Today, we have an article by new RUFP coach/trainer Brittney Wilinski. Take it away Brit!
To all the ladies out there…
How many of you have picked up a Shape magazine just to look at the workouts that will “Sculpt your butt with these great moves!” or “Tone your arms in 3 weeks!” If I know many women, almost all of us have fallen for the great “Shape workouts” because we are too intimidated to go into a weight room filled with guys lifting heavy weights, or we have this perception that if we lift more than 15 pounds we are going to get big and ‘bulky’.
News for you ladies…. throw your magazines out and hit the weight room. While you’re there, throw weight around and be proud of it! I’ve been training for over two years now and since then I have not become the hulk (mind you I like to squat darn near 185-200 pounds). I feel that I am a walking spokes model for women who strength train because ever since I started I have only gained muscle and lost body fat and couldn’t feel any better! So today I want to educate you about why you should lift some weight (I’m not talking about those 5 pounders) and show the boys up in the gym!
So you won’t lift heavy weights because you think you’ll get big and bulky…
Men can get a lot more muscular for a reason: testosterone! The beauty of being a woman is that we have much less testosterone than men. According to the study by Kraemer and Ratamess, “Hormonal Responses and Adaptations to Resistance Exercise and Training” in the Sports Medicine journal, we only have about 5% of the testosterone that men do – that means men have about twenty times as much testosterone as us. If a woman wanted to get larger and bulkier she would have to take anabolic drugs.
Another physiological difference between men and women is the difference in muscle fibers. We have fewer and smaller muscle fibers compared to males. According to the book, Science and Practice of Strength Training, women only have about 25-55% of the average upper body strength and about 70-75% of the average lower body strength compared to males. Therefore, if you think you’ll get jacked up arms from benching, rowing, or other upper body exercises…think again! Many of us girls could use some more upper body strength based off of these averages.
We can lift like the boys; maybe not as much weight, but just as hard and intense! Our bodies need to be challenged in order to create a stimulus large enough to cause adaptations in our bones, muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. This could mean eventually getting ourselves to do fewer reps with maximal weight instead of always doing 10-15 reps with lighter weight. If we don’t make our bodies adapt to a stimulus, then we won’t see the results we are looking for. Therefore, doing only high repetition exercises with 3 pound dumbbells will not accomplish this.
Why do some girls gain weight once they start to lift?
Lean muscle tissue has weight too! While the number on the scale may go up initially or stay the same, check out your body fat percentage and see how it drops. Building more lean muscle while weight training will actually help to burn more calories and fat once your workout is over compared to sitting on a treadmill for 2 hours. This is because your metabolic rate increases when you build more muscle, which then decreases the amount of body fat. When it comes down to it, we want to lose body fat, not just weight.
On the other hand, some women may gain more weight and increase their body size due to poor eating habits. Many people have this misunderstanding that just because they worked out and lifted now they can go have a whole pint of ice cream or a huge plate of pasta and breadsticks afterwards and be fine.
On the other end of the spectrum, some women decide to starve themselves. By doing this your metabolism slows down and your body basically holds on to fat stores as a protective mechanism. Hate to burst anyone’s bubble but these options are definitely not the way to go! As you start training you want to make sure you train hard at the gym and eat like a champ in the kitchen. What I mean is fuel your body with wholesome nutritious foods and cut out the sugary, processed, greasy, and deep-fried foods! Get some lean protein sources, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates into your diet and you will be off to a good start.
Sounds like a lot to change hey? I know I know, so start off trying to take out one to two unhealthy things from your diet and replace them with some other healthy food options. It’s simple and you’ll be off to a great start towards that new you.
Lifting weights is dangerous and can cause more injuries than machines…
Well, I won’t lie; any exercise can be dangerous without the proper training and technique. But if you take the time to learn exercises correctly, seek help for proper training, and follow a good program that is fit just for you, then you will be set to go. Weight lifting can actually help decrease your rate of injury by increasing bone strength (which decreases the risk of osteoporosis) and making connective tissue stronger which will increase your joint stability.
Also, If you train properly and learn how to move the right way with fundamental human movements like squatting, hip hinging, pushing and pulling, you will function more effectively with daily activities, lowering the risk of injury in all areas of life. On the other hand, machines can actually lead to injury by promoting inefficient and unnatural motor patterns and putting negative stresses on joints that are locked into an unnatural path of motion.
Learn how to lift correctly and you will be more resistant to unwanted injuries!! Always make sure to do a proper warm up before you lift in order to help decrease your chances of any injuries.
One last awesome benefit from weight lifting…
After a few months of lifting you might start to notice how your pants start to fit a little more loosely and that dress you’ve had in the closet for over a year fits to a T… yep, now we are ecstatic ladies! Working out in general helps to increase our moods for the better and it helps improve our self-esteem and body image. We all know that if we have to go down in a pant size at the store, we are jumping for joy in that changing room.
So treat yourself to some good hard work at the gym and you will reap the benefits of feeling even better in your own skin.
If any of you ladies would like to check out a female friendly strength training website filled with great tips & healthy delicious recipes, take a look at girlsgonestrong.com and check out the archives of articles at our site here.
About the Author
As an understudy of Nick Rosencutter, she has benefited tremendously in analyzing and correcting common exercise techniques along with postural imbalances. She is looking forward to helping people and positively impacting lives within the health and fitness industry.