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Training Myths: The Truth Every Woman Needs to Know

It can be tough to know where to turn for women who want to burn fat and get in shape.

There is tons of absolutely useless information on the internet and dozens of fallacies that are stopping women from getting the figure they want.

Slowly, more and more women are understanding how an intelligent weightlifting programme is the way to optimal fat loss and sculpting an incredible body.

You only have to see some of the scores of stunning female body transformation results our clients achieve at Ultimate Performance to understand how lifting heavy weights can make you look and feel amazing.


Kelly shares 6 tips behind her impressive body transformation at Ultimate Performance. 

But even though the ‘secret’ of weightlifting appears to be getting out, many of the same old myths remain. You know the ones – ‘weights will make you bulky’, ‘women should only lift light weights’ and ‘to burn fat, just do hours of cardio’.

Here are seven of the worst ones that every woman needs to know the truth about right now…

1. Stop thinking lifting weights will make you big

If you’ve followed us for a while or seen our transformations, you’ll know that our women aren’t morphing into a female Arnold Schwarzenegger over the course of 12 weeks.

This stigma originally arrived from the bodybuilding world where chemically enhanced women brought highly muscle-bound physiques to the stage.

What the layperson forgets is that this level of muscular development is physiologically impossible to take place naturally.

Hip bridge Marbella

Learn body transformation training methodologies behind U.P.’s best transformations with the Principles of Muscle Building Program Design book.

Why? Because women have about 10 times (up to 15-20x) less testosterone than men, and so their hormonal environments are not conducive to building large amounts of muscle that men have the potential for.

Women have nothing to fear when it comes to weight training. With the right diet in place, regular weight training will help you build and uncover the coveted appearance you’ve been after for years.

Also remember, most men spend years trying and often failing to ‘get big’ with a far superior muscle building hormonal profile, so women certainly have nothing to worry about.


2. Stop thinking you can ‘tone’

There is no such thing as ‘toning’, ‘shaping’ and ‘tightening’ the muscles. Instead, what most women need to be focusing on is building muscle and losing fat, which is essentially the cornerstone of our most successful male and female transformations.

Many women are scared by the idea of gaining muscle, but this shouldn’t be the case. When you build muscle, you’ll burn more calories through an elevated metabolic rate, and as a result get leaner and look better!

What is muscle tone?

Scientifically speaking, muscle tone refers to the unconscious low-level contractions of your muscles at rest, or in layman’s, the firm feeling of the muscles when you are resting.

However, we can’t ‘tone’ our muscles. We can only increase or decrease the size of muscles, much like our fat cells.

So how do we get ‘toned’?

By gaining muscle and losing body fat! Following on from the first myth, the number one reason women get ‘bulky’ is if they have too much body fat, so this should be our first point to address.


3. Stop thinking women should only do light weight for high reps

We’ve now got a woman who doesn’t think lifting will make her big, and knows that to get ‘toned’, she needs to build muscle and lose fat.

So what does she do?

She falls into the trap many other women have too. They start performing endless sets of high repetitions with baby weights.

The problem is these marathon sets with the soup can serve zero use towards their goals, besides possibly improving muscular endurance. Instead, women need to focus on providing a real stimulus for change in their body by lifting heavy weights in the 5-15 rep range.

Progressive overload for women is paramount. With each workout, women should always strive to improve on their previous workout’s performance, whether it is through increased weight, volume or decreased rest periods.

More females need to embrace strength and the physiological and psychological benefits it brings, so they should look to add weight to the bar where they can.

Jenny front squat

4. Stop thinking you can ‘spot reduce’ fat

How many times have you heard about 50-rep triceps kickbacks to banish bingo wings, or 100-rep side bends for reducing love handles?

We’ve squashed the high-rep argument, but what about spot reducing? Is this possible?

For the most part, no. Fat distribution is largely genetically determined, so when you start to lose body fat there will always be areas that you think are ‘stubborn’, and others where fat will come off immediately.

What this means is to get rid of a stubborn area, it’ll usually require harder and longer dieting and training to ‘grind’ the last bits off.


5. Stop thinking women shouldn’t train like men

For the majority of the time, women don’t need to train differently to men, and many of the key principles and variables used in effective programming are the same for women:

  • Lift heavy in the 5-15 rep range
  • Make compound exercises the core of your programme.
  • Utilise progressive overload with your weights

Of course, there are some differences like exercise selection, frequency, volume and rest periods (which you can read about in Part 1 and Part 2), but the overall philosophy of training is pretty similar.

men and women training

6. Stop thinking you need to spend hours doing cardio

The first image that the gym conjures up for most women is a treadmill.

That’s because mainstream media have duped women into thinking the weights room is for men, and the cardio room is for women.

So what do most women do when they want to lose body fat? They ditch the weights, switch on the treadmill and run for hours.

Every single one of the hundreds of our female transformation clients at Ultimate Performance has done it the other way round.

They embrace weightlifting as their number one training modality and then used cardio to help increase energy deficits purely when necessary. It’s never the other way round.

Going down the cardio only route will lead to a ‘skinny-fat’ appearance, as you’re not going to be building any muscle tissue. And if dieting hard, you may lose some!

Remember what we need to do to get ‘toned’?  We need to build muscle and lose body fat.

That’s why cardio should always be the afterthought in a fat loss regime, never the focus.


7. Stop following women’s magazine workouts

This is the real problem we have. The majority of training information available for women is too fluffy, fake and easy.

We only have to read Tracy Anderson’s claims that anything over 3lbs is too heavy, to know the type of workouts most women are exposed to.

At UP, our female clients train the way everyone should if they want to maximise their fat loss and body composition results: hard and progressively.

If you’re a woman fed up with getting no results from your workouts, give this a go:

Fat loss workout

Wondering about tempo? Here’s an article that explains everything you need to know about maximising every single rep of your workout. 


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