Let’s talk about some of these heavy (heavy means that you are lifting 60% or more of your one rep max) weight lifting myths that are still hanging around…
Myth #1 : Muscle weighs more than fat – Seriously, one pound is one pound, right? One pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat or one pound of feathers. The difference between muscle and fat is this: one pound of muscle takes up less room than one pound of fat. It’s not that muscle weighs more than fat, it’s that fat has more volume than muscle.
Take two women weighing 130 pounds of the exact same height and body type. Woman A lifts heavy weights on a regular basis along with doing her cardio activities and has a body fat of under 30 %. Woman B does not lift heavy weights and only does cardio activities for her exercise. Her body fat is higher than 30%. Woman A will be able to wear a much smaller dress size than woman B because her body weight is comprised of more muscle which takes up less room than fat. Besides, because muscles increase your BMR which keeps your body mass lean and your metabolism running optimally, woman A will be able to eat more food each day than woman B who does do cardio, but doesn’t lift weights. Steady state cardio workouts burn limited fat and calories at the time activity but they don’t carry forward the post exercise benefits that heavier weight lifting does. Having more muscle on your body is the way to go.
Myth #2 : Lifting heavy weights will make you gain weight – Excluding temporary weight gain from water retention, the only way to gain weight is to consume junk calories and/or eating more calories than you burn. Lifting heavy weights burns calories, it does not add them to your body. It is impossible to gain weight from just lifting heavy weights. All these women in the picture below weigh 150 pounds.
Myth #3 : Only light weights will lean you out – Getting “cut” is a result of decreasing your body’s subcutaneous fat, and in order to do that , you have to eat superior food and/or less calories than you burn. It does not have anything to do with your rep range is or how heavy the weights are that you lift.
Myth #4: Heavy Weights will make Women Bulky – Since muscle takes up less space than fat if you just maintain your current body weight and increase your lean muscle mass you will become smaller, not bigger. Woman can build muscle, get stronger and improve their physique by lifting heavy weights, but they will certainly never build as much muscle mass as a man since they have a lower testosterone level. So unless they use steroids, women will always look feminine.
If your thighs increase in size after starting a heavy weight program it is either because of temporary water weight gain or because you are consuming more calories than you are burning, or are eating too much processed foods. Even if you lose one pound of fat in your thighs and gain one pound of muscle, your thighs will still shrink in size since muscle take up only about a third of the space fat does.
Myth #5: Light weights are better for women– There really is no difference between the weights a man or a woman should use in their training program. Light weights are great to use in a circuit, endurance or a low impact cardio program to burn extra calories, but they are not as efficient as heavy weights in developing lean muscle mass.
When you lift a weight, or for that matter any heavy object, the muscle you’re using must contract. Not the entire muscle contracts, just some of the thousands of muscle fibers that make up the muscle contract. The body learns through life experiences just how many muscle fibers it needs to contract to lift an object of a certain weight. When you life a heavy weight, your muscles contract much more forcefully and in greater abundance than say the muscles used to pick up a glass of water. To maximize efficiency the body only uses the minimum amount of muscle fibers necessary to lift an object. And each individual muscle fiber either contracts 100% or it doesn’t. Period. There is no such thing as an individual muscle fiber contracting at 20% or 50%. This means when you only do an exercise with a light weight only a very small percentage of your muscle fibers in that particular muscle performing the exercise are doing any work at all. The rest of your muscle fibers within that particular muscle are doing absolutely nothing and getting pretty much zero benefit from the exercise. Engage as many muscle fibers within that particular muscle as possible makes sense, doesn’t it? And this means lifting heavy weights.
There you have it. The end.