First is the belief that intense training of the muscles can bulk a woman up, making her look masculine. Secondly, is the belief that those flimsy “trim-and-tone” exercises and light cardio are enough to get one in good shape. From these two persistent myths stems the idea that women and men need different exercises to accommodate their physical differences.
Will I Look Like A Man?
If getting bulky is a concern, rest assured that as long as a woman is not taking artificial male hormones or unsafe muscle building substance, it is not possible to develop the massive muscles of a bodybuilder. This is because the female body lacks the testosterone that the male body has to build huge muscles. In fact, even a normal man cannot gain those kinds of muscles without the aid of substances.
The “bulking myth” lead a lot women to fear strength training and opt for moderate intensity “toning” exercises, only to get stuck on a ‘treadmill to no where’ instead of seeing results.
Trim and Tone with Light Weights
“Toning” is a myth. The term actually refers to the state of the muscles, which are in constant partial contraction when relaxed to be ready for action. It is involuntary.
In the fitness industry, the term is often misleadingly used in programs marketed to women; implying firmness and definition. Most exercises that claim to “tone” the body include short periods of cardiovascular or aerobic activities to lose fat and high repetitions using light weights (usually three to five pounds) to firm and tighten the muscles while avoiding mass gain.
These exercises do not offer enough resistance to build muscle tissue, let alone “sculpt” the body. They are only good for rehabilitation purposes. On the other hand, just doing cardio burns fat but does not train the muscles.
The fact is muscles can either strengthen and grow, stay the same or weaken and shrink. Likewise, fats on the body can either increase, remain the same or decrease. Firmness and definition becomes possible only when one’s body fat percentage is low enough and muscle tissues increase.
Self-Imposed Double Standard
If a woman is told she has to take a second grade program that caters to her gender at college or work, it would be considered gender discrimination. Sadly, women subject themselves to second-grade programs when it comes to their physical well-being. Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blue Print thinks “It’s insane, it’s preposterous, and it’s downright insulting. Men and women have different work capacities and different natural inclinations, but their bodies still work the same way.”
Contrary to popular belief, women don’t need to exercise differently from men, nor is there a need for women to exercise cautiously so as not to bulk up. Sisson agrees, “Men generally do produce enough natural testosterone (the ultimate muscle-building hormone) to get big, and most of us still have trouble building a significant amount of muscle. Just imagine how difficult it is to bulk up for a woman.”
Women should learn to do the right exercises with high intensity and resistance, working around their trouble spots. Don’t forget that rest and recovery as well as sensible eating are also essential for progress.
Perfection can’t be attained in a week or two, but as long as you switch to a healthy, active lifestyle and stop listening to negative talkers, the results of your efforts will show in the form of a sexy sculpted body in due time.
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