It’s a pretty common concern, heard by trainers around the world when they start working with female clients. “I don’t really want to lift heavy. I don’t want to get bulky. Can’t I just do abs? Here’s the thing, weightlifting won’t make women bulky – especially if you’re doing it right. In fact, you could be doing yourself a massive disservice by allowing this myth to influence the way you train. Let’s take a closer look at the issue, and, in the process, dispel a few related misconceptions. Just for fun.
How Bulk Gets Built
To really understand why it’s safe – and recommended – for women to lift and lift heavy, it’s important to first get a clear understanding of how muscles grow. Specifically, how bodybuilders get all that bulk women tend to fear?
When you exercise, your muscles actually endure countless microscopic tears in the fibers. As a result, your body realizes that those fibers need to be rebuilt bigger and stronger so that the next workout doesn’t do as much damage. But this happens constantly – just about every time you do something new and challenging that your muscles aren’t used to. And you haven’t bulked up yet, so clearly there are other factors.
First, there’s diet. In order to rebuild those muscle fibers properly, your body needs raw materials found in your diet – primarily protein. And these materials need to be in excess of what your body needs to survive on a regular basis. For muscles to grow significantly, then, they need to be placed under regular stress to stimulate reparations and have excess calories.
But wait! There’s more! It’s also important to realize that hormones and genetics – factors that you have little-to-no control over – are also deeply influential in this whole thing. The key player in all this is the hormone testosterone, which works along with other hormones to stimulate muscle growth. The thing is that women have very low levels of testosterone compared with men, meaning that their ability to build muscle mass is automatically limited. Regardless of gender, genetics also dictate your body shape and even the potential size and shape of your muscles.
What Lifting Really Does
Okay, so lifting weights most likely will not make women big and bulky as is the common fear. Is there a reason for them to do it, though? Several, actually
For one thing, weightlifting does amazing things to your metabolism. Interestingly, cardio does burn more calories then weightlifting during the actual workout. But in the minutes, hours and even days afterward, weightlifting causes a phenomenon called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) – wherein you continue to burn calories even at rest. Even if we looker further down the line, once the EPOC has worn off, weightlifting creates a faster metabolism. To illustrate, each pound of muscle burns about 6-10 calories per hour while a pound of fat takes about 2-4 calories each hour to maintain itself. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
Of course, weightlifting also makes you stronger – both inside and outside the gym. You learn to perform complex movements injury free, which can often translate to the real world and help you keep up with the demand of daily life. And the boost of confidence, of course, should not be ignored.