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Fat Loss

Fat Loss Myths for Women

By Joe Talarico on Apr 22, 2024 9:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time

Thanks to marketing in the health and wellness space, there have been many myths perpetuated by marketing companies to try and sell their product as the solution for women across the world. They needed a way to differentiate themselves from what the men were doing to seem like it was a more “feminine” option. I’m going to go over some of those myths today.

Lifting = Bulkiness

The most common myth out there is that lifting and putting on muscle equates to looking bulky. Combine that with the fact that when you start lifting, you may see the scale go. Many women think they’re just getting puffy, but this simply is not true. What’s actually happening is that you’re putting on muscle. If you’re not in a caloric deficit, and you still have some excess body fat that you haven’t gotten rid of yet, this can give the APPEARANCE that you got bulky. The solution for this is going on a cut. If you go on a cut and shed some fat to where the muscle will show more, you will in fact see more of that beach body “toned” look that you seek.

That’s what being toned is. It’s not just getting skinny. You can’t show nice physique lines without having the appropriate amount of muscle underneath to showcase it. Lifting also increases your metabolism and better sets you up for fat loss.

Training Differently Than Men

There is another belief that women have to lift differently than men do. Women shouldn’t do heavy squats and deadlifts. Women should focus on higher reps because it burns more fat. None of this is true. First, muscle growth occurs anywhere from 5-30 repetitions. They all grow muscle. It’s more a matter of the higher the reps, the closer to failure you need to train. It’s a muscle stimulus variable, not a fat-burning issue.

As far as exercises go, you want whatever helps you build muscle (for all the reasons mentioned earlier). The example I used to use was Miss New York’s response when was asked what she did to get her body ready for pageants. Now, I would imagine she had a physique any woman would love to have. She told the reporter she did heavy squats, deadlifts, and presses. So here you have a woman who looks fantastic, and is beach body-ready. She does all the lifts that guys do. It’s not that big lifts make you big. A big compound lift, like a squat or deadlift, just means more muscles are recruited. Rather than having to do back, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, for example, you can just do a deadlift, as it’ll stimulate all those muscles.

Cardio is Better for Losing Weight

In terms of how many calories are burned in the same time frame, yes. Cardio burns more calories than lifting. We need to look at the bigger picture, though. While it burns more calories, it doesn’t send a strong enough muscle building signal. Because of this, while in a deficit, the body will burn muscle over fat if too much cardio is done. On top of that, your body adapts to cardio over time. Meaning you will burn LESS calories the more cardio you do. Your body is efficient and wants to expend the least amount of energy to accomplish a task. Muscle is also calorically expensive to hold onto, so if anything, your body will prefer burning muscle over fat, leaving you to become just a skinny fat version of yourself, rather than toned.

Women Should Avoid a Calorie Surplus

When we think of fat loss, we assume we always need to go into a deficit. While that’s mostly true, if you are NEW to lifting, you can actually get away with eating at maintenance, if not in a surplus. Your body is primed for muscle growth, and the stimulus is so fresh and new that you can actually bump your calories up to maintenance (possibly more) and STILL see the weight either go down or remain the same. This is ideal as it means you are putting on muscle while burning fat at the same time.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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