In my experience, I’ve ran into a fair bit of resistance from women about resistance training. The infamous concern of getting big and bulky, along with the perception that having muscles is unattractive, isn’t always the easiest barrier for a coach or trainer to break through. I want to quickly help clear the air on why women who don’t lift for such reasons, may want to consider being more open to lifting weights. With athletes I’ve found this to be slightly less of a challenge, although there is still some convincing and trust involved as it relates to strength training improving their performance. This article is for ladies who are on the fence about it or haven’t been made aware of the benefits. I’ll cover the idea of bulking, benefits of weight lifting, and some basics on what to do.
Looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, nahh
So, I’m just going to throw this out there, for the vast majority of women, lifting weights will not make you look like The Terminator. Due to hormone levels, it’s almost certain that the testosterone count is far too low for large amounts of muscle gain. There certainly can be muscle gain, but most often it will be in the lower body. It would take years of hardcore training for a lady’s arms to get bigger than mine, which certainly aren’t the biggest pair. I should do more curls, but for now I’ll take that L.
Speaking of, the body builder ladies who actually are super ripped, train and eat very specifically to be ripped because that’s their sport. You really do not need to lift weights every day. 2-3x week is perfectly fine, especially if you are following a full body, movement focused training plan, which is rather different from a body building program, which has become synonymous with fitness. Focusing on pushing, pulling, squatting, rotating, and resisting rotation is all that’s essentially needed.
Toning. What is toning? Honestly, toning is really just gaining muscle. It often afterwards comes with a decrease it fat storage as well.
There are a number of health and confidence benefits to strength training. Let’s talk about 3 reasons you should hit the steel!
- Intense training causes a lot of calorie usage once you finish exercising
Hard weight training can be very anaerobically demanding. 30minutes of a tough workout can use up more calories than hours of cardio in a day’s period. This is because anaerobic training (training that doesn’t largely rely on oxygen going to the muscle, while you’re doing it) has what some call an afterburn effect. In the physiology world, we call it excess post exercise oxygen consumption, or oxygen debt. I graduate in a few weeks so I need to sound like I learned something right?
This is largely why you are out of breath after you go for a sprint to class or dart up the stairs to get somewhere (unfortunately this happens to me when I walk up the stairs). After a hard workout where you use a lot of the anaerobic system (think, not cardio) to use up your energy, the body goes to use fat metabolism to refuel your muscles and liver with energy, if you used up a lot of carbs. This effect happens for most of the day, decreasing in intensity as the hours pass. Cardio doesn’t have much of this effect. Muscle recovering from training is very active as the clearing and rebuilding process takes energy to do.
That said it is still healthy to eat something after you workout, especially protein. You tore yourself down, now you have to build back up.
- You can be toned and not bulky (unless you want to)
Weight training obviously can lead to gains in muscle mass. As previously mentioned, women typically don’t have the testosterone to gain muscle to the extent that men do. The notion of toning is literally gaining muscle. Doing cardio can help stir up fat loss if you do your diet right, but if you already don’t have muscles, you may not look very “tone”. Obtaining some muscle and then losing some fat will help your muscles show out more. The calories you can use in an hour of hard weight training can outnumber the calories used doing an hour of cardio, if the intensity or volume is high enough.
- You get to be strong as hell! And most muscle gain often goes to the lower body and back!
I’m not sure what I need to say to justify such. Being strong typically feels great. On the Quidditch team I just finished coaching (made it to Cup play offs but didn’t win it all), many girls had their first stints at weight lifting or had very little experience prior. Many of them had gotten very strong and were proud of their squats. In just the spring semester one lady went from squatting just over 120lbs for 5 reps to finishing at 175lbs for a conservative single repetition. Another who only weighs almost 100lbs, got her squat from 55lbs for 5 reps up to a good looking 95lbs 1 rep max. Others have similar stories, and this was from only having one really heavy session a week!
Resistance training helps keep muscle mass on your body as you get older helping keep you from being frail and better supports your joints to decrease risk of injury from the things life throws at us.
Okay, so now what?
If you aren’t much of a weight lifter but now you’re enticed and don’t exactly know where to start, keep reading. Where to start depends on your body and experience. Simply put here’s an outline of what to cover:
5-10 repetitions for only 3-5 rounds. I would not recommend you go less than 5 reps if you don’t have experience. Whatever rep range you do, your weight should take you to near full exhaustion every round (as in you could barely do 1-2 more).
- Upper body Pushing and pulling exercises
- A core stability exercise such as a Palof Press video attached
- A rotational core exercise
- Isolated work for the shoulder
- Side lunge variations
Notice these are all compound movements. The benefit of doing a free weight bent over row are more than doing a curl machine, in most cases. You may not get it all in one session, but it definitely should all be cover at least once a week.
I hope this helped get the point across on the benefits of strength training! If you are interested in learning more about how you get can strong as hell, leave a comment or contact me!