Katherine Switzer

Women’s Workout Myths

I am going to focus on women and why your workout isn’t working for you.

Please don’t get offended by anything I say or get your feelings hurt. We are just going to chat about workout myths.

I am just going to give you an honest opinion on how you can change your workout to lose fat and tone up.

Man, I hate that phrase. Let’s call it what it is. I am going to show you how to build muscle because really that is what you are after.

Not big bulky muscles but toned, strong muscles that make you look like you are in shape…because you are in shape.

The idea is to get more out of your workout or in some cases, start getting something out of your workouts.

workout myths bustedIf I can brag a little.

Probably 70% of my clients are women and of those, everyone is 45-70. Some of them come from the old school of Jazzercise, Step,Pilates and some have never lifted at all.

The vast majority of women who have trained with me for more than a few weeks have dropped dress sizes. That is awesome. But he most common comment I get is that they love how strong they are getting without looking strong. You know what I mean?

  • They can do regular stuff like carry groceries without their arms and back hurting.
  • They can pick up their kids and grand-kids without any problem.
  • They can get down on the floor and back up without their knees hurting.

That is fitness to me.

To get there, you may have to unlearn some potent workout myths about women and exercise.

So let’s get started with the list. If you don’t want to believe me, look at my testimonials. If you don’t believe that, I will get you some phone numbers.

In many cases, the women I train are now stronger than their husbands. Ha! I love that!

Keep in mind, these workout myths are all cultural myths. Not all cultures have the same ideas about fitness as they do in America. A workout myth then is really just something that was taken to be true a long time ago and never challenged…until now.

These workout myths are outdated ideas that damage you.

If you were brought up with the idea that it was inappropriate for women to sweat and get dirty, then that is going to be a basis for how you look at exercise.

If you grew up with the idea of starving yourself to fit into a dress, that may end up being your concept of nutrition.

If you grew up thinking women are the weaker of the sexes and it is “not proper” to lift heavy weights, that will be your view on strength training.


Workout Myth 1: Men and Women should exercise differently.

Fact: There is no such thing as a workout program for men and a separate workout program for women.

workout myths bustedThis is such an outdated argument, I can’t believe it is still around. If I were a woman, I would find this to be insulting.

Men should lift heavy weights because…well they are men. That is what they do.

Women should dance around for an hour because…well women like to dance.

And if you want to lift weights, pick up the lightest, most colorful dumbbells possible. That is just demeaning.

Muscle is muscle. No doubt we have different chemistry and hormonal levels but in the end, there is only one way to stimulate a muscle to grow no matter what sex you are.

You have to overload the muscle with enough stress to break it down, then give it time to heal and repair and it will stronger and be able to contract more efficiently.

Thank goodness for Crossfit. I may have some issues with the way Crossfit works but the one major contribution they have made to society is that they have both sexes doing the same workout. About time!


Workout Myth 2: There are “Lady” exercises

Fact: Huh?

Katherine Switzer

Katherine Switzer trying to run the first Boston marathon in 1966 while course officials try to yank her off the course because women shouldn’t run marathons.












This workout myth is brought to you by the same morons who thought it was unhealthy for women to run marathons. This is almost as bad as the scientists who thought your heart would explode if you ran a sub 4 minute mile.

There are no “men” exercises just as there are no “Women” exercises. An exercise is either going to be effective at tearing down muscle tissue and making stronger or it isn’t. Marketers are the ones that have created this divide to sell you your gender appropriate workout.

Workout Myth 3: High reps for lean muscle

Fact: No, low reps for lean muscle.

What in the heck is lean muscle anyway? Ever wonder about that?

Ever hear the term fat muscle?

I wonder what marketing wiz came up with that one. Muscle is muscle. It is never lean or fat. However, it can be in a state of hypertrophy (growing) or atrophy (shrinking).

It has to be one or the other.

The point of exercising with resistance is to break muscle fiber down and then let it rebuild in a stronger state.

When you lift light weights for high reps, you never break down the muscle fiber. The pain you feel is lactic acid and other waste products building up in the cell.

