+ 12 October 2020

#1: If I start lifting weights, I will look bulky.

It is a common misconception that weightlifting will cause females to develop physiques ready to compete at the next Mr Olympia contest. While it is possible to achieve a strong and muscular physique as a female, it is often reserved for the most elite athletes who undergo strict and intense workout routines over a very long period of time.

For the average gym-going female, incorporating weight training into your routine will not result in a ‘bulky’ physique. Why? Females have significantly lower levels of testosterone in their bodies compared to males and so building muscle based on genetics is much harder.


#2: Gaining muscle must involve super heavy lifting.

Wrong! If you are completely new to training, you will notice that your body will gain strength and develop in size very quickly at the start from different adaptations (hello newbie gains). However it is often recommended to start off with bodyweight exercises to learn key movement patterns and develop strength over time, helping your body become more robust through joints and connective tissue. This will then create room for you to increase the volume of your training needed to develop muscle.


#3: You can turn body fat into muscle.

This is a very common myth, but no unfortunately our fat cells do not transform into muscle. The reason a lot of people think this is because after training over a period of time, you may notice a reduction in body fat and an increase in muscle definition. Depending on the type of training you are doing, the body fat you have stored can be used as fuel for a muscle building workout and so it may appear that the fat is being ‘replaced’ by muscle.


#5: I need to be taking supplements and protein shakes.

You definitely do not need to be taking supplements or relying on protein shakes in order to have an effective workout or see great results. Supplementation should definitely not replace a well-rounded diet and it is recommended that you source the appropriate nutrients naturally from foods in the first instance. With that being said, supplements can provide you with additional benefits that you sometimes cannot obtain from food sources and can be helpful for those whose lifestyles restrict their dietary intake. 


#6: Females cannot train at the same level as males/Females are not as strong as males.

Many people may assume that males are unequivocally stronger than females. However, research has shown that in terms of relative strength, women can in fact be just as strong if not stronger than men in their lower body per pound. In fact, females can typically tolerate higher volumes (more reps or sets) within their workouts and often have quicker recovery rates. On the other hand, where upper-body is concerned, yes females are typically at a natural disadvantage in terms of relative and natural strength. Where training is concerned, females are able to do the same exercises that males can however, there are exercises targeting certain muscle groups which may favour males and vice versa. 


#7: I can accurately track my weight gain journey on the scales.

While it is a lot easier to track your weight loss results on the scale, for those wanting to put on the weight and build muscle, it might not be the only method to rely on. In fact, when you begin training you may even notice a slight drop in your scale weight and this can be disheartening especially if you set out to achieve the opposite goal.

What is important to remember is that even with bodyweight or light weight training workouts, you are burning energy. If your diet remains unchanged, you will notice that your overall body fat will reduce once you burn more energy than you are consuming. When you start to incorporate weights into your workouts, you can begin to build muscle however you will need to ensure that you are eating enough food to fuel your workouts and encourage growth.

Tracking your weight gain or muscle development may be best achieved through a combination of different methods. Some of these methods may include: using a pair of jeans as a way to track loss or growth, weighing yourself on the same scale for consistency, monitoring your body fat percentage and taking progress photos as you may notice a visual difference before it translates on the scales. Using the scales may be helpful when tracking your calorie intake as the harder you train, the more energy you burn. This will then have a direct impact on the required number of calories you would need to consume in order to make up the deficit. Therefore, if your weight is continually dropping it could be an indication that your maintenance calories need to be increased. 

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