If you go into just about any mixed-sex gym, you will usually find a clear divide between the men in the weights room, and the women dominating the cardio machines. Cardio is seen as the safe area, as we know what we’re doing, and the machine tells us exactly how many calories we’re burning. It’s easy, straightforward and unintimidating. Also, we “don’t want to be bulky”.
This set up means that many women are missing out on the myriad of benefits heavy weight lifting offers due to unfounded fears and myths, made worse by a fear of not doing it right. If your problem is lack of knowledge, however, there are numerous resources out there to help get you started. Bodybuilding gives a step by step breakdown on how to perform each exercise and also offers a variety of workouts. Alternatively the app JeFit also outlines various different exercises and routines based on which area you want to train.
So if want to be “strong not skinny” and feel the benefits both mentally and physically, it might be time for you to ditch the hours of repetitive cardio and go pick up some heavy weights.
1. You’ll become toned, not bulky
“If I start doing heavy weight training, won’t I just get really bulky?”
No, just no.
Women do not have the level of testosterone needed to “bulk up”. Female bodybuilders spend hours in the gym following a ridiculously intense workout and eating programme to achieve that level of muscle and get that big. So unless you’re going to start spending about 5 hours in the gym whilst knocking back a few kilograms of chicken a day then, no, you’re not going to become bulky.
What you will find is that you will become more toned. Your fat will turn to muscle and your muscles will become more defined. Your body shape will change and you’ll begin to get the curves you crave. Just doing cardio or using the lightest dumbbells you can find will not give you the same results. If you want to get that Kim Kardashian bum without the surgery, then weighted squats are your friend.
2. You’ll build muscle and burn more fat
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
And though, yes, if you do an hour of high intensity cardio or running you will burn more calories in that hour than if you were to do an hour of weight training weight training will help you burn more calories overall. Weight training means that your metabolism will stay higher for up to 24 hours after. And not only that, even if you’re just sitting on the sofa doing nothing, or eating pizza, you’ll burn more calories whilst doing it because of your increased muscle mass!
3. You’ll become stronger in all areas of your life
Your new found physical strength will give you a sense of independence and freedom as daily tasks are made easier. Lifting your heavy suitcase up on the train? You’ve got it. Carrying your rucksack filled with alcohol as well as your four man tent? Done. Rearranging your room and moving all of the furniture? No help needed.
The number on the scale will no longer matter, because you now measure your progress by the way you look and feel.
Going into the gym and seeing yourself improve week on week, you will find yourself soon lifting weights you initially thought impossible. This sense of achievement will boost your self-confidence which will spill over into other aspects of your life. And soon you’ll find that you have the strength to better cope with all of the unexpected dramas that life throws your way.
Photo credit: M10 Life
Lifestyle Editor, Girls Talk London
Follow Victoria on Twitter @apinchofcake