Female Strength Training Myths Busted: Ladies, Strength Training Won’t Make You Bulky
For many years women were afraid of weightlifting because they believed they would get “big and bulky”. I would like to set the record straight as I still hear female clients say “I don’t want to get bulky, I just want to tone.” Well my friends, pick up those weights if you would like that sexy, lean physique- or even if you would like to add some curves!
While I will always encourage my clients to love their bodies, I also encourage a strong, healthy body- inside and out. At some point in our 30’s we begin to lose muscle mass, even if we remain active. The amount we lose can, in some part, be determined by how active we remain.
We all know that cardio exercise is great for our hearts and helps to keep our blood pressure in check. But for a well rounded fitness program, we also need resistance training. Lifting weights can help you “build the strength of your muscles and connective tissues, increase bone density, cut your risk of injury, and help ease arthritis pain.” Adding more muscle mass can also help boost your metabolism, which also declines with age. This means you will be burning more calories at rest. A more efficient metabolism can help you achieve the shape you desire.
So, with all these benefits that we find in the free weights section of the gym, why do we still see more women over on the treadmills and ellipticals, trying to annihilate every calorie they have eaten that day on their already low calorie restricted diets? It is because for decades women have believed this method was the key to successful weight loss. But this is part of the misconception- we need to be more concerned about fat loss than the number on the scale. And the key to achieving fat loss is weightlifting!
Let me lay your fears to rest- lifting weights will not make women big and bulky- unless it is a personal goal of yours and you train in such a way to do so. By nature, women do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to add bulk like a man can. Women body builders work extremely hard to achieve the physique they desire, through proper diets, rigorous workout schedules, and oftentimes supplementation. The average woman following a well-balanced, clean diet and adding 3 strength training workouts per week to her overall fitness plan will not achieve those kind of results. However, if you want to get “toned”, you will need to lift. And you will need to lift heavy (please work with a trained professional to determine the most effective and safest workout for you).
So you decide to give weightlifting a try- where do you begin? My first suggestion is to hire a trained professional to customize a workout for your specific goals and your specific level. Oftentimes people will read an article, or workout with a buddy who has been lifting for a while and think they are on the right track. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. My workout may not be a good workout for you. Your weaknesses and strengths may be different from mine. I may be recovering from an injury you don’t have. My goals may be different from yours. There are many variables. A professional can create a specific program for you and coach you to your specific goals.
What can you expect after getting started? Expect some soreness. Because you are challenging your muscles in a new way, you may experience DOMS- or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is normal, and it does go away. You can also expect a possible increase in weight- however, you will experience a decrease in fat, which you will notice as your clothes become looser fitting. Some experience a slight increase in appetite, this is normal as well. When you weight train, your muscles tear on a microscopic level and then repair to become stronger- this takes energy, so your nutritional needs will change to accommodate. Again, working with a professional trainer or health coach can be beneficial in knowing what to eat, how much, and how often. Don’t forget, that weight training boosts your metabolism, so you will be burning more calories, so you will be hungrier and able to eat more food without it going to your hips.
So hopefully I have helped debunk the misconception some women have that they will get “bulky” lifting weights. There are so many benefits to be gained from strength training. So ladies, keep your treadmill and elliptical workouts for days you need a good emotional release, and dont be afraid to “get ugly” on the other side of the gym with the big boys!
By Fitmo Coach Carol Keller.
About Carol Keller: Do you look in the mirror and say “Who Am I?” Do you want to feel younger, confident, & have more energy? As a woman over 40, Carol understands the struggles that woman her age go through. Carol has been a diet and exercise coach for over 10 years and she wants you help you get YOUR sexy back & put that confidence back in your strut!