Ladies, this one’s for you!
Think about the fitness goals you have for yourself. Maybe you want to burn 5% body fat or, perhaps, you have always wanted a ‘pilates’ butt.
What would you say if I told you that you could achieve both by lifting HEAVY weights?
You may believe me on some level, but there is still that voice in your head saying, “that will ONLY make me bulky! Must. Stick. To. Cardio!”
It’s time to silence that voice because, ladies, it is entirely misleading. We have all fallen victim to this belief that lifting weights will essentially make you look like a female version of “The Rock”. Unless you are ingesting substances that significantly increase your testosterone levels (and yes, we do naturally have low levels of testosterone), you will never look like that.
In her article, Does Lifting Weights Make Women Bulk Up, Carrie Sloan shares the wisdom from a personal trainer and manager of Crunch Fitness in New York City, Rowdy Yates. According to Yates, lifting weights helps to burn calories more efficiently. Placing stress, or resistance, on muscles causes the muscle fibers to either increase in size or number. Building muscle, better known as hypertrophy, helps to increase the rate at which your body burns calories at rest (a.k.a metabolic rate). Given you are consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day, you will subsequently decrease body fat and gain more definition.
Keep in mind, we are all different shapes and sizes. Just as your genetics determine where you initially store and break down body fat, your genetics also determine the size of your muscles. Of course, you can train fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, but some people are born with more fast-twitch than slow-twitch muscle fibers and vice-versa. What this means is that you can do the exact same workout routine, use the same weights, and follow the same eating plan as your friend, Becky, and your muscle sizes will differ from one another in comparison.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way! You may grow your muscles in different proportions from Becky, but that does NOT mean there is still a possibility you will gain muscle uncontrollably and your veins will be popping out of your neck. Remember what I said about testosterone? You do not have nearly enough of it to generate that effect.
Let’s talk about cardio in regards to weight loss.
Cardiovascular activity is important to your overall heart health and the better your aerobic capacity, the less likely you are to develop CVD and other related health issues. Cardiovascular activity, such as walking, running, or cycling, burns more calories more directly than weight-lifting. However, if you are only focusing on cardio to help you reach your weight-loss goals, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. Yates explains that performing an overwhelming amount of cardio can keep you from gaining weight, but that is because you are also losing LEAN mass rather than fat. Once again, lifting weights is what helps your body burn more calories after your workout than spending even an hour on the treadmill.
In conclusion, ladies, you should not fear picking up heavier dumbbells due to the misconception that lifting weights will make you look masculine. On the contrary, lifting heavier will help you decrease body fat, give you the ‘tone’, or definition, you have been hoping for all these years, and in my own experience, make you feel like a female warrior!