Look at it this way, if light repetitive movements built muscle, then manual laborers would all be built like Arnold.

Doesn’t happen does it?

Workout Myth 4: Heavy weights lead to big, bulky muscles

M Factor FitnessFact: Hormone levels determine muscle size.

Take a man and a woman and lets work them out for a while. Say they want to “Get in Shape” meaning lose some fat and build some muscle. Divide them into 2 test groups.

Test 1: High rep, low intensity workouts.

At the end of 12 weeks they both should have lost some weight. Depending on how out of shape they were, they could have gained a little muscle and appear to be slightly more tone. Their cardio will be better but most likely their metabolism will be about the same, meaning they burn as many calories at rest as they did before they started. As long as they do the high rep stuff, they can lose weight, which will be a mixture of fat and muscle being burned. But the moment they stop exercising, they will start putting weight back on. Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Really, they have lost some weight and become a smaller version of themselves.

 Test 2: Lower reps (8-12) with heavier weights.

After 12 weeks they both will have gained muscle and lost fat. The man will have more visible muscles while the women will appear more tone. Their shape will change and their metabolism has been increased.

This is due to the difference in hormonal makeup. This will be a greatly simplified explanation.

The man has more testosterone. Testosterone builds muscle and strength. And men have a much higher ration of testosterone to estrogen.

Women have more estrogen. Estrogen helps to retain fat and give you the soft rounded look. It is terrible for building muscles but great for reproduction.

So if you have a high estrogen to testosterone ratio, it will be harder to build muscle and even harder, if not impossible, to build big muscles.

But there are 2 real takeaways here.

As a women, you have changed your metabolism. You will now burn more calories at rest that you had before.

You have changed your shape. Muscle takes up less room than fat. You have lowered your body fat but you are also in command of how your body looks.

What about female bodybuilders?

Ever notice they look kinda manly? Take steroids and you will rocket your testosterone. As a female, this will allow you to build muscle faster and will also give you some other manly characteristics such as facial hair, a lower voice and thickened bones.

All I am saying here is don’t be afraid to lift heavy. You won’t get big muscles but you will get the results you want.

I have been training women this way for well over a decade and the only thing that happens is they drop dress sizes and gain confidence with the newfound strength.

Workout Myth 5: Lifting heavy weights make you bulky.

Fact: A bad diet makes you bulky.

Muscle is muscle. You can’t change the shape of it. All you can do is train it to make it tone. This is where sound nutrition comes in.

Eat too much and you put a nice slab of fat over your muscle. That is when you look and feel bulky. Bulk is nothing more than that.

Usually the culprit is too many carbs. Working out and exercising hard can make you ravenous. Eating protein will never make you gain fat but eating too many carbs will.


Technically the body can convert protein, carbs and fat to fat if it has to. Protein gets broken down into amino acids and absorbed into the body for muscle repair, immune system functions etc…

Carbs are sugars and are easy to break down. Once you have enough glycogen stored in the liver and bloodstream, the body will  convert excess carbs into fat for storage.

So…if you are exercising and see yourself starting to bulk up, don’t starve yourself, just cut back a little on the carbs or add a little more cardio to the workouts.

Which brings us to the last myth.

Workout Myth 6: Eat salads to lose weight

Fact: Eat salads to gain weight. Eat protein to lose fat.

If you don’t eat enough, the muscles will never have the building blocks to grow and get stronger. This is not a workout myth but a nutrition one. Does eating clean mean eating like a bunny? It may be feminine to order a salad and eat half of it…I guess. I would prefer my wife orders a nice chunk of protein with a couple vegetables. That way you get protein, fats, fiber and vitamins.

The bottom line

There are three major things you can do today to improve your health and your workouts. Seeing these workout myths for what they are is the first step. remember, the idea of the athletic women is a relatively new concept. This is happening in our lifetime!

  1. Workout with weights and lift heavier.
  2. Get enough sleep.
  3. Eat protein and vegetables. You don’t have to go crazy with it, just eat more.

If you need additional help with any of this, I have an awesome online training program you can get for only $10/month. Click here for details.