Strength training is a great way to strengthen not just your muscles, but also your relationship with your body. It allows you to find your limits and then, through consistency and hard work, break through them. But lifting weights has historically been seen as an exclusively masculine activity, and a big part of that is the mythology built up around it.
The good news is as long as you’re training safely, you can start strength training today, no matter the shape or configuration of the body you were born into. Let’s cut through some of the common strength training myths and get to the truth.
Myth 1: Strength training is dangerous
Of course, there is a certain amount of risk involved when intentionally lifting heavy objects. They could fall and injure you or you could overdo it and pull a muscle. Often times, you’re intentionally lifting weights which are at or near the limits of your ability, and that invites a certain amount of danger.
But there’s nothing about weight training which is inherently more dangerous for people with feminine bodies. In fact, multiple studies have shown yard work and team sports are more dangerous than weightlifting.
As with any new fitness program, it’s smart to start low and slow. Don’t jump to the biggest weights on your first day at the gym and talk with a healthcare professional if you experience negative symptoms after exercising. It’s also worth noting that you should check with your doctor before starting up any new fitness routine, if you’re pregnant.
Myth 2: Strength training is too complicated
This is a feeling we absolutely understand, but it’s one we can work through together. Strength training does require that you learn a host of new exercises which can involve free weights, tension bands, or dedicated machines. And each exercise has a specific way it should be carried out to prevent injury and maximize results.
There’s a lot to learn, but you don’t need to drink the ocean all at once. You know more than you think you do; you’ve been lifting objects your entire life. The only thing that’s changed now is you’re doing it with intention.
A little preparation here goes a long way.
- Take a little time to consider your goals and choose one or two exercises which will help get you there.
- If you have access to a trainer or a well-toned friend, this might be a good time to engage their services.
- You can also do pretty well with a few targeted Google searches and a YouTube tutorial or two.
You don’t have to know everything right away. The goal isn’t perfect, it’s better than yesterday.
Myth #3: Weight training is too expensive
As you ready to embark on any fitness journey, you might find yourself staring down a long list of supplies the Internet says “need.” Sure, you might want gym clothes and a water bottle, but you can hold off on acquiring your own bar to haul to the gym, buying special gloves, or building up a supply of weights. Those costs can add up quickly, but they aren’t necessary at the start of your journey—or maybe ever.
You can strength train at home with what you already have. There are plenty of exercises, like push-ups, planks, and walking lunges which utilize your own body weight to put pressure on your muscles. Building muscle isn’t just about lifting heavy things, but about using your own body in more demanding ways.
You can do body weight exercises at home, with the clothes you already have, without dipping into your bank account. And you can always add household objects for a little extra weight when you’re ready.
Myth #4: Weight training won’t help me manage my weight
Everyone “knows” that weight training bulks you up while cardio slims you down, but everybody is mistaken. In actuality, weight training is as effective or more effective than cardio at cutting down on excess body weight. That’s because, while it’s true that cardio burns more calories per session than weight training, having more muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate so you’re burning more calories around the clock.
Of course, slimmer isn’t always better and weight management isn’t always about cutting down. It’s important that you find the exercise plan that’s right for you and, whether you’re bulking up or cutting down, a well-executed weight training plan can be an effective solution.
Myth #5: You need to radically change your lifestyle to build muscle
Weight training might lead to changing your diet slightly or modifying other parts of your routine and that’s great if those changes align with your values and goals. But if you believe success in weight training demands you live at the gym and subsist on a diet of protein shakes and chicken breasts, you’ve fallen victim to another myth.
Forget about the “body builder persona” and approach weight training like any other fitness goal—or any kind of goal.
- Make one small change at a time.
- Set small goals.
- Believe that “perfect” is the enemy of “good.”
- Document your journey so you can see the small efforts build rewards over time.
There is no one path toward improved fitness except the path that’s right for you, and sometimes “good enough for me” is actually the best plan of all.