Only 17.5% of American women meet the aerobic and strength-training requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regular exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease, prevent diabetes, and improve movement and cognitive function.

But, do we really need to lift weights?

Female bodybuilders are often stereotyped as bulky, masculine, and tough. Do all women who lift look this way? What can weight-lifting do for you?

Let’s take a look at some misconceptions.

1. Myth # 1: Women Only Need Aerobic Exercise

We all know that regular aerobic exercise can help you live longer and healthier. When you are walking, running, cycling, or swimming, you will get more oxygen in your blood. Your body also releases endorphins, which improve your mood and increase your sense of well-being.

Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise can help you lose weight, ward off depression, and keep your arteries clear. It will reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.

The healthiest women, however, do not merely keep the extra pounds off. Strength training creates muscle that will burn fat more quickly when you are resting. And the more muscle mass you have, the more fat you will burn.

When you strength train, your metabolism increases by about 5%. This means your body will burn more calories, even when you aren’t exercising.

Strength training can also lower your blood pressure, decrease your cholesterol levels, and lessen fat around the heart. This plays a role in fighting heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.

Resistance training is also the best way to increase bone density, lowering your risk of osteoporosis.

Women who lift increase their self-esteem, lower their anxiety, and sleep better than women who don’t. It is by no means a skill for men only!

2. Myth #2: Bodybuilding Will Make Women Look Bulky

If you are new to lifting, you may begin seeing results more quickly. However, women are more likely to lose inches due to strength training, not gain them.

Strength training will allow you to build muscle in the places you want. It can help you slim up, tone down, and create curves in new places!

Your scale weight can be deceiving when you are getting more in shape. If you are gaining muscle mass, you may even be gaining weight but losing fat.

A truer measure of your progress is how your clothes are fitting. Are they looser around the waste? Do they feel a little longer because your body is leaner?

You will also know because of the progress you are making while you are working out. Are you getting stronger and healthier? Can you do more reps of weight-lifting exercises?

DEXA scans can be expensive, but mobile options are cheaper. These will measure your progress based on body weight, body fat, and bone density.

3. Myth #3: You Will Look More Like A Man

Men have more testosterone than women, so strength training may immediately lead to a bulkier appearance.

Women, however, have less natural testosterone, so it takes them longer to build muscle.

Strength training is designed to increase muscular fitness by exercising particular muscle groups against resistance. It prevents the loss of lean muscle mass that comes with aging.

Women who weight-lift have different body types. Some are athletic, but others are simply slimmer and leaner. A masculine appearance will not result from moderate body-building.

4. Myth #4: When You Lose Muscle Mass, It Turns Into Fat

Strength training protects bone health and muscle mass. It can help you keep weight off for good.

Hypertrophy is an increase in muscle cells. It happens in one of two ways.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the growth of muscle contraction parts. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases muscle glycogen storage. Myofibrillar training is designed to help with strength and speed, and sarcoplasmic training gives your body more endurance during athletic events.

When you are weightlifting, a high number of reps at a lower rate can help tone, but heavier weights will lead to more muscle definition.

When you stop working out, your muscles will atrophy, or become smaller, rather than grow fat. An increase in fat is usually the result of a poor diet.

If you need to stop working out due to an injury, try reducing your calorie intake until you can get back to the gym.

5. Bodybuilding Is Dangerous

You will likely sustain an injury if you try to lift too much too quickly. A moderate plan for a beginner, however, is a great way to start.

For safety when training, try starting with a weight you can comfortably lift about twelve to fifteen times. Be sure to learn the proper form for each exercise. If you aren’t sure which way is best, a personal trainer or fitness specialist can help.

Many trainers recommend breathing out as you lift weights. This will help reduce the strain you feel and allow you to lift more.

Before you begin strength training, try ten to fifteen minutes of aerobic activity in order to warm up your muscles. Don’t rush through your exercises, and don’t overdo your lifting. Allow a couple of days between workouts for your muscles to rest, especially if you are just starting out.

Make sure to wear training sneakers that protect your feet. Don’t ignore any pain you may be feeling. Try the exercise again a few days later with less weight.

The Strength of Female Bodybuilders

Female bodybuilders are not the bulky, masculine characters we often picture them as. They are some of the healthiest, most confident women around.

For more information on healthy workouts, read our blog today.