Here’s the ultimate truth: Lifting those little pink dumbbells once a week while doing aerobics is going to get you nowhere. Thankfully, there are more women strength training now than ever before. But then again, it’s those pink dumbbells they tend to stick to. Most are of the mindset that if they use heavier weights they will end up looking like a WWF wrestler. The funny thing is some of the strongest women I know are also the leanest.
The truth is women just don’t have the hormonal support system to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Women aren’t at danger here because their testosterone levels are a fraction of men’s and there is, thus, absolutely no risk of them becoming Hulk-like. So it’s time to forget that myth and strength train to look your absolute best.
Yes, there are women, typically professional bodybuilders, who look masculine. But it takes many, many years of dedication and a strict lifestyle to achieve this sort of muscularity. You don’t need to worry about looking too masculine unless you train with that specific intention.
My trainer and I see women heading to the weight section where they proceed to do dumbbell curls and triceps kickbacks with the tiniest weights. Every single time we see a woman do this, my trainer simply shakes her head and laments over the lost time and effort. What’s the point of strength training if you aren’t doing it right, she often questions to anybody who listens. I agree because under her guidance I have learnt how lifting weights can be more impactful in weight loss than cardio and other forms of exercise.
Training with weights will increase your lean muscle mass. And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. And the more calories you burn, the leaner you will get. Increased muscle mass will also add shape to your arms and take inches from your belly region as well. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at melting away intra-abdominal fat – the kind of fat that’s associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.
Why then is it commonly recommended that women train with lighter weights? Well, my trainer seems to think it because of the typical stereotype that women are weak and fragile beings who can’t handle anything more than pushups on their knees and bicep curls with pink dumbbells. Yes, she abhors those pink dumbbells. And with her constant company, I’ve come to loathe these things as well.
If you want to gain muscle and improve your shape and curves, then you are going to have to lift heavy weights. This means that instead doing endless reps with light weights, as the media often prescribes women to do, you need to lift some heavy weights and really challenge yourself. It’s not important that you move big weights. What is important is that you are selecting and lifting loads that are actually heavy for you and thus not easy for you to lift. Over time, you will get stronger and the kilos you can handle will also increase.
When you skip the weight room and just stick to cardio, you lose out on the ultimate flab melting opportunity. Just two sessions of strength training a week can reduce overall body fat by about three percent in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. A study found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights.
While strength training just don’t rely exclusively on the scale to track your progress because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount of weight into less space. You might find that you fit into smaller sized jeans but your weight is the same as before. Also remember to fuel your workout properly. Many dieters are guilty of cutting back on crucial muscle-maintaining protein when they want to reduce their overall calorie intake.
With my trainer’s help, I have been working towards making myself as strong as possible while staying as light as possible, just like rock climbers, gymnasts, athletes and dancers who all possess incredible levels of strength while staying light. And this will only be possible with strength training. Join me in my strength training journey where I’ll try my best to guide you in the next few weeks.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness expert. I’m just someone who has worked hard to lose weight. I have consulted a dietician friend to find out what works for me, and suggest you do the same. I’m only sharing my weight loss experience through The Week and trying to motivate you all to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It’s always best to get an experts advice before beginning a diet and workout plan. Stop exercising if you experience pain during the workout. Also never reduce your calorie intake to less than 1000.
If you have any queries regarding my weight loss journey, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.