Women: why you need to lift heavy

by | Mar 9, 2012 | Bodybuilding | 0 comments

To steal a line from a prominent angst-ridden star of the 90’s, this article may be a Jagged Little Pill for many of you to swallow.  You may have heard this before, but this time we’re going to make it ‘stick’, so to speak.

I’m going to assume the following:  you want to lose weight, tone up, develop that ‘tight’ feeling all over, and elicit stares of envy – perhaps even a few gasps – when you unveil your new bikini body in the summer.  If this doesn’t describe you, you can stop reading now.  In fact, you can probably leave this site entirely as there won’t be much here that’s useful for you.

Still here?  Awesome.  What I want to talk about is the proven way to accomplish the above stated goals.  I’m going to make it simple, and I’m not going to make you wait for it.  Here we go (it’s a multi-step process, so allow me to present this in outline form for easier reading):

  1. Eat clean
  2. Work out

A bit anti-climactic, perhaps – but it really is that simple.

Point #1 simply means eating consistently throughout the day to develop good nutritional habits, and making sure the foods you’re eating aren’t processed.  We can split hairs beyond that regarding how much of what you should be eating when, but if you can eliminate the processed garbage foods you’re already 85% of the way there.

Point #2 I want to spend a little more time on, as this is where there are some differing opinions.  My aim here is to separate opinion from fact.  What I state below is not my opinion, as it has been proven through countless clinical, peer-reviewed studies in exercise journals.  I also practice this with my clients and have seen them get the results they are after.  So let’s delve into what ‘work out’ really means.

When you go the gym, hope on your favorite piece of cardio equipment.  For about 5 minutes.  Just to warm up.

Then, move to the weights and be prepared to work.  Hard.

Let’s talk about why that’s the answer first.  If you remove the weight training and manage to lose all the weight you want through just diet and cardio, 2 things will happen:  first, you’ll be frustrated with how long it took.  It’s meant to be a gradual process but that plan, if it does ever end up working, will take a long, long time.  Second, without weight training you will not look like what you imagine when you close your eyes, unless your ideal body is one complete devoid of shape and feature.  If you incorporate the weights, you’ll not only accelerate the process by adding lean tissue that increases your base metabolism, but you’ll end up with the right curves, definition, and appearance of athleticism that is typically found to be ‘ideal’.

The idea of heavy, intense weight training is a hard one for many women to come to grips with, for at least 2 reasons.  First, there is a potential intimidation factor, or fear of the unknown.  This is a reasonable concern, as it’s certainly possible to injure yourself if you’re not familiar with proper exercise and aren’t careful.  A little quality time with a qualified trainer can fix this one.

The 2nd reason is why I wrote this entry.  It’s the concern that many women have about getting big or bulky.  Allow me to explain why this isn’t really something that you should be concerned about.

Women that get big and bulky through heavy weight training are genetic freaks – if you were one of them, you’d probably already know it.  The main hormone that enables the addition of muscle mass in both men and women is testosterone, and women on average have about 10% as much as men do.  Physiologically speaking, it is just very unlikely that you’re going to pack on the muscle and end up looking like a bodybuilder (which is not to discourage those seeking to compete – just be prepared to bust your butt twice as hard at minimum).

Think of the number of men out there killing themselves in the gym with 10 times the testosterone of an average woman and achieving only modest gains, and it begins to put things in perspