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Myth Busting: 5 muscle building myths for women

Struggling to build muscle? Or, hoping to embark on a muscle building journey? There are many myths that women are used to hearing. Let's find out.

Building muscle doesn’t happen overnight, however, resistance training isn’t just the route to a lean, defined body, it can also help protect joints and bones whilst also improving our posture. Plus, there’s no harm in feeling strong! So, whilst we’re all for muscle building for women, there are a few myths floating around that need to be addressed.
  1. Lifting heavy will always give me an injury

Well, let’s face it, doing anything can result in an injury. Whilst lifting weights does pose some risks, the health and body benefits of resistance training are spectacular. It’s all about perfecting your form and doing the moves properly. If you’re engaging the correct muscles, working on your posture and focusing on stability throughout the move, then you’re likely going to be actually decreasing your risk of injury. Plus, if you enjoy cardio, for example long runs or cycles, then pairing these with resistance training is a sure fire way to help strengthen muscles and joints, to make the cardio workouts more effective. If you do feel sore from lifting heavy weights, then a day of rest and plenty of foam rolling and stretching, can often be the relief you need.

  1. I’m a woman...I can’t grow muscles

Absolutely not true. Essentially, women produce less testosterone than men. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a huge role in muscle building, and women can produce 20 times less of this hormone than males. However, women produce a lot of the hormone oestrogen, which also helps with muscle building.

So, the notion that women can’t grow muscles is nonsense. The reason why women might think they can’t grow muscle like men, is because men start off with more muscle in the first place so women have a harder time essentially playing ‘catch up’. So, it makes sense that muscle growth is a slower process for women as men do have a bit of a head start in the muscle-growth-hormone department.
  1. Lifting weights will make you bulky

The biggest myth of them all for women, which ties in a little with the myth above. Perhaps you’re put off lifting heavy weights for fear of looking like a big, bulky male? Well, it’s worth noting that it’s hard for a woman to build big bulk and it can take many years of strength training, and a true devotion to diet.

Plus, the hormonal differences, as mentioned above. As well as this, women typically store more fat than men. It’s just one of those things. So to have the lean, ‘toned’ look with less body fat and no ‘bulk’, women do have to work that little bit harder in the gym and in the kitchen to burn off the fat whilst building the muscle.
  1. I need to keep changing my workout to ‘shock’ my muscles

Rather than constantly changing up your entire weight lifting regime, you only need to make minor tweaks and adjustments to your current plan. Progressive Overload: two words that are important to remember here, instead of giving your muscles a ‘shock’. Progressive overload simply means increasing the amount of stress placed on your muscles over time. This typically means lifting heavier weights but it also suggests varying rep count as well as tempo. So for example, on a bench press, you might press up 1 second, hold for 2, then slowly come down for 3. So no, there’s not need to ‘shock’ your muscles, just be sure to keep them on their toes a little and make sure you aren’t stuck in a workout weight lifting rut.

  1. Eating protein will make me fat

The thing to remember with food, is that too much of anything will make you fat. That is, if you consume more calories than you expend, it will eventually result in weight gain. The reason why protein is so important when it comes to muscle building, is because muscle tissue itself is mostly made up of protein, so providing the muscles with adequate amounts, allows them to grow.

It requires a substantial amount of protein to grow muscle. Incorporating foods such as lean meats (chicken, turkey, lean steaks), fish, legumes, protein powder, eggs, dairy and tofu into each of your meals is a safe way to ensure that you’re closer to hitting your protein intake. Protein is also a highly satiating macronutrient; that is, it helps you feel fuller. So, instead of seeing protein as something that will make you gain fat, see it as fuel for your muscles that could potentially stop you reaching for sugary snacks when those cravings kick in.

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