Why Are Women Afraid to Have Muscles ?
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
That is a question that puzzles me. In the time that I've been with Spark People, I've been surprized by the number of women who post and say that they don't do any strength training because they are afraid to pack on muscle. I've seen dozens of posts from people who don't want to run or cycle for the same reason i.e. they'll get BIG thighs !
What's wrong with having muscle ? I am pretty fit. I have good muscle definition and I don't look like a man or a body builder. I'm proud of the muscle I now carry. So, it seems strange when I hear someone say they don't want muscle.
This happened to me last night. I was getting ready to teach class (Powerflex, a muscle conditioning class) when I asked if there was anyone new. A young woman held up her hand. So, I went over to tell her what she needed and what to expect from class. The first thing she said to me was,"I don't want to put on any muscle". Huh ?????? At first, I thought she must have mistaken my class for a step class because of the benches (steps). No, I told her it was a muscle conditioning class that she might enjoy.
I'll admit, I was shocked. She showed me the one pound weights she selected. I told her she could use those, but they wouldn't give her much of a challenge. As it was, I had to tell her firmly that she had to use a bar during class. I showed her how to set up the bar with weights and selected something light to start out. She seemed terrified at the prospect of doing something that would work her muscles.
I told her that she would not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if she took my class. I told her not to worry about the first class. Learn the form first and when you've learned form, then add weight. Have fun. don't worry. I didn't have time to start a lecture on why it's important for women to carry lean muscle. However, I really just couldn't believe that a healthy young woman didn't want to have any muscle.
I'm sure the reason she was at the gym was because she wanted to lose weight in spite of the fact that she was already at a very healthy weight. She was not overweight in the least. If anything, I probably would have recommend that instead of losing weight that increasing her lean muscle would be a better option.
So, I don't understand, why some women are afraid of having muscle. It really is perplexing. Once again, I didn't want to start a lecture on women not having enough testosterone to pack on muscle the way a man does. I didn't have time to tell her that having muscle would decrease her risk of osteoporosis.
Personally, I love having muscles ! I love being fit and strong. Why are some women afraid ? What scares them ? And this wasn't the first time this has happened to me. Another woman who takes my cycle class said exactly the same thing. She only uses light weights because she doesn't want to pack on muscle. This woman was older and very well educated. And yet, same thing, she doesn't do a lot of strength training because she doesn't want bulging muscles. So, I asked her the same question, do I look like a body builder ? no, she said. Do I lift heavy weights ? yes.
I did take the time to tell her all of the above. However, she still insists on doing more cardiovascular exercise than strength.
Some days, I just don't know what to tell women. How do I say it's great to have muscle ! ?