to learn that size and the number on the scale going up isn’t necessarily something to be ashamed of. Rather, it’s a badge of honor. We learn to be proud of all our body is capable of doing and it can become a very empowering relationship.”

Diverse Forms of Strength Training

Strength training doesn’t just mean going to the gym to pick up heavy weights and put them down. From pilates to TRX resistance training, there are different training modalities you can try to find what makes you feel your best.

“There are many forms of strength training that will allow you to develop that positive relationship with your body and get strong – without the bulking results that many women tend to worry about,” Smener added.

The myth that strength training makes women bulky is nothing more than a combination of outdated beliefs, societal norms, and misunderstandings about the human body. It’s time for women to confidently embrace strength training as a cornerstone of their fitness journey while finding the strength that lies within.

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Kelsey Kryger
By: Kelsey Kryger

Kelsey Kryger is a writer specializing in lifestyle, health, fitness, and business/entrepreneurship. Her work has been featured in Parade, UNATION, SimpliFaster, Beyondish, Planet Protein, and more.

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