6 myths women hear about getting fit

6 myths women hear about getting fit

Kristen Turner, a health navigator with Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., clears up some myths surrounding women’s health and fitness.

Myth: Lifting heavy weights will make a woman look like a body builder, so do more reps with lighter weights.

Fact: To develop huge, bulky muscles, you will need to train specifically for that purpose, including a strict training and nutrition program. There are women who train for the purpose of body building competitions, which is different from the recommended resistance training program for the average population.

Women do not gain muscle mass the same way men do, nor will they “bulk up” through training with challenging heavier weights. There are various ways to train the same muscle group by manipulating load, sets and repetitions. Strength training with moderate to vigorous weight, 8-12 repetitions, 8-10 exercises, focusing on all major muscle groups, at least two times per week is recommended for improved tone, strength and weight management. The more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you will burn, giving you an overall toned physique.

Myth: Lots of cardio will get you toned.

Fact: A well-rounded fitness program for general health incorporates various modes and intensities of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and flexibility.

Incorporating strength training with heavier weights might mean you can focus less on endless cardio sessions on the treadmill or stair climber, depending on your fitness goals. Always keep in mind your goals and purpose for exercise. If your purpose for exercise is to train for a marathon, it is important to run – a lot. Even so, heavy cardiovascular exercise programs need to include resistance training for injury prevention and functionality. However, if your goal is to build strength, lose weight and look more toned, you don’t have to rely as much on cardio exercise, but it is still an important part of your overall fitness program. For the general population, Kristen recommends following the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine, which recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week. Also include some vigorous activity if you are physically capable and they suit your goals.

Myth: You need to work out hard every day.

Fact: While you should incorporate movement into your everyday life, intense workouts, including strength and cardio, should be balanced. Your body needs at least 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle groups. It’s best to alternate muscle groups and intensity of workouts throughout the week, and always give yourself at least one rest day per week. Giving your muscles time off is critical to allowing them time to recover and rebuild.

Myth: It’s ok to skimp on sleep to fit in workouts.

Fact: One of the best ways to get stronger is by getting sufficient sleep, 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is one of the best ways to help muscles recover and rebuild, while not sleeping enough can undo the hard work of eating right and exercising. Studies have shown lack of sleep can reduce your will power and motivation to work out, your body’s ability to make muscle and to use insulin, and increases your body’s production of cortisol, the stress hormone that is associated with weight gain.

Myth: You will lose weight as you get toned.

Fact: Sometimes! For many women, improving muscle mass can initially result in a higher number on the scale. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. If you are adding muscle and lowering your body fat, how your clothes fit will tell you if your hard work is paying off – not how much you weigh.

Out of discouragement, many women will decrease or eliminate their strength training. It is critical to continue a well-rounded exercise program even if you do not see results right away. Give your body time to adjust to the new stimulus—at least 8-12 weeks. Constantly change and progress your exercises to avoid plateauing!

Myth: You need to deprive yourself of calories to obtain and maintain a lean physique.

Fact: Your body needs energy in order to produce energy. Depriving yourself of calories may result in decreased muscle mass, among other negative side effects that will impact your metabolism. However, you need to give your body the right kinds of calories. Proper nutrition is the fuel your body needs to support muscle recovery, maintain energy and boost motivation for exercise. Eating for proper nutrition can also increase your metabolism, helping you to burn fat more efficiently. Complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein are all needed to help build muscle and improve overall health. It never hurts to consult with a registered dietitian or track your daily and weekly eating habits with a food log to avoid over-eating and ensure you consume the calories your body needs.

Find out about the “medical model” fitness approach here. 

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Comments

3 Comments

  1. A pound is a pound. Muscle does *not* weigh more than fat. I’m disappointed that you are perpetuating this myth.

  2. Muscle via actual bulk does weigh more than fat. If you place a pound of fat on the table and match the bulk with muscle, the amount of muscle would be much greater. What you are saying applies to everything…a pound of hamburger weighs the same as a pound of feathers…but side by side the actual bulk is incredibly different. Muscle also burns more calories just to be sustained. So…bottom line is, if you compare a pound of fat on your thighs with a pound of muscle on your thighs, the difference is substantial. While your statement is technically true, the meaning behind it is not a myth.

  3. “If you place a pound of fat on the table and match the bulk with muscle, the amount of muscle would be much greater.”

    Oops—I think that you’d intended to say that, if the “bulk” (or displacement—in cubic centimeters , inches, etc.) of the fat sample and the muscle sample are the same, then the WEIGHT of the muscle will be much greater than that of the of fat.

About the Author

Kate Eller
Kate Eller

Kate Eller, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She came to Chicago and Advocate in 2014 after living in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. She enjoys road trips, exploring little towns, minimalism, hiking and urban hiking around Chicago.