Fitness columnist Emmet Rushe uncovers the truth behind seven of the most common beliefs about female fitness.

Today I am going to lay out a few myths that just won’t seem to die when it comes to women and training. I hear these on a regular basis and my clients hear them all the time when they start training with me.
I’m sure you have heard some of these yourself and maybe even believed 1 or 2 of them.

1. “Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights.”

This is something that I hear on a daily basis.
The usual line goes ‘I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get too bulky. I just want to tone up.”
That ‘toned’ look that nearly every woman wants is the result of a low level of body fat and an increase in muscle.
Lifting lighter weights for higher repetitions will not ‘tone’ and shape your muscles. There is simply not enough stimulus for the muscle.
Ladies, you are not going to wake up one morning, look in the mirror and say, ‘Whoops!  I went and got too big’.  It’s never going to happen. So get lifting 😀

2. ’You can ‘Spot Reduce’ fat’’:

What I mean by ‘spot reduce’ is the idea that if you don’t like your tummy, then all you have to do is a load of sit ups and you will only burn fat on your tummy.
The body doesn’t work that way I’m afraid.
You cannot burn fat from only one area of the body.
When you eat right and train, you will lose fat from all over your body. If you naturally carry fat in a particular area of your body, then this will be the hardest to lose it from.
Get a sound nutrition and training plan and this will help speed up the process.
Have patience and the results will come.

3. “Sit-ups burn fat”:

Sit ups do not burn fat, a calorie deficit is the best way to do this.
However, they can improve the look of the area, you just need to lower the % body fat to reveal this.

4. “Doing hours of cardio will get you the body you want.”

Every day, I see people who want to get in shape coming into the gym, going through the same cardio machines day in and day out.
If you enjoy it, keep doing it. Enjoying what you do is one of the most important parts of any training program.
If you want to change the shape of your body, you don’t necessarily need cardio, but you absolutely need to weight train.
Your diet will govern your weight loss; the right training will help you get to where you want when it comes to the shape of your body.

5. “Women need to train differently from men!”

There is absolutely no reason that women should train differently from men.
In fact, doing bigger compound exercises like squats, push ups, lunges, pull ups and dead lifts will have a better effect than isolation exercises like leg extensions, bicep curls and triceps kickbacks.
These bigger exercises allow you to move more weight so you are stimulating more muscle, which will help you get better results.
The other exercises can be done after.

6. “Muscle will turn to fat when you stop training!”

This is impossible. Muscle cannot turn to fat.
That’s like saying a toaster can turn into a kettle. They are two completely different entities.
If you stop training and over eat calories, you may lose some muscle mass and gain some body fat, but you can easily rectify this with a few tweaks to your diet and by starting training again, so don’t worry.

7. ‘’If you lift weights, you will gain weight’’

Muscle does not weigh more than fat.
A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat.
However, muscle takes up much less surface area, so even though the weight on the scales might not change that much, your clothes could fit much better and the shape of your body could drastically change for the better.
That is much better than any number the scale can give.