Girls, want to know how to drive a trainer crazy? Just ask if we have any weights lighter than 5 pounds or if lifting weights will bulk you up! (I’m wincing right now!) One of the hardest challenges I face as a female trainer is convincing other women to lift heavy! Women are always envious of men’s ability to eat more and stay trim! Why? Mother Nature hasn’t cursed you. It’s just that most men have more muscle mass than women. The trick to changing your body is to attack your burn on both fronts: cardio and STRENGTH TRAINING!
THE MYTH OF BUILDING LONG, LEAN MUSCLE
Where did we get this idea that lifting heavy will bulk you up or that one form of exercise over another can “lengthen” a muscle? (WHAT THE WHAT?!?) Throw that idea out the window along with “spot reduction” and “5 minute total body workouts!” With a little closer scrutiny (even common sense), you quickly realize that most of these methods and taglines are just a way to sell you more books, magazines and DVDs.
REALITY CHECK: You can promote flexibility, reduce soreness, elongate tight and constricted muscles after a workout. But a muscle is attached to a bone at two points. One end of the muscle, the origin, attaches to a more stationary bone, while the other end, the insertion, attaches to a more movable bone. The muscle’s length is fixed between two points! So, just by logic, you cannot change your skeletal structure through exercise, without somehow lengthening the bones to which the muscle is attached. Sorry. It’s not going to happen any more than a thousand side lunges and squats are going to “reduce the hips” (wincing again!) without committing to making cardio a serious part of your life!
LIFT WEIGHT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Strength training is one of the most underutilized tools in the weight loss war among women. Lifting, pushing and pulling heavier weights not only burns a ton of calories while you work out (as evidenced by the pools of sweat on the floor), your metabolism is boosted as you continue to burn calories for a full 24-36 hours post-workout. This is as a result of the body working hard to repair and rebuild the muscles. This all leads to a leaner body, with more muscle mass, and as you know, muscle burns more calories than fat – two to three times as many! So even when you’re just sitting on your butt checking out what’s up on Facebook or secretly reading “50 Shades of Grey” (or worse “50 Shades Freed!”), you’re still burning more calories.
Let me repeat: The most effective way to change your body is to hoist heavier weights. In fact, a lot of you should be lifting heavier! YEAH, HEAVIER, as in: “This is going to hurt a little bit.” Get used to feeling uncomfortable. That’s why they call it “working out” and not “hanging out!” We can still have fun, but you gotta put in the work.
Another added benefit to going heavy is that your runs will improve. Your stronger core, shoulders, arms and legs propel you to your best sprints. This will (yep, you guessed it…are you making the connection yet?) BURN MORE CALORIES!
BULKING UP requires a strict, very specific regimen of diet and exercise to produce and maintain a substantial muscle mass gain. Unless you’ve been exposed to a blast of weaponized gamma radiation and testosterone, you can put down those hot pink dumbbells. Getting HUGE is a part-time job. Besides, if it were that easy to bulk up, wouldn’t you see most 16-18 year old boys walking around with mini Arnold bodies, flexing at every reflection and hottie that walks by?
PARTING WORDS OF ADVICE
Ditch the scale as you go through this process because muscle weighs more than fat. Even though you may be kicking butt in class and torching calories, at first, the scale may not reflect the amazing things happening to your body. We’re all evolutionary creatures. The evolution of your body will proportionately follow your hard work. Surrender yourself to the process!
Everyone is looking for the next pill, powder or magic potion to getting hot and fit. The rub is….we’ve already found the answer! You have to commit yourself to perform at your peak, every time! Lift weights heavy enough to get the muscles to fail at the end of every set, and when you hear your trainer cue you to “Sprint,” push the speed to your max so that the last ten seconds are a little scary and only your conviction pulls you through! You’re stronger than you think.
ABOUT ME: I have been into health and fitness for as long as I can remember. I think I was the only “girl” to sign up for the Weight Lifting class at my High School! I was always searching for the next, best way to get my body to perform at its peak and push it to the next level. Fitness has always been an integral part of my life, even as I tried various career paths, to little satisfaction. After becoming a Mom of three beautiful children, I personally felt how rewarding it was to teach and share my knowledge and experiences with others. I took my journey to the next level and decided to go “Pro.” I dove in and became certified as a Group Fitness Instructor, and also in TRX Group Fitness and Personal Training. Fitness is my lifelong passion, so I have as much fun tackling a tough class as I do reading a new anatomy book or my time spent on the internet studying different training techniques, physiology, how to perfect form or improve your stride! The line between career, hobby, work and play has blissfully blurred!