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Myth 1: Women who lift heavy weights will look bulky!
Not gonna happen! This seems to be the most common misconception out there. The reality is that there are several factors that influence muscle growth. Though testosterone is not the only factor, it is very important for the promotion of big muscles. Fortunately for women, testosterone production is not as high as that in men. Therefore, women need not be concerned with potentially looking like an NFL linebacker when training with weights. Additionally, it would require years and years of heavy weight training for a woman just to see the muscularity changes.
So just to be clear, it’s okay for a woman to lift a weight that is “challenging.” In fact, the exercise performed with weights should not exceed beyond 15 reps. It should feel fairly difficult to lift the fifteenth rep. Otherwise, lifting beyond 15 reps becomes a conditioning routine which is not the most expedient way to improve muscle tone.
Bottom line: women needn’t be afraid to challenge the muscles with a little extra weight!!
Myth 2: Tons of ab exercises will flatten my tummy.
Negative. Crunches and core exercises are performed to strengthen and build the muscles of the abdomen. However, in order to visually see the beauty of these muscles, the overlying fat must be reduced. For this to occur, a combination of proper diet and cardio must be added to the ab routine. Logically, how can anyone see your ab muscles underneath a thick layer of fat? So, be sure to put as much effort, if not more, into proper eating habits and your cardio program.
Myth 3: I should stretch before I workout.
Nope. “Stretching” is simply lengthening a particular group of muscles and their respective tendons beyond their normal range of motion. The main purpose of this activity is to promote increased pliability of the muscles, thus protecting them from potential injury during more rigorous activities. Ordinarily, this is a good thing…but only after the body is warmed up! Stretching the muscles before they’ve been warmed up can lead to similar injuries sustained in sports activities. Therefore, muscles and tendons need to be warmed via a light warm up before they can be stretched. A few possible movements for a 5-10 minute warm up may consist of walking in place, a light bicycle ride or arm circles. It can be anything as long as it is light and easy going.
Myth 4: Muscle will turn to fat if I stop exercising.
Not at all. The human body doesn’t work that way. Muscle and fat are structurally different and each has its separate compartment on the skeletal frame. When a muscular individual ceases exercising completely, their body begins a metabolic rearrangement. Because the individual has halted exercise and assuming their eating habits are the same, the body will not burn the extra energy as it did during the workout era. Fat will begin to accumulate on the body (in the fat compartments). As time goes on the once tight and dense muscles will slowly begin to atrophy (get smaller) as a response to minimal forced muscle contraction. Thus, the frame will morph from a muscular athletic frame to a soft and pudgy frame.
This is an important example for the need to add weight training into an overall exercise program. Stimulating muscle growth will directly and indirectly help trim down body fat. The shear act of exerting force against a resistance requires energy, thus burning calories. Then later when the muscles are recovering and rebuilding, more calories will be required to facilitate the process. Therefore, make sure that resistance training is an integral part of your fitness program.
Myth 5: Eating a full breakfast will give me the energy I need to get me through my workout.
Uh, no! All it’s going to do is put your breakfast all over the floor! If you are going to workout early in the morning you have two options: 1) get up early enough to have a morning snack or; 2) rely on your energy reserves from the previous day’s meals. The best thing to do is to wait about 60-90 minutes after eating a small snack prior to working out. This is mostly to ensure that your stomach is pretty well emptied out thereby, avoiding a potentially embarrassing situation. In all actuality, the snack is going to have little contribution to meeting the energy needs of the workout. What is stored in the muscles and the liver is going to be the source of the majority of the energy needed for the workout. So, if you are going to have a workout shortly after waking in the morning, it might be best to wait until after the workout to have breakfast. In fact, your best meal of the day should be your post-workout meal.