We live in a funny world where women have been scared to lift weights in fear of plumping up like a juiced up bodybuilder. Hopefully, in this article, I can alleviate some of those concerns for you and help you understand that strength training is the single most important exercise you should be doing.
In fact, it’s far more important than doing hours and hours of cardio each week only to be left wondering why, after working so hard, you aren’t seeing changes you’d hoped for.
The truth is, women MUST lift weights! No woman should fear getting bulky or looking masculine and this is why.
I think most people associate the hormone estrogen with women and the hormone testosterone with men. The truth is, men and women produce both of these hormones only in different amounts. Generally speaking, women produce more estrogen than testosterone and men produce more testosterone than estrogen.
This is important because testosterone is an anabolic hormone which means it helps build things in the body. One of the things testosterone helps “build” is muscle mass. Women simply don’t produce enough testosterone to gain muscle like a man.
Cleaning Up The Metabolic Mess
Your metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns while at rest. In other words, it is the amount of calories your body would need to keep you alive if all you did was lie in bed 24 hours a day.
Whether you want a flat belly, defined arms, or buns of steel, increasing your metabolic rate is critical for achieving your fitness goals. Increasing your metabolic rate means you will burn more calories while you sleep, while you eat, while you drive, while you exercise, well… while you do everything!
One of the only ways you can increase your metabolic rate is to increase your muscle mass with lifting weights. Muscle mass is highly metabolic which means it takes more energy (calories) to keep it alive than other tissues.
Increasing your muscle mass will force your body to burn more calories 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Increasing your muscle mass will also make your body look lean and toned.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, here is a little science for you.
A study published in 2006 by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that the participants who did resistance training in addition to cardiovascular exercise lost more fat than the participants who did cardiovascular training alone.
Avoid This Rookie Strength Training Mistake
Another thing I have heard women say is, “I lift weights but I only lift light weights because I don’t want to bulk up.” This way of thinking is all wrong!
When I say lifting weights, I do not mean two pound dumbbells. When I say “Women should lift weights” I mean they should lift heavy weights.
Muscles need an adequate amount of stress and strain placed on them in order to change. If you want to see results you have to lift weights that are heavy enough to cause micro tears in your muscle fibers. When the body heals these micro tears the rejuvenated muscle comes back leaner and stronger.
If you can easily lift a weight 20 or 30 times without breaking a sweat the weight is not heavy enough to produce these micro tears. No micro tears means no results.
How Heavy Is Heavy?
So you might be wondering, “How am I supposed to know if a weight is heavy enough?” That’s simple. When lifting weights you should choose a weight you can do six to ten repetitions with good form and technique.
Now when I say between six to ten repetitions I don’t mean you can choose to stop at anyone one of those numbers. When I say choose a weight you can do six to ten repetitions with I mean you should stop when you can no longer perform another repetition with good form and technique.
It might take you a couple of tries to figure out your perfect weight but trust me, it will be worth it.
The Bottom Line
Ladies, the bottom line is, weight lifting will not make you big and bulky! The only thing weight lifting will do is give you the flat belly, defined arms, and toned buns you want.
I give you my word, if you train in this way you will not turn into a huge bulky person, instead you will become lean and strong.