Women Bodybuilding Myths
From Hugo Rivera, former About.com Guide
The myths about women's weight training and female bodybuilding do not ever seem to go away. With this article, I'd like to share the facts regarding weight training and female bodybuilding.
Women's Weight Training Myth #1 -Weight training makes you bulky and masculine.
Due to the fact that women do not, and cannot, naturally produce as much testosterone (one of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size) as males do, it is impossible for a woman to gain huge amounts of muscle mass by merely touching some weights. Unfortunately, the image that may come to your mind is that of professional female bodybuilders. Most of these women, unfortunately, use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) along with other drugs in order to achieve that high degree of muscularity. In addition, most also have good genetics coupled with an unbelievable work ethic that enable them to gain muscle quickly when they spend hours in the gym lifting very heavy weights. Believe me when I say that they do not look like that by accident. Women who conduct weight training without the use of steroids get the firm and fit cellulite-free looking body that you see in most fitness/figure shows these days.
Women's Weight Training Myth #2 - Exercise increases your chest size.
Sorry girls. Women’s breasts are composed mostly of fatty tissue. Therefore, it is impossible to increase breast size through weight training. As a matter of fact, if you go below 12 percent body fat, your breast size will decrease. Weight training does increase the size of the back, so this misconception probably comes from confusing an increase in back size with an increase in cup size. The only way to increase your breast size is by gaining fat or getting breast implants.
Women's Weight Training Myth #3 - Weight training makes you stiff and musclebound.
If you perform all exercises through their full range of motion, flexibility will increase. Exercises like flyes, stiff-legged deadlifts, dumbbell presses, and chin-ups stretch the muscle in the bottom range of the movement. Therefore, by performing these exercises correctly, your stretching capabilities will increase.
Women's Weight Training Myth #4 - If you stop weight training your muscles turn into fat.
This is like saying that gold can turn into brass. Muscle and fat are two totally different types of tissue. What happens many times is that when people decide to go off their weight training programs they start losing muscle due to inactivity (use it or lose it) and they also usually drop the diet as well. Therefore bad eating habits combined with the fact that their metabolism is lower due to inactivity, and lower degrees of muscle mass, give the impression that the subject’s muscle is being turned into fat while in reality what is happening is that muscle is being lost and fat is being accumulated.
Women's Weight Training Myth #5 - Weight training turns fat into muscle.
More alchemy. This is the equivalent of saying that you can turn any metal into gold; don't we wish! The way a body transformation occurs is by gaining muscle through weight training and losing fat through aerobics and diet simultaneously. Again, muscle and fat are very different types of tissue. We cannot turn one into the other.
Women's Weight Training Myth #6 - As long as you exercise you can eat anything that you want.
How I wish this were true also! However, this could not be further from the truth. Our individual metabolism determines how many calories we burn at rest and while we exercise. If we eat more calories than we burn on a consistent basis, our bodies will accumulate these extra calories as fat regardless of the amount of exercise that we do. This myth may have been created by people with such high metabolic rates(hardgainers) that no matter how much they eat or what they eat, they rarely meet or exceed the amount of calories that they burn in one day unless they put their mind to doing so. Therefore, their weight either remains stable or goes down. If you are confused about nutrition, please read Nutrition Basics.
Women's Weight Training Myth #7 - Women only need to do cardio and if they decide to lift weights, they should be very light.
First of all, if you only did cardio then muscle and fat would be burned for fuel. One needs to do weights in order to get the muscle building machine going and thus prevent any loss of muscle tissue. Women that only concentrate on cardio will have a very hard time achieving the look that they want. As far as the lifting of very light weights, this is just more nonsense. Muscle responds to resistance and if the resistance is too light, then there will be no reason for the body to change.
Women Should Train Hard
I have trained with girls that train as hard as I do and they look nothing but feminine. If you want to look great, don't be afraid to pick up the weights and lift hard!
About The Author
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.