Happy Thursday friends!
Today I wanted to focus on weight lifting + misconceptions about weight lifting. I haven’t done an exercise post for a while, but I’m passionate about bringing you information that will improve your health + life! If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I LOVE encouraging exercise. I do believe that something is better than nothing, but it really bothers me when there is misinformation out there or entire workout theories around lifting 2 lb dumbbells. Here is the thing: functional activities during everyday life require you to lift more than 2 lbs and the benefits from lifting heavier are numerous. We’ll cover those today.
Women: You AREN’T going to get bulky from lifting heavier weight. I figured we should get that out of the way right away. There are a couple reasons that we aren’t able to build as much muscle as our male counterparts. Men have FAR more testosterone than women do (in fact, we only have about 5% of the testosterone that they do). Another difference is in the muscle fibers: men have more + bigger muscle fibers. For these physiological reasons, your guy friend or man SHOULD be stronger than you. Drew + I will hit the gym together when we can, even sometimes completing the same lifting workout. The only difference? The amount of weight we’re pushing around.
In my experience as a personal trainer + friend of many women I have noticed that women tend to do too much cardiovascular training. Cardio encompasses running, elliptical, biking, stair climbing, walking, swimming, rowing, etc. Many people hit those machines + never ever venture into the weight area.
My question for you: what are your goals? For most women (+ men), fat loss + “toning up” top the list. What exactly does toning mean? Losing enough fat so that your muscles show through. You aren’t going to get the long, lean, + toned look that you want by doing endless cardiovascular training.
If your goal is fat loss or toning and cardio is your go-to exercise routine, you should rethink this. Strength training my friends!!!!! Increasing your muscle mass will help you to burn more calories/fat at rest (aka the 23 hours a day that you aren’t working out). When you hit the treadmill, you burn a lot of calories up front but the burn stops working shortly after you do. Additionally, if you are marathon training or training long distances in general your body might start holding onto that fat that you want to lose. Say what?!!! It’s true. If you are putting in miles on miles, your body can head into a catabolic state. Meaning, it could start breaking down that lean tissue for energy. You’ll stop burning fat and your body will start holding onto it, because your body is a smart machine that has a main goal of survival. If you are always spending so many calories running, it will slow down metabolism and go into conservation mode. (I took this paragraph from a previous post called To all my Cardio Queens + Kings, head there to read more).
Okay, so back to talking about strength training. In order to increase muscle, you need to challenge your weight load. This is not accomplished by repeatedly lifting pink dumbbells. Get yourself into some sizeable weights + change up your routine. Most women prefer to stay in the higher repetition range, usually completing endurance sets of 10-15 repetitions. In order to challenge your body + create a new stimulus for it to adapt to it can mean lifting heavier weights + dropping your repetition range down.
Let’s get into the benefits to convince you this is a needed change.
Benefits of Strength Training:
Lose more fat: “When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle.” –Women’s Health article
Increase metabolism: Are you jealous of your husband or boyfriend’s metabolism (looking at you Drew)…lifting is one way you can improve yours! Your metabolism increases for up to 39 hours post lifting session because your muscles need energy as they repair + build. A weight lifter will burn more calories throughout their day than a person that only does cardiovascular training.
You’ll be happier + handle stress better: Lifting weights is a mood booster! People that lift weight have less stress hormones floating around their body + are better able to handle stressful situations.
Stronger bones: This one is huge for women! As we age, our bones get weaker + more susceptible to fractures. Strength training is a sure fire way to maintain bone density + can even increase it.
Decrease your risk for injury: Stronger bones + stronger connective tissue are both benefits to strength training. The stronger connective tissue strengthens your joint stability, lessening your risk for injury. If you train properly + learn fundamental movements (ex. squatting, pushing, pulling) you decrease your risk of injury in all aspects of life. I 100% think weight training has made this pregnancy A TON more comfortable than if I hadn’t weight trained or only done cardio before it!
Okay, so what changes should you make?!
If you haven’t been exercising at all, I don’t know what more to say to you 😉 I believe that every single person should make exercise a part of their life in order to be their happiest, most confident, most energetic, + best self. We could all come up with a million excuses not to do it, but where there is a will…there is a way.
If you’ve been lifting at the gym: take a look at your workouts including your sets + repetitions. If you are always knocking out 10-15 repetitions with an easier weight, consider increasing your weight + decreasing your repetitions (dropping into the 6-8 range).
If you are a class goer: Don’t be shy, pick some heavier weights for class!!! Pump the iron, not the colored weights! The colored weights will always be there if you need to drop down, but challenge yourself. Make it hard to finish the last repetitions of each set.
If you have need further instruction: It’s never a bad idea to hire a good personal trainer. I know plenty of them including: Casey (Pewaukee, WI currently on maternity leave), Nick (Milwaukee area), Erin (virtual trainer), Brittany (Milwaukee area), Dina (Chicagoland), + Brittney (Milwaukee area). They’ve all done interviews on the blog before if you want to learn more about them! There is plenty of good information in those interviews, + Nick gives tips for picking a personal trainer.
I hope you learned a little something today! Have a great Thursday!!!! Next week I’m going to do a post about steady state cardiovascular training vs. high intensity interval training + drop a little more fitness knowledge on you guys!