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Don’t Fall for These 5 Myths About Women and Weightlifting

If you’d never consider owning a set of free weights or consistently steer clear of the weight room at the gym, you probably do so for a reason. Perhaps you’ve fallen prey to one (or more) of several commonly held false beliefs about women and weightlifting. And who can really blame you? After all, in the grand scheme of things, strength training has only become common for women relatively recently. It’s not like most of us have heirloom weights passed down to us by our mothers and grandmothers. For first-generation gym-goers, lifting can feel like pretty uncharted territory. To clear up the confusion around women and weightlifting, we chatted with the experts to debunk several false beliefs.

1. Weightlifting is just for men. With the age-old masculine pursuit of strength — and the history of male domination in bodybuilding — it can be easy to believe that lifting weights isn’t very feminine. But according to Rachel Straub, M.S., Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and author of Weight Training Without Injury, “Weightlifting is for both men and women.” Straub notes that strength training provides numerous benefits that certainly aren’t limited by gender, including better posture, reduced risk of injury, healthier bone strength, and improved athletic performance. “This is why the American College of Sports Medicine advises all healthy adults to weight train at least two days a week,” she says.

2. It’ll make you bulk up like an action figure. Don’t want your workouts to make you look like He-Man? Don’t worry. Weight lifting doesn’t necessarily lead to an action figure bod of rippling calves and Hulk-Smash arms… unless you seriously pursue that goal. “It’s very hard for women to get bulky when they lift weights,” says Straub. “Women don’t have the high testosterone levels that men do, which are needed to add muscle mass. Plus, the amount of weightlifting that needs to occur to build massive muscles is hours a day, every day, for many years.”

3. You’ll get hurt. We’ll grant that lifting something the size and heft of an anvil can potentially be dangerous. Haven’t we all seen the fail videos where something goes terribly wrong with weights? But when it comes to weight training, injury tends to happen because of improper form, not the weights themselves. “Any exercise can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions,” says Stephanie Blozy, M.S. of Exercise Science and owner of Fleet Feet athletic apparel in West Hartford, CT. “Like rock climbing or even Pilates, it’s best to learn the basics — especially form, since it’s paramount to staying safe — from a professional first.” If you’re looking to begin a weightlifting practice, start right with the supervision of a trainer so you can eventually lift safely on your own.

4. You’ll have to go protein-crazy. Don’t buy into the hype that once you start lifting, your body suddenly needs a macronutrient overhaul. Yes, weightlifting breaks down tissue in order to build muscle — and yes, protein is what builds this muscle — but according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), “While athletes’ protein needs are greater than that of non-athletes, they’re not as high as commonly perceived.”

The AND, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine all recommend a range of 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for strength training, depending on intensity level. For a 150-pound woman, for example, this would mean a range of 82 to 136 grams of protein per day. High-protein whole foods like Greek yogurt, edamame, meat, seafood, and soybeans can easily help you reach daily protein goals through diet alone, without the addition of supplements.

5. You’ll have to do it all the time to see results. Like any other form of exercise, you do of course have to make strength training a habit for maximum benefit. Still, you may not need to hit the weights as often as you think to see results. “You don’t need to lift all the time!” says Straub, mentioning that two days a week is advised, but that other factors like diet and the design of your weightlifting program also have a major influence on the sculpting and toning of your physique.

Intriguingly, some research even indicates that just one day of lifting per week could yield results. A study of older adults in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, as long as participants lifted “to muscular fatigue,” they improved their strength just as well with once-weekly strength training as with lifting twice a week. It may not be an excuse to go too easy with your workouts, but it’s certainly encouraging to know that even starting small can lead to significant gains.

Do you lift? Think you might start? Tweet us at @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

Alright, folks. We've officially made it to fall. And if you haven't already started switching out your decor (as long as it's ready by Friendsgiving, right?) you still have time to do so. Draw inspiration from this round-up of new home products that includes harvest-inspired candles, cozy linens and textiles, and a v. practical piece of furniture. One scroll through these, and you'll have all the motivation you need to transition the seasons. Scroll on to start shopping.

Prism x LOREM Collection ($96+): Calling all Cali babes. The popular Long Beach boutique, Prism, announced a boho-fabulous collab with home decor line, LOREM, that we can't get enough of. Shop everything from plant hangers (eight options, to be exact) to artwork, all inspired by the very colorful vibes of the brands. If you were looking for a cheery way to tide you through winter, this. is. it!

Floyd Mattress (Price TBD): Fans of the cult-favorite Detroit-based brand will love their latest launch debuting on October 29. The highly-coveted Floyd Mattress will have the same made-to-last design and superior comfort as their other furnishings, tailored perfectly to fit the line's in-demand bed frame. Additional details for the mattress include a breathable foam material, highly-mobile packaging, and a low-profile design to secure your best night's sleep yet. Check back on the last week of the month to get one for yourself.

Dims 'Composed Vanity' ($595): Small space? No problem! Direct-to-consumer brand, Dims, is giving you a quick and stylish solution to your storage needs with their newest item that doubles as both a desk and vanity. The functional piece is made with non-toxic, chemical-free materials and can be assembled in seven minutes or less. Throw in four sleek shades to choose from, and this may just be your best purchase of 2019 yet!

Saatchi Art x The Citizenry Holiday Collection ($225+): Get ready to deck your walls this holiday season. Saatchi Art partnered with The Citizenry in a one-of-a-kind collection that features a curation of art across styles. Explore everything from modern to abstract creations in a selection so stunning, it's bound to spark a conversation at your next gathering.

NEST Spiced Orange & Clove Collection ($16+): If you haven't experienced the addicting aromas of the beloved NEST fragrance brand, this is the perfect time to get on board! The label recently released their latest scent — spiced orange & clove — just in time for all your gatherings. Inhale festive notes of orange pomander, spiced brandy, cinnamon, and gingered honey across their suite of candles and diffusers to bring all the good vibes to your home.

Bloomingdales x RiLEY Home ($19+): RiLEY Home gets millennials. So they teamed up with Bloomingdales to make shopping their selection more attainable than ever. Now, you can get in on long-lasting, luxurious staples like flannel sheets, bedding, printed throws, premium pet beds, and more, by shopping online and in-stores at the department store. (Trust us: These dream goods are ones you're going to be *glad* you stocked-up on.)

Italic Serene Towels ($12+): The luxury brand that prides itself on using the *same* factories namesake brands (like Calvin Klein and Lacoste) use, but without the price tag behind them, brings you a new product for fall. Treat yourself to Italic's ultra-soft towel set spun from fluffy, 100% Australian cotton, in a convenient set of six. Consider it the perfect indulgence after a long soak in the tub on a cozy FNI (Friday night in)!

Hyascent x Neiman Marcus ($169): 'Tis the season for a delightfully scented home. Warm your abode with scents like bourbon joy, cheeky rose and more in a unique diffuser that doubles more as decor than a fragrance-inducer. Fresh off the (online) shelves of Neiman Marcus, explore nine scents that last up to six months in a specialized hourglass holder. (Shhh! Your friends will never know the secret of why your place smells so darn good!)