Challenging Fitness Myths: Weightlifting Is for Men

During any casual visit to the gym, one might notice a general trend: men lift and women do cardio. Men dominate the weight room while women occupy the majority of the treadmills and elliptical machines. One can’t help but wonder why?

Popular women’s magazines often focus on the new hot tip to lose weight, to get in shape or tone up while men’s magazines discuss ways to build muscle and stay lean. These myths perpetuate the fear of edging outside one’s perceived gender. If a woman lifts, she may be concerned that she will develop a masculine physique. Likewise, some men will presume that cardio will whittle them away into thinness. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

For years instead of working towards the goal of overall well-being, health and bodily functionality, our fitness goals have revolved around aesthetics and superficial appeal. Rather than being wholesome, we become fixated on how we want others to compare our physical appearance to the constructed norm.

Erroneous assumptions about what type of exercise is suitable for gender also shapes common beliefs about what we should eat. Men should drink a protein shake immediately after completion of “the 20 best chest workouts,” followed by eating chicken, or five boiled eggs right after lifting. But the reality is that you can be vegan and restore all the fuel you need post workout through a plant-based diet.

Fortunately, there’s a group of physically active men bucking the trend. We don’t hear much about them because their approach “is not as sexy.” Instead, they have a more balanced, holistic approach to wellness.

As a personal trainer and weight management specialist, over the course of more than a decade I have witnessed first-hand a shift in the mindset of male clients towards a more sustainable way of living. They no longer seem interested in a two hour “leg day” on one day, and then an intensive “lats day” the next, followed by gobbling down five Big Macs. Their goal isn’t to have the perfect “gym body,” but instead they want a fit, healthy body. This mind-set is a game changer—it’s the key ingredient to realistically achieving longevity. So let us continue to work towards making an holistic approach to overall well being for men as the new cool, fun thing.