Toss the pink dumbbells and start moving some serious weight. Lifting heavy is the key to building metabolism-revving muscle, leaning out, and looking and feeling stronger than ever before, says certified strength and conditioning specialist Holly Perkins, author of Lift to get lean and founder of Women’s strength nation. These body transformations will make you ditch your fear of “bulking up” once and for all.
1. Lifting weights will make you bulk up…
I know we’ve all had that friend that started lifting weights & a month or two into it stop because they said they were getting to bulky, but more than likely it’s a combination of fluid retention, inflammation and plain old “feeling ‘swole”. Even if you lift enough to put on some weight, many women [and men] prefer the change in body composition.
So what happens when you pick up heavy things, your muscles get STRONGER (but not necessarily bigger).
If you pick up heavy things, and eat a caloric deficit (and eat the right kinds of food – actual healthy foods), your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will get that “toned” look that you’re after.
Here’s how it works: Picking up light weights for 20+ repetitions build muscular endurance; it does not build tight, dense, strong muscle.
So, want to look damn good AND be strong? Pick up heavy things. And continually force yourself to pick up heavier and heavier things as you get stronger.
2. You need to do tons of cardio to lose weight.
I’m a big fan of “do what makes you happy.” If you happen to enjoy running, step aerobics or jazzercise, that great nobody said you had to stop. However, if you are ONLY doing those things to lose weight and you’re not seeing results, stop. There’s a better way.
Believe it or not, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio.
Let’s say you are determined to perform 4 treadmill sessions per week at 30 minutes per session. This equates to about 600 calories burned per week.
Over the course of a year’s time, you will have burned off a total of 30,000 calories (allowing for a few missed workouts). How much fat did this burn off? What was the reward for your hard work?
You lost 8.5 pounds of fat. You lost 8.5 pounds of fat as a result of your 100 hours of treadmill time.
When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect). What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout. In addition, a study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, but all the weight lost by the weight lifters was primarily fat while the cardio queens lost a lot of muscle along with some fat. And more muscle, less fat translated to smaller clothing sizes than their less muscular
3. Men and women should train differently
How many times have you gone into a gym and saw competent trainers are having their male clients go through intense strength training routines with squats, and deadlifts, and overhead presses, and pushups, and pull ups, and lunges.
In those same gyms, other trainers are putting their female clients through light weight dumbbell circuits, and stability ball squats for high repetitions, and having them do tricep kickbacks, machine bench presses and more.
There’s no reason that men and women can’t complete the same types of exercises. While a guy can lift a certain way to get bigger, a woman can lift in the same way, but instead build that dense, tight, and lean look (“toned” ugh) that most are aiming for.
Men often want to be jacked and gain size, and many women want to be toned and shapely. The thing is, you can’t tone or have shape if there’s nothing to tone or shape, basically you can’t carve a turkey without the turkey.
Thanks to hormones, estrogen, testosterone, genetic, and dietary differences, those two people will end up with drastically different results.
4. You’ll Burn More Calories doing cardio
You may burn more calories during your 1-hour cardio class than you would lifting weights for an hour, but a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended. In addition, the more muscle you have the more you’ll burn daily in General for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day,”
And the effect is magnified when you increase the weight, as explained in a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Women who lifted more weight for fewer reps (85 percent of their max load for 8 reps) burned nearly twice as many calories during the two hours after their workout than when they did more reps with a lighter weight (45 percent of their max load for 15 reps)
So if you have a little black dress your trying to fit into, load up the weight.
5. Weightlifting is bad for your joints & bones.
Achy hips and sore knees don’t have to be a staple of your morning run. Strengthening the muscles surrounding and supporting your joints can help prevent injuries by helping you maintain good form, as well as strengthening joint integrity. Lifting weights increases bone density thus reducing your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
One of the top reasons women should lift weights is because women are more prone to bone and joint issues as they age. “The muscle tells the bone where to go, not the other way around,” Thurman says. “As you increase your muscle strength, you’ll improve your posture and support your joints.”
You can look forward to stronger joints when you lift heavier weights. Stronger joints mean better balance and fewer injuries.