“I don’t want to get bulky.”
It’s a common reluctance when women entertain the idea of adding weightlifting to their workout. Losing weight and reducing body fat, not packing on muscle, are the usual female fitness goals. But lifting heavy weights and accidentally getting bulky is like reading a book and accidentally earning a PhD. It just doesn’t happen.
The fear of gaining unwanted muscle mass is understandable, especially when we see images of female body builders who look stronger than most men. But these women (allegedly) use performance enhancing drugs to boost testosterone to unnatural levels. A woman who eats right and spends time in the weight room will look nothing like the athletes in body-building competitions. Your body will go through changes, but it could be the best thing to ever happen to your health and fitness.
You Will Get Strong
Here’s what will happen when you lift weights — you’ll develop strong, tone muscle. Dozens of fitness magazines talked about Michelle Obama’s tone arms when her and the president entered the public spotlight. In an interview with Oprah in 2009, the first lady said she doesn’t shy from the weights and makes them part of her regular routine.
Movements like squats and push presses aren’t just for men. They activate the core, glutes and other key muscle groups while ramping up metabolism. That’s right, lifting weights will burn fat like a roaring furnace.
You’ll Lose Fat… Fast
The treadmill isn’t just boring, it’s somewhat pointless. Cardio is thought to be the ultimate fat burner, but a University of Alabama study found that women who lift weights lost just as much fat as women who stuck strictly with cardio. And not only was the fat loss the same, the lifters retained more muscle tone (especially upper body) than the runners.
Another fat-loss myth is “spot training.” For example, cranking endless out crunches won’t target stomach fat just line running doesn’t make your legs thinner. Fat loss is an accumulative effort — you’re either losing it or you’re not — there’s no such thing as “shedding a bit off the belly.”
Ditch the Scale
If you’re significantly overweight, weightlifting does result in an immediate loss in pounds from dropping body fat. But in some cases you’ll actually gain weight from stronger and denser muscles, and that’s okay. Ask yourself what that number on the scale really means. If you could snap your fingers and transform into your idea of the perfect body image, would it still matter if the scale read 200 pounds?
Television is filled with shows like “Biggest Loser” which show overweight contestants working to lose weight on cable TV. While we’re all amazed by the falling number on the scale, we miss what’s really happening — they’re getting stronger and healthier. In the end, what difference does that number make?
You’ll Redefine Sexy
Sexy is subjective, but the cover of Cosmo and Victoria’s Secret would like you to think they have it figured out. With so many women striving to become a size zero, it’s no wonder they’re afraid of the weight room. But take a look at an athlete like Andrea Ager and see a completely different side of sexy.
Andrea Ager competes in CrossFit, a new fitness craze mixing gymnastics and weightlifting and a high-intensity pace. You can see from both videos that Ager isn’t shy when it comes to the bar. You might be thinking, “That’s impressive, but I don’t want six-pack abs and ripped shoulders.” That’s fine, Ager is a professional athlete with years of training under her belt. And even after all that, she’s anything but “bulky.”