Blame the media, pop culture, or marketing – probably all three – but so many outdated, harmful female fitness myths still have us believing their lies.
We’ve come a long way in terms of body positivity, understanding holistic health, and working to debunk diet culture, and yet…these are some of the biggest fitness myths that still have their hooks in our collective subconscious.
Fallen for These Female Fitness Myths? Join the Club!
If you’ve ever fallen for these female fitness myths – or even still are bought in – no shame! We’ve all been there. Don’t beat yourself up.
We all work hard on our health but toxic diet culture, fat-phobia, and the fitness industry works harder, making us fall for these female fitness myths and keeping us reaching for that next magic pill or shiny fitness plan.
Health can exist at every size and we are put on this earth for much more than to adhere to fickle and ever-changing body “trends”.
Let’s separate fact from fiction. Here are five of the biggest female fitness myths, in no particular order, and the truths you need to know about each.
5 Female Fitness Myths:
1. That Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulk Up
Groan. Who hasn’t heard this trope? It’s an oldie, but a misconception that’s somehow still alive and well; the myth that if you lift weights in the gym you’ll “bulk up,” gaining muscle mass as a man would.
Simply put, our body’s just don’t have it in them. Naturally, women’s bodies produce far less testosterone than a man’s. And testosterone is one of the key factors responsible for building that “bulky” muscle mass.
So lift all you want and as heavy as you want – it’s simply not possible for women to get “bulky.” (Not without steroids!)
What will female weight training result in? If you lift properly and consistently (building muscle doesn’t happen by accident!) you may gain lean muscle mass, feel strong and capable as hell, and take strides toward improving your bone density and warding off the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Lifting is one of the best things you can do to prevent this disease. Read 5 Facts About Women’s Bone Health and Osteoporosis You Might Not Know
See you at the weight rack!
2. That You Need to Do Daily Cardio
Another mainstay of the female fitness myths is that cardio is king and when it comes to sweating it out on the treadmill or stairmaster, more is more. But not so fast.
There’s no denying the benefits of getting your heart pumping and the sweat dripping. Proper amounts of cardio has benefits for our blood pressure, brain, immune systems, and even mood and sleep quality, the science is clear!
But the American Heart Association recommends about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise spread out over the whole week – which breaks down to only a little more than 20 minutes a day.
And this can include anything from running, jogging, walking at an incline, swimming, dancing, tennis, or gardening. So if you’re still forcing yourself to slough it out on the treadmill, stairmaster, or any other form of cardio because you think you “have” to – the science says otherwise.
3. That Yoga or Low Impact Movements Somehow Don’t “Count” as a “Real” Workout”
Probably preaching to the choir on this female fitness myth – because any yogi knows, there’s no better workout for mind, body and spirit!
But there’s still a sneaky myth perpetuated by the “no pain no gain” trope, that to “count” as a workout, it has to be high intensity, exhausting or just plain brutal.
It’s time we toss this one out for good. Equating a “successful” workout to sloughing along, painful movements and generally beating your body up is wildly problematic in a myriad of ways.
Whether it’s tai chi, yoga, running a marathon, hot girl walks or swimming, all exercise can improve mood, reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimers, lower rates of depression, and more, according to many studies, including this 2019 study that found clear physical benefits in even lightest forms of movement.
Takeaway: Move however and however long suits you!
Ready to Move, Ground, and Breathe Goddess?
If all this fitness talk has you itching to move, check out our YA Classes Ground Into Goddess class. Rooted in yoga but with a playful, primal twist, this is a fun, fluid class that will leave you feeling creative and sensual – because not all workouts have to be high impact to have an impact!
4.That You Must Follow a Rigid Diet to See Results
This myth is such a deep-rooted one for many of us, and to delve into it fully would require a much longer article. Most of us have grown up aware of countless diets from Atkins to keto to paleo and countless others.
The diet industry is, at the end of the day, a multi billion dollar business model designed to prey on our insecurities and keep us literally buying into the next fad.
And as so much research has shown, diets are ineffective. A robust body of research shows almost all dieters only see short term results and boomerang right back to their starting point.
Diets are unsustainable at their core, villainizing food can lead to disordered eating, binging, and all sorts of negative psychological effects, and the truth of changing your body’s shape and size is incredibly complex.
For an alternative approach to unsustainable, potentially dangerous dieting, learn the basics of the anti-diet movement, here.
5. That the Ultimate Metric of Success Is Weight Loss
The biggie we saved for last.
Perhaps the most false yet most prevalent female fitness myth that underpins all others and colors so much of our views of health and fitness is the notion that the ultimate goal is to shrink ourselves and lose weight.
This thought is enmeshed in the media we consume, the Tiktok feeds we scroll, the stores we shop from, and in sneaky ways we don’t even realize.
It will likely take a lot more than one article to shake this outdated belief. But if you can work on breaking free from its tendrils, it’s a game changer. Realizing that health can exist at every size and we are put on this earth for much more than to adhere to fickle and ever-changing body “trends,” is truly everything.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, ditch this myth and you might just change your whole life.
Here’s to Letting Go of Female Fitness Myths & Shaking up Your Beliefs About Fitness!
What would your next year of fitness look like if physical and physique related goals weren’t at the forefront? What if you didn’t see cardio as a necessary punishment but focused on mastering the pull up, being able to run a mile, master that goal yoga pose, or pick up a regular walk habit?
We dare you to check your science, challenge your beliefs, think outside the myths and see how things change.