You can plug away on the treadmill for hours every week and never touch a dumbbell and yes, you can get smaller and lose some weight, but that lean, toned look is achieved by hitting the weights. In order to look toned you have to lose the body fat that is covering your current muscle. If you don’t have a lot of muscle on your body to begin with, you have to start building it by strength training.
Strength training will increase your muscle mass, increase your metabolic rate- meaning you burn more calories throughout the day even when you’re resting, can reduce your risk of injury, aches and pains, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression. Why would you NOT want to lift?! Maybe you’re scared you’ll bulk up and gain weight, you’ll get injured or you just want to spot reduce some trouble areas so might not think you don’t need an entire strength training routine. If you’ve had or currently have these kind of thoughts, keep reading and let’s see if I can change your mind!
Myth #1: If you start lifting heavy weights you’ll turn into the She Hulk
Let’s tackle this one first because it’s my favorite 🙂 . This just won’t happen. Plain and simple. Women simply do not have the correct hormonal makeup, specifically we don’t produce enough testosterone, to bulk up easily. Can it happen? Sure. However! It takes years of a strict eating schedule focusing on just the right foods and correct portions, an exercise program aimed toward building muscle, supplements and sometimes (usually)steroids to achieve that big, bulky look that so many women fear.
Learning how to deadlift and bench press won’t turn you into a bulked up beast! Personally, I’ve been strength training seriously for over 5 years now. I deadlift, squat, bench press, etc., 4-5 times per week and I’m nowhere near looking bulky. If anything I wish I could gain more muscle faster!
So basically, you’d have to pump yourself up with testosterone and supplements, eat way more calories than you’re burning and follow a strict muscle building program in order to get bulky. On the flip side, if you start strength training and work your way up to heavy weight, which is relative to the person, and eat the right kinds of foods (lean proteins, veggies, fruit, whole grains), you’ll simply, and awesomely, get stronger. In turn, you’ll start burning body fat and you’ll achieve that toned look that so many women are after.
Myth #2: If you starting lifting you’ll end up injured
Lifting heavy weights is not dangerous, as long as you are lifting an appropriate weight for your strength levels and you use proper form. If you’re new to strength training, you should seek out a professional who has the knowledge and expertise to take you from novice to experienced, safely. If you’re on your own, that’s ok too! A good starting point if you’re just beginning is using a weight that you can lift 12-15 times with good form, with the last few reps being a little more difficult than the rest. Once that weight gets easier, up the weights!
Once you’re ready to progress, try adding just five pounds at a time to your lifts. I teach an 8-week women’s weight lifting class at the gym and by the end of the series the ladies are SO amped to add more and more weight onto the bar. As happy as this makes me, I also have to remind the ladies that safety is priority so we need to ease into the heavier weights. Adding just a little bit at a time will help make sure you’re keeping proper form and that you can handle the load. Always be mindful of keeping safety first and if something doesn’t feel right or good, don’t do it.
Lastly, regular total body strength training can actually help you prevent injury not only in the gym, but in your everyday activities. Have you ever moved a piece of furniture in your house and hurt your back? Or maybe you’ve bent down to pick up your kid and felt a little pop in the back of your leg? Regular strength training can help ensure you’re using proper lifting techniques and will keep your entire body strong and safe throughout your day to day activities.
Myth #3: You can spot reduce your trouble zones like your triceps, abs and thighs
When women come to me and say “I really want to lose my bat wings and my stomach needs to be smaller” what they might not understand is that we can’t just make body fat disappear in selected areas- although that would be nice, wouldn’t it? Ladies, you simply cannot spot reduce fat. All the triceps extensions and crunches in the world won’t get you tighter arms and a six pack. Fat will come off in the way your genes tell it to. It might come off of your arms first, or your legs, or your breasts (a sad reality for many of us!) but even the best trainers in the world can’t specifically target and spot reduce your selected trouble areas.
If you have some areas that you’d like to tighten up your best bet is to take a total body approach. This includes a total body strength training program and eating better. You can certainly strengthen and build muscle in specific spots but you’ll have to lose fat overall to get a tighter, toned look. The best way to go about reaching that goal is through watching what you eat. Your nutrition plays the biggest part in how your body looks. Strength training will shape your body, but your nutrition (and genetics) will determine your weight, size and body fat.
So, are you ready to hit the weights? Curious? Saying “All that sounds great but where the heck do I start?”
I’ve got your back.
My 5-day LIVE educational series is aimed at getting you totally comfortable and acclimated to the weight room. STRENGTH SCHOOL: Become a weight room warrior, is going to give you every single thing you need to get over your fears and get lifting- Yes- in the weight room.
Check out more info about STRENGTH SCHOOL HERE.
We start on Monday, October 9!