Lifestyle

The Muscle Myth – Why Girls Shouldn’t Be Afraid of the Gym

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Not just for Christmas…

As girls, we all know that January 1st stems a frenzy of gym-goers all piling into the cardio room to shed those festive pounds. We also know that 75% of these treadmill terrors will have given up by Valentine’s Day… if not before! But as the New Year approaches and the age of the fit female is hitting its peak, it’s important to understand why a gym membership is for life, not just for Christmas!

Gone are the days when male gym-goers would stop and stare in shock at a woman entering the weights section, and lately more and more females are reaping the amazing rewards a gym membership has to offer. Girls, we shouldn’t be scared of the gym… in fact, we should embrace it!

 

Mind, Body and Smile…

As an avid gym-goer myself, it’s easy to explain why a healthy and fit lifestyle is good for your health, your mind, your body and your self esteem. Not only physical rewards are up for grabs, but the mental and emotional benefits are astounding. At the beginning of my gym career, I was among those girls who thought having a gym membership was only for Jocks or bodybuilders, and stepping foot inside a weights room would infect me with so much testosterone that my voice would break… but the reality is, as a woman, a few weights sessions a week won’t mean you wake up like Arnie. Instead, a well sculpted and toned body, and looking killer in the fitting rooms on those inevitable shopping trips is what you can achieve.

Working out makes you feel GOOD. It’s a fact – or if it isn’t yet, it should be! It may be hard at first, and at times you’d rather sit on the sofa watching Hollyoaks, but the more you do it, the more addictive it becomes, until you reach a point where exercise de-stresses you, clears your mind, cheers you up and becomes part of your daily routine.

 

Bulging Biceps? No thanks!

It’s genetics. As women, we carry only 10% of the testosterone of a man, making it harder to build muscle and a natural storage of around 12% more fat at least. So, though the free weights mat may be full of bulking body builders, don’t be afraid to show them that girls can lift too. But don’t worry -It would take a good few years and very strict training to be in danger of Hulk Hogan arms!

The biggest misconception among girls embarking on a fitness plan is that to lose weight, you have to stick to cardio. Men have the goal of bulking, weight gain and muscle gain, so why would we want to do the same? In actual fact, though cardiovascular exercise and raising the heart rate WILL make you lose weight, strength training and weights will change the shape of your body dramatically; aiding the calorie burning process, boosting your metabolism and helping you tone at the same time. It’s said that 3 weight lifting sessions a week can burn as many calories as an hour’s run, or swimming for 40 minutes.

 

The Scale Obsessive’s…

Another fitness flaw prone to the female population is the obsessive following of numbers and scales – frantically trying to reach a ‘goal weight’ or to weigh the same as a celebrity counterpart. When you take your fitness seriously, you learn that numbers don’t mean much. A pound of fat takes up over twice as much space in the body as a pound of muscle, so if you lose 4lbs in fat, but gain 4lbs in muscle, you will be visually and aesthetically smaller, more toned, yet weigh the same! So don’t fret if after a few weeks of strength training the scales don’t seem to budge, you could in fact be a lot smaller,  but the proud owner of some serious muscle toning! If you want to keep track of your progress, keep a diary with how many reps you can do in the gym, and try to up them after each week. Or better still; record your body measurements across your stomach, thighs, arms and hips, as well as asking your gym for a body-fat-percentage count. You will soon start to see drastic results, even if the scales stay put!

 

Shake-Away…

When talking to my female peers, another fear they have about keeping in shape is the protein shake! After glugging one back, many girls seem to think you’ll burst out into a Popeye-style body builder pose and need to pump iron for 2 hours just to burn it off…. surprisingly, they’re wrong! On the market today are many supplements and shakes perfect for women and the fitness goals we have. A great example is a Low-carb, lean protein whey. By mixing one of these up post-workout, it replaces the sugars and proteins lost during your gym session, and because it’s carb-free and low-fat it won’t aid to any weight gain at all. By having a high protein diet your muscles will repair easily and quickly, allowing your muscles to repair and grow ready for your next run! If shakes and proteins aren’t your style, there are many herbal and natural energy supplements available too, which give you that little extra boost to make the most out of your work out. Try green-tea capsules 30 minutes before you train to give you a natural boost in energy during your work out.

 

So girls, do us proud and join the fit generation. Banish those gym fears and beat the Muscle Myths… after all, skinny girls may look good in clothes, but fit girls look good naked!

 

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