The truth about women and weight lifting

 
 

There is a very common misconception that women who lift weights will "bulk up" and look "man-ish." This is due largely to misinformation peddled by companies to sell magazines, weight loss pills, fad diets and food, useless equipment and cookie cutter programming to women who just want to get on the right path to better health. I am hoping to dispel these "fitness" platitudes by briefly explaining the reality of weight lifting for women. 

1. First of all, if it were that easy to get "bulky" every man in the gym (including myself) would be huge muscle bound maniacs! For women it is even more difficult because they do not produce enough testosterone and human growth hormone naturally to build that level of muscle mass quickly or easily without supplementation.

2. Secondly, due to poor dietary guidelines encouraging women to lose weight by always eating at a caloric deficit, women usually do not ingest the amount of calories needed to bulk up. In fact, the decrease in calories slows the metabolism causing fat retention. A pound of fat or muscle is the equivalent of 3500 calories and requires a dietary deficit or surplus to lose or gain. If you simply eat healthy foods at a "maintenance" level caloric intake you can change your body composition without shifting the scale in either direction.

3. Lastly, if you look at any generic workout tailored specifically to women its usually something to the effect of 30 minutes of cardio, ab crunches, air squats and a 5lb bicep curl circuit. I hate to break it to Cosmopolitan, but this is not an effective routine for any fitness goal especially building strength or muscle tone in women. The truth is unless you are lifting specifically for gaining muscle using heavy weight, big compound movements and isolating specific muscle groups in order to stimulate growth your chances of bulking are slim. The average person can only gain about half a pound of lean muscle per week, which is only 2lbs per month, and this is only with proper diet and lifting. It is also important to remember that a pound of muscle is denser than a pound of fat so you will look leaner not heavier!

The most common goal for my female clients is to "lose weight and tone up," also known as recomposition. (Burning fat while simultaneously building muscle.) This means that you should not fear the weight room or the scale ladies because when you lift weights you,

- increase overall strength

- build proportional muscle mass

- increase calories burned

-increase cardiovascular health

-improve self confidence

-boost endorphins and mood

and if you want to tighten your waist and build a squat booty start clangin' and bangin' with the boys, and I promise you will not look like Mr. Olympia!