Women and muscle building have gotten off on the wrong foot and this stressful encounter has installed one particular fear in them. Namely, females are dreading the notion of bulking up. Every time they approach the weights, this scarecrow jumps out to drive them away. This is nothing more than a ruse, and in practice, the truth is very different. The two genders need not train in a different way, and the divergence is mostly in volume and slight details, not substance.
Age of obsolete mythology
The first thing to do is to clear the air and debunk some of the prevailing myths. The first one is that women and men should not train the same. Even professional trainers endorse this fallacy, giving women only exercises like light-weight dumbbell circuits. The justification for this is something you may have heard many times: you should keep away from weights or else you will bulk up. Well, things simply do not work this way.
Pumping iron makes your muscles stronger, not bigger, provided that you do not pump your testosterone level up and eat more calories than you consume. Bodybuilders are huge because they train hard, eat a cornucopia of food, and take special supplements. Thus, women can boost their strength by opting for a sound bodybuilding program, achieving a calorie deficit, and pulling their weight. For example, a lighter weight in combination with a sufficient number of reps (20+) builds muscle endurance and sets solid foundations for tight and strong muscle tissue.
Furthermore, activities that bring concrete results are bodyweight workouts, kettlebell swinging, picking up heavy things, and pretty much anything that strains the muscles. It is of the utmost importance to ignore people bragging about how women should not take on overhead presses, deadlifts, squats, and pull-ups. It turns out that women are as capable of accomplishing physical greatness as men, and it is just that they are a less common sight in places like free-weights sections.
The next raging myth launched by the fitness industry is that you can tone your muscles lightning-fast. Moreover, with just several minutes per day, you will straighten all problem areas and banish belly fat for good. Hate to break it to you, but one cannot modify the workings of biology: you are genetically predisposed to store fat in certain locations and no amount of targeted exercise can change this truth. Likewise, once you start losing weight, there is no way to set the order in which the fat will disappear from your body.
The trick is to improve your dietary habits, a factor which accounts for the bulk of fat loss. What is more, you need to focus on strength training and exercises that involve large compound movements. This way, you recruit different muscle groups, increase calorie expenditure, and maximize time spent in the gym. Here, we turn another widely-spread concept on its head: cardio is less effective than an equal amount of strength training in terms of losing weight.
The reason for this is that the latter regime breaks down your muscles and then rebuilds them over the course of the next 24-48 hours. It is precisely in this period that calories and energy are harnessed, metabolism is sped up, and the “afterburn” kicks in. And on top of the aforementioned benefits, strength training also aids in many other areas of health. It regulates blood pressure, keeps cholesterol levels in check, and wards off obesity, diabetes and other conditions, like heart disease.
Piece by piece
After the supreme reign of mythological ripped beasts, the tide is slowly turning, and women are disregarding prejudices and misconceptions that are still floating around. They still have to cope with misleading and frivolous marketing, though, having to dig deeper in order to grasp the real science behind it all. Therefore, it is best to embrace a broad approach and pay close attention to different pieces of the fitness puzzle. Through it all, strength training not only gives you a sculpted body but also helps you achieve your weight loss goals.