One of the very best ways to lose weight and get fit is to strength train. There are all kinds of proven benefits for women who do strength training. But there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness. When we start to talk about strength training for women, inevitably the question comes up: “If I lift too much will I get bulky?” or “I don’t want to use big weights, they’ll make me bulky or hulky”. Unfortunately, somehow the myth that women should use light weights and high reps to “tone up” got started, and this misinformation has become accepted.
This idea of getting bulky is a one of the biggest myths out there when it comes to women’s fitness. We want to reassure you: YOU WILL NOT GET BULKY FROM PICKING UP HEAVY THINGS! Instead, you will be lean, toned and fit looking. Just what you are after, right?
There are two main things to understand:
1) You know those familiar pictures of women (and men) who look like bodybuilders? They eat, train, and take supplements specifically to build their muscles to look like that! They have probably been working towards a goal of bodybuilding for years. It takes very specific training to look like that.
2.) When you pick up heavy things, your muscles get stronger (not necessarily bigger). Your brilliant body adapts to the demands made of it. If you pick up heavy things, and eat a caloric deficit (with the right kinds of food – actual healthy food) your muscles will get stronger and denser. You will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will get that toned look you are looking for. You will notice that you are able to do things (like walk up and down stairs) without getting out of breath, etc.
The Right Way to Strength Train:
We often hear that women have been told strength training is important, but not what KIND of strength training. Often, women are told to lift smaller, lighter weights with higher repetition counts.
Here’s an explanation of what happens when you do this. Some of you may already be familiar with the term muscular hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is just the scientific term for increasing in size or volume. There are two different types of muscular hypertrophy.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the kind where fluid in your muscles called sarcoplasmic fluid (which makes up 25-30% of muscle size) increases. This type of hypertrophy is responsible for an increase in muscle size, but not necessarily an increase in muscle strength. You’re more likely to achieve this type of hypertrophy from lots of repetitions with lighter weights. Light weights = increase in size! Believe it or not, bodybuilders do tons of this kind of work.
Myofibrilar Hypertrophy describes the enhancement of the muscle itself. Myofibrils are the contractile component of your muscle responsible for strength. With myofibrilar hypertrophy you are increasing the number of myofibrils and their counterparts in your muscle, making you stronger, but not necessarily bigger. This is achieved with lower repetitions and heavier weights. Overall, this is the best way to get toned and get fit.
The End Result? Longer, leaner muscles.
In addition to NOT making you the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger, lifting heavier weights increases your metabolism, allowing you to BURN MORE FAT! Simply put, this is because the harder your body has to work, the more “disturbed” your metabolism gets. In this case, disturbance is a good thing! See you in the gym for some good old fashioned disturbing!