CrossFit 816

Women, CrossFit, and Myths part 1

XFIT2

As I was pondering what to write for today’s post I noticed an article posted to FaceBook by D-Pain (aka Dana). It is titled” “LIES IN THE GYM”. It shows us that one does not have to go far in the average gym (obviously not a CrossFit Gym) to find someone willing to hand out bad information. This article outlines many of the myths that women are hearing about fitness and strength training.

Let me summarize several of the myths this article touches on.

  1. Weight training will make you huge and masculine.
  2. Men Train. Women Tone.
  3. There is a difference between toning, sculpting and firming.
  4. Women should stick to machines and stay away from free weights.
  5. Women shouldn’t work on their leg and butt muscles, otherwise they’ll get to big.
  6. Weight Training Turns Fat into Muscle
  7. Women should only lift light weights to not get “bulky”

To quote a famous fitness author, “Women are not a special population. They are half the population. ” In an article written by Mark Rippetoe he points out that Women DO respond to heavy physical stress (i.e. lifting heavy shit) differently than men. However, women get the best results when they train for performance (the whole premise of CrossFit and what we do), because even though there are differences between men’s and women’s response to training, there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes our bodies to change. The different responses men and women see in training are not the ones that the industry, media and popular culture have presented as fact. This unfortunately has had a detrimental effect on women’s training.

The answer to our questions on how to get there are right in front of us. The results, in terms of both performance and aesthetics, admired by the vast majority of women, continue to be routinely produced by advanced athletic programs. Which then amazes me how “body-sculpting sessions or low intensity machine based circuit programs were the approach sold to the public. But then again, “easier” is easier to sell.

The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance. It becomes very simple, if you want to look like a lean athlete (the standard most active women strive to emulate) you have to train like an athlete, and the unfortunate part is that most people lack the “sand” for that. Despite this unfortunate truth (most truths seem to fall into this category), the fitness industry continues to see appearances first, as though it is independent of performance. Appearance cannot be trained for. Think about it: I know how to make your squat stronger, but how do you program Bun Blaster sets and reps for a tight ass?   I may be able to double your pull-ups in a month, but I don’t know how to give your back that V-Shape everyone craves without increasing your pull-ups. Every single aspect of programming for resistance training that works at all does so because it increases some aspect of performance, and appearance is a side effect of performance.

misty-may-treanor-and-kerri-walsh-65656556692

Appearance is a side effect of performance.

Appearance can’t change unless performance does, and the performance changes are what we quantify and what we program. Your appearance when fit is almost entirely a function of your genetics, which are expressed at their best only when your training is at it’s highest level, and this level is only obtainable from a program based on an improvement in your performance in the gym. To top it off the best improvements in the gym occur when participating in a program that looks more like performance athletics (i.e. CrossFit) that one that looks like waving your arms or legs around on a machine.

More Unfortunate Truths:

  • Your muscles cannot get longer without some rather radical orthopedic surgery.
  • Muscles don’t get leaner ….. you do!
  • There is no such thing as “firming & toning”.  There is only stronger and weaker.
  • The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from weight training.  If it were that easy, I would have them!
  • Women who do look like men have taken some rather drastic steps in that direction that have little to do with their exercise program.
  • Women who claim to be afraid to train hard because they “always bulk up too much” are often already pretty bulky, or “skinny fat” (thin but weak and de-conditioned) and have found another excise to continue life sitting on their butts.
  • Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.
  • You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to see reasons to avoid hard physical exertion.

from CrossFit Oakland - thank you!  This is fabulous.