5 Women’s Fitness Myths I’m Begging You to Ignore

As a fitness expert with decades of experience, the women’s fitness myths flying around the media drive me crazy. I thought it would be fun (and useful!) to take you through some of the most common fitness myths, and give you the real answers.

I’m Chris Freytag, a certified personal trainer and health coach. I help midlife women navigate their health journey to look and feel their best. Today, I’m ready to bust some myths.

These are the top women’s fitness myths I’m begging you to ignore!

Myth #1: Spot Reduction Works

Spot reduction is the idea that you can choose one area of your body to lose fat. And, I’m here to tell you spot reduction does not work. When you lose fat, it uniformly comes off all over your body. You can’t just pick an area to lose fat.

However, as you are losing fat, you can gain muscle and you can spot sculpt. So if you want a bigger bicep, then pick up a heavier weight and do bicep curls!

Myth #2: Cardio is the Best Way to Lose Fat

I love cardio. Cardio is great for heart health, and for me, it’s great mental health. But the secret to aging gracefully, losing fat, and maintaining your metabolism is strength training.

As we get older, we lose muscle. We lose about a half a pound to a pound of muscle a year if we are not actively replacing it. And the key is strength training.

If you are over the age of 40 and you are not strength training, it is absolutely time to start!

New to strength training? Start with my favorite strength training moves for women over 50.

Myth #3: The More Exercise, the Better

The next myth I commonly hear is that the more exercise, the better. That is also not true. Overtraining can lead to injury, can lead to feeling more tired, and can also lead to other health issues. The key is to listen to your body.

As we get older, things change. Rest and recovery become a key part of keeping your body healthy. I, myself, at age 58, am doing way more mobility training and stretching than I ever have, and it feels great.

Explore the best ways to add movement to your day whether it be a cardio workout, a walking pad during your workday, or a daily yoga practice. Find a level of activity that pushes you, but feels comfortable and healthy.

Listen to your body, and don’t feel pressured to over-do it!

Myth #4: Menopausal Weight Gain is Inevitable

Another myth I hear all the time from midlife women is that when you are in perimenopause or menopause, weight gain is inevitable. There’s nothing you can do about it. That’s simply not true.

Yes, your hormones are changing, but you are in charge. How you move your body and what you eat makes a difference.

For many of us getting older, we forget to pay attention to the fact that our lives may be naturally becoming more sedentary. Not always, but a lot of us used to be chasing kids or running from sporting event to sporting event. We’re sitting on the couch a bit more, spending more time at our desks, and ultimately burning less calories throughout the day.

And if you’re not strength training you’re also burning less metabolic calories. Muscle burns more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat does. The less muscle you have, the less you burn.

And yes, weight gain can happen. But you are in charge of what you put in your mouth. That’s the number one decision you make every day. So get rid of the processed food, chemicals, and junk.

Focus on the best foods for menopause symptoms, and move your body more!

Myth #5: Strength Training Will Bulk You Up

The last myth I hear all the time is, well, I’m afraid to lift weights, especially heavy ones, because I’m afraid I’m going to bulk up. You will not bulk up. Most of us females do not have the testosterone levels to support bulking up like you think of when you think of somebody getting a lot of hypertrophy.

So pick up those weights. If you’re just getting started, 5 pound weights are perfect. Don’t hurt yourself, but work your way up. Maybe eventually you’re using 10, 12, or 15 pound weights.

Be consistent, and focus on building muscle.

A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same. But think of a pound of muscle like a piece of meat. It’s small, compact, and dense. Think of a pound of fat like cotton candy. It’s got a lot of air in it. It takes up a lot more space.

So the more muscle you have, you may actually shrink your body.

As a fitness expert, I want women to understand how their health works so they can live their best lives. I’ve loved debunking these common women’s fitness myths with you so that you can make the best strategic choices for your health and wellbeing.

It’s never too late to start making impactful changes for your future!