woman lifting free weightsDid you vow that 2014 would be the year you’d sculpt your arms and abs to be perfectly toned—at long last? Have you convinced yourself that if only you had a personal trainer you could learn how to use the chest press or dumbbells the correct way, and achieve that lean body shape instead of a bulky one?  

So, what are you waiting for? With this myth vs. fact guide we’ve laid out for you, you’ll be groaning, sweating and lifting with confidence in the weight room in no time—and with a body that will turn heads and break some serious hearts!

Is the Weight Room Only For Men and Female Body Builders?

No matter what you’ve heard, if you’re not incorporating a strength training program into your weekly workouts, then chances are you aren’t seeing the results you’re striving for. That’s because strength training drastically assists your weight loss and toning efforts much more than cardio alone.

Take a look around at your TRX or Body Pump aerobics class, and you’ll quickly see that your average strength training class is filled with individuals of all shapes and sizes—and that a bulky woman is more of the exception rather than the rule when it comes to strength training. You don’t get bulky by lifting weights. You get bulky by lifting weights in addition to adding muscle powder to each meal.

The truth is, if you want to get bulky, you’d have to consult a personal trainer who is a pro at designing training programs to help you bulk up. If you want to lose weight (but improve muscle tone), or simply become the healthiest you’ve ever been, start with eating a clean diet—which will be responsible for about 80 percent of weight loss. Don’t be afraid to hit the weights—it will allow you to become a lean, fighting machine in both mind and body!

I Don’t Need to Lift Weights Because I Want to Lose Weight (Not Gain Muscle)

This myth is perhaps the biggest myth of all, and especially for women. If you’re already thin or you’re satisfied with the way you look, you may tend to ditch the strength training workouts altogether because you think you don’t need it. Why sweat to death when you don’t have to? However, strength training goes beyond building muscle to look good in your skinny jeans or pencil skirt—it has been shown to fight diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. Short but high intensity circuit training (moving from one exercise to the next with short bouts of rest in between) allows you to boost your metabolism and increase your activity. The end result? A powerful workout for the powerhouse body you’re aiming for!

An Easy Weight to Start With: If being in the weight room is an intimating feat for you, start small. Walk past the chest press and head for the 3 lb. dumbbells instead. Make sure that your back is straight, and your shoulders are curled back. Lift the dumbbells and curl slowly and in a controlled manner. Do twenty reps, and teach yourself about the “scarier” weight machines until your curiosity becomes the dominant emotion!

Incorporate weight lifting into your weekly workout sessions, and you may discover that aside from a toned body, you’ll also have a great outlet for releasing the stress and aggression of your day! Take your pick from a variety of body resistant classes and exercises at your local gym and give it a go—yoga, TRX, BodyPump or free weights. It’s your call, but whatever your choose will without a doubt put you in the best shape of your life.