Strength has always been one of my deepest core values that I strive to live in line with every day, and to me, vulnerability is strength at its best. Having the strength and courage to allow myself to dig deep and take risks, even when they feel close to insurmountable, is the foundation of living my most passionate, wholehearted life.
There are no shortages of misconceptions in the fitness industry, especially in regards to women’s fitness. We’ve been conditioned to believe in overly restrictive diets, hours of fruitless cardio, messages of “tone your trouble zones” and other fallacies that do nothing but make us feel miserable and defeated.
I’m going to help bust some common women’s fitness myths so that you can start to use fitness to become the best version of yourself and get the results you deserve.
Myth: Running is the Most Effective Way to Get in Shape
Women have been taught to believe that cardio is the answer and that they should avoid lifting heavy weights. In actuality, prioritizing strength training is an absolute must for any woman who wishes to sustain a fit physique, transform her body, and enjoy the highest quality of life – at any age.
Lifting weights provides the most bang for your buck, allowing you get strong and lose fat simultaneously, in minimal time, and cultivate a healthy metabolism. Not to mention, strength training is fun and empowering, increasing your long-term workout motivation.
Myth: If you’re not sore after your workout, you didn’t work hard enough
Many women are misled to feel that if they aren’t plastered to the floor in a heap of exhaustion or unable to walk, their workout was a waste. Always chasing fatigue and soreness is not only risky for injuries and other health consequences, but it can actually stall your progress and quash your long-term motivation. Who really wants to feel exhausted all the time?
View exercise as a means to become more able, powerful and bold – rather than a tactic to wage war against your body. A good workout is one in which you leave feeling more invigorated than when you started, and you are walking out of the gym feeling like you could run the world. You will get stronger, look better, and make substantial progress in the absence of extreme soreness and exhaustion. I save my fist pumps for when my clients feel strong, not when they suffer!
Myth: Crunches will flatten your abs
One of the biggest myths in women’s fitness is the belief that you can crunch your way to a flatter stomach and a stronger core. Unfortunately, we cannot “spot reduce” areas – meaning, we can’t do 100 crunches every day and expect our middle to whittle and tone.
Tightening up your mid-section comes down to prioritizing your nutrition, optimizing your hormones with adequate sleep and stress management, and following an intelligent training program that takes into account how your body moves as a whole.
Myth: You have to be perfect
So many women are burdened by the pursuit of perfection and feel that if they can’t do everything 100% perfectly all the time, then why even bother? Perfection itself is a myth – it doesn’t exist - therefore, striving for perfection can really hamper success, cause a lot of discouragement, and paralyze us from progressing forward.
Slip ups, missed or less-than-fabulous workouts and perceived failures WILL happen, and that’s okay. Letting go of the “all or nothing” mindset makes room for authentic self-improvement and allows you to be malleable with the ups and downs of life instead of “falling off the wagon”. Show up. Embrace slip ups. Commit to giving your utmost effort on any given day, whatever that is.
Myth: Self-loathing is a good motivator
After working with so many women, I’ve noticed that their incentive for going to the gym can come from an unhealthy place: negative feelings towards their bodies, self-loathing, and even shame. When we attempt to "hate" our bodies into change, the journey becomes an unsustainable, miserable struggle. Negative motivation lacks true purpose, which is why many women fail to reach their goals or find themselves on diet roller coasters.
You can’t become your best self if you’re constantly tearing yourself down. If you focus on your strengths (instead of your perceived flaws) and appreciate your body for what it can do (rather than how it looks), your transformation will be rooted in wanting the best for yourself. Work towards becoming the greatest caretaker of your body, and your journey will become not only more compassionate, but fruitful and tenable.
Always remember, working out, eating well, and building the body you want should enrich your life and make you healthier and happier. If you have questions about these myths and how they’re effecting you, don't hesitate to reach out. You can leave a comment below or contact me via the website listed in the bio below.
Ericka Hurst is a automotive machinist turned gym owner who believes true strength is a combination of mental acuity and physical prowess. Through an accountability-driven system of motivational workouts and #girlpower mantras, she helps women unleash their full potential to be positive, empowered, and—most importantly—strong. Connect with her through Instagram or at her website: HurstStrength.com.