Strength training is basically progressive resistance training with compound exercises (and their appropriate variations) such as squats, deadlifts, single leg exercises, push-ups, chin-ups, inverted rows, overhead presses, and other similar movements.
To build strength you must use heavier weights over time, and appropriate repetition (reps) ranges. For example, doing sets of 20+ reps with the same light weights for an extended period of time is not proper strength training. You must use challenging loads for lower rep ranges (primarily 6-12 reps depending on the exercise) to get stronger and achieve results) and add more weight over time.
But having said all that there are all these myths floating around the gym as to why and how strength training is not appropriate for women. Here are five myths that are preventing more women to partake in this excellent overall body fitness program:
Myth #1: Resistance training takes too much time
If you want results, you must work out most days of the week for at least 45-60 minutes, or so the naysayers say. It’s no wonder many women abandon a strength training workout regimen after a few weeks because going to the gym on a near daily basis isn’t practical for most women. Heck, even the most seasoned athletes have rest days.
Whether you want to get stronger, lose some fat, sculpt some muscle, or just improve your overall health, you can accomplish those goals with 2-4 strength training workouts each week. In fact, if you strength train three days per week for approximately 30-40 minutes per session, you’ll be able to sculpt the body that you want.
An average of three strength training workouts per week is much more practical than many popular workout programs. As a result, people can easily maintain this schedule long-term. And when it comes to achieving and maintaining results, it’s critical to have a long-term perspective.
Myth #2: You need a lot of equipment
For most women, strength training with just a barbell set and power rack is sufficient. Because they “only” had that minimum equipment they couldn’t mess around with worthless exercises. They would squat, deadlift, lunge, perform presses and pulls, push-ups, pull-ups, inverted rows, and other bodyweight exercises.
But the results were evident – they lost body fat, sculpted more sexy muscle where they wanted it, and got stronger. Even better, they only worked out an average of three days per week.
A recent test was conducted by a California based personal trainer, Mary Tanner who tackled a bodyweight workout program where she used nothing but her bodyweight for several months. The results were great and she didn’t even use a single barbell or dumbbell.
So, it doesn’t matter if you have access to a gym with all of the latest gadgets, gizmos, and state of the art equipment or you want to work out in the comfort of your home with nothing but your bodyweight, you can get results.
Myth #3: Strength training isn’t safe
There’s no shortage of YouTube videos displaying crazy gym accidents. Furthermore, you’ve probably heard horror stories from friends who strength train. It’s usually a shoulder, knee, or even worse, the back, that gets injured. It’s no wonder people think strength training isn’t safe!
But think about all those accidents and how they’ve occurred – it’s usually someone who had just bought a gym membership and is hubris enough to just start lifting weights, even without any prior knowledge or experience. If someone didn’t know how to swim they wouldn’t purchase a membership to a pool and then jump straight into the deep end and plan to figure it out on their own. Strength training shouldn’t be any different.
If you learn proper exercise form, techniques and follow a smart program, strength training is very safe. However, if you’re using incorrect form or performing exercises that just don’t suit you, then, yes, you risk injury.
If you’re a strength training beginner, do yourself a huge favor and do things correctly from the start. Choose the best exercises, learn proper form, focus on getting stronger with the basic exercises, and follow a smart program. Not only will you be able to strength train safely, but you’ll get better results in less time.
Myth #4: You need to lose weight first and then “tone up”
Many women have exclaimed, “I need to lose fat first and then I’ll start strength training because I don’t want to bulk up.” As a result they devote hours per week to cardio exercises all in the name of fat loss.
Just doing cardio with the goal of building a leaner, stronger, and healthier body is a big mistake.
Not to mention, there are several other amazing benefits to strength training than building a better looking body. Resistance training is excellent for preventing osteoporosis and improving self-confidence, among many other things.
The answer to the “When is the right time to start strength training?” question is today. It is everyday that our body needs a workout.
Myth #5: If you’re not exhausted at the end of every workout, you’re doing it wrong
This is a myth that is growing larger and larger over the past couple of years. Right now the popular mentality is working out so hard that you finish each workout completely exhausted and on the brink of vomiting. If you’re not suffering, huffing and puffing, and miserable for most of the workout then you’re a slacker, or so people were led to believe.
That is so UNTRUE. Fatigue and exhaustion is not a marker of a successful workout. So, if you shouldn’t focus on wearing yourself out with every workout, how should you track progress?
Improve your performance everyday is what really matters. Each time you repeat a strength training session, improve your performance by doing a little better each time. Here are some easy ways to do so:
- Use more weight. This is especially important for beginners – you should focus on getting stronger and add weight to an exercise whenever possible. For example, if you used 65 pounds for squats last week, use 70 pounds this week.
- Perform more reps. You can’t always add more weight to the bar, especially as you become more experienced. Let’s use the same example from above and say you squatted 65 pounds for six reps last week. This time use 65 pounds again but perform more reps; perhaps seven or eight.
- Increase the volume. You need to be careful with this one because it’s easy to fall into the “more must be better” mindset, which we’ll discuss momentarily. For example, if you squatted 65 pounds for four sets of six reps last week, you could add another set the following workout (five sets of six reps).
- Improve workout density. You can improve workout density by performing the same amount of work in less time (if it took 40 minutes to complete the workout the first time, strive to complete it in 39 minutes or less) or performing more work in the same period of time (if you completed the workout in 40 minutes and performed a total of 12 work sets, perform 13 or more work sets in that same period).
Whatever methods you choose to incorporate doesn’t really matter. Just make sure you do a little better each time.
Improved performance is the best indicator that you’re strength training correctly, and it’s also incredibly motivating because you’ll see how much stronger you get over time. Furthermore, you’ll have a positive goal to focus on when you enter the gym – beating your previous performance.
It’s not about burning calories or working yourself into a puddle of sweat with each workout – it’s about becoming the best you possible and being proud of what your body can DO, and this is where proper strength training really shines. Do not forget that important point.
Now, It’s Your Turn
Proper strength training is an excellent way to lose fat and build the body you want. Not only that, but you’ll likely boost your self-confidence and see what you’re body is truly capable of doing. The myths have been busted. All that’s left for you to do is start your own strength training journey. Good luck.