I used to dance with a professional ballet company and one of our requirements was to lift weights on a weekly basis. What? But ballet dancers are so slim and sleek and I don’t want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in a leotard! What will my dance partner think when he tries to lift my bulky muscles into the air? You can’t be serious.
Like many women, I too thought we “bulked up” by lifting weights at the gym. However, my fears and assumptions were completely misplaced. If you are one of the weight-lifting phobic ladies, we are here to allay your fears too. Below are a few facts to debunk the myth that lifting weights transforms us into the Incredible Hulk:
Ladies, there’s one important difference between men and women when it comes to building muscle – Testosterone. It is a predominantly male hormone and women just don’t have enough of it to produce serious Schwarzenegger-like muscles simply by lifting weights a few times a week. Women have testosterone levels that are 15-20, sometimes 30, times lower than that of men. Plus, it takes a lot of work even to gain an ounce of muscle. Imagine how long it would take to rival Schwarzenegger? Getting “jacked” is really only achievable with excessive lifting and a hormone imbalance—aka steroids! Yes there are women body builders, but that’s another story entirely.
The muscle-fat relationship
Muscle is denser than fat. The more you lift weights the more defined and lean your muscles and body become, replacing fat. Hello swimsuit season! The less you use your muscles however, such as not lifting weights, the less easily your body can burn calories which allows the pounds to creep back on. If your body is burning fewer calories every day while your calorie intake remains the same, the excess food energy from calories consumed will be stored as fat rather than muscle.
Make sure that you’re not just lifting weights but burning the fat that surrounds or can be found on top muscles, such as the abdominals, through a cardio workout and following a healthy diet. Zumba for instance, is a lot of fun!
Heavy weights vs. light weights
A lot of women think that if they avoid lifting heavier weights, they will bulk up whereas if they use light weights the bulk won’t happen. This has a smidgeon of truth to it but it’s sure a time-waster. If you’re short on time because most of us ladies are, you probably want the most out of your workout. Not only do heavier weights allow for a quicker workout but using heavier weights gets you fatigued faster. This is a good thing because to get stronger and more toned, you must get to the point where you simply can’t lift those weights one more time. Fatigue=getting stronger.
Weight lifting benefits
Lifting weights improves bone density, joint mobility and body composition. Daily tasks become easier too—aka, lifting those heavy groceries and carrying them up your stairs with ease, no male help required thank you very much.
Endorphins! When you finish a hard workout, not only do you feel accomplished but you actually feel better. Who doesn’t want a little swing in their step after a hard day or a long week?
Burning calories while you rest
Yep! That may sound like an oxymoron but muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, so the more of it you develop and the more you have, the more energy you expend just to keep your body moving.
So, the next time you catch yourself eyeing your weights warily, just remember they are one of the keys to getting toned and uh, getting that awesome swimsuit body!
Do you have any weight lifting routines you simply love that keep you toned? Share them with us!