I was recently in the gym, squatting like so, when a man approached me and said, “Wow, you are really part of the boy’s club now!” Knock knock. Reality check. Personal fitness is an affiliate for women, too, if not a friend. This friend should be there to inspire us, though may sometimes seem inconvenient and require a lot of work, but in the end brings out the best in us and encourages us to put our best foot forward. There are so many myths that come along with the workout world, some still being debunked. ‘Perfect’ Instagram models that wear makeup to the gym and barely sweat have demeaned what it means to be healthy. Female empowerment goes far beyond what society’s agenda tells us is true.

With the following list, I would like to explain some of the common feedback I have gotten about workout myths for females and ideas I have learned from my own experience.

Myth #1: Women who weight lift get bulky

The myth that women who weight lift will become bulky and develop masculine-looking figures is scientifically inaccurate and simply impossible. The fact of the matter is, females simply do not have anywhere near enough testosterone to create a manly body, regardless of the hours and calories put into a regimen. This one probably goes without saying for most, but still an essential point of emphasis.

Myth #2: Cardio adds definition

As a follow up from number one, just like weight training will not result in a manly figure, cardio will not magically create the desirable, curvy figure that many women are chasing. The reason for this is that cardio merely ‘shrinks’ our muscles. It does not add any definition, but rather decreases overall mass. It is impossible to spot reduce, but cardio can be effective if done properly. Performing cardio post-strength training burns significantly more fat than having completed it as a warm up. Once glycogen is used up (the primary source of energy used for strength work), our bodies have to turn to an alternative energy source- fat.

Myth #3: Eating healthy always means eating less

Health is not about eating less, but knowing what you’re eating. The day I discovered how to manipulate macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) to achieve my goals was the day my whole outlook on exercise changed. It is undoubtable that the corporate world is obsessed with promotion of eating less to achieve rather unrealistic body goals. What is not advertised, even by most advocates of health, is that of proper ratios of nutrients. ‘Diets’ are not really about eating less, but understanding when and what you consume. It is easy to find how many grams of each you should be eating each day with added physical activity. Here is a link to my favorite calculation site.

Myth #4: Exercise can’t be enjoyable

Gym time is a relaxing and necessary part of our lives that balances out busy schedules. I use my gym time specifically for myself and to relax. While it is difficult to begin a lifestyle change that includes activity almost every day, habituation is the only way to escape this cycle. Soon you’ll find yourself prioritizing your health. 

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Myth #5: Women are not ‘meant’ to be strength trainers.

The left is not about to take our confidence with collective degrading through the body positivity movement that preaches happiness at any health level. It is clear that males dominate the weight room. Females, however, need to understand that by letting them dominate it, we are not doing ourselves any good. Women have come an incredibly long way in the fitness industry, an incredibly intriguing progression over the last century. This article specifically targets the dance industry as an example of progressive female health and empowerment. Again I inquire, if we have moved beyond the conception of women fitting certain ‘roles,’ why all these myths still being spread, and why not help disprove them?

Overall, debunking feminist myths is one of my favorite pastimes, but the general workout world of  ‘strong female leads’ still appears to be lacking. I know I am not the only one encountering these kind of tensions. I hope that more and more of us become aware of the necessity that is health, if not for ourselves, then for the overall health of our country. The future is female, so why not start training for it?

Kelly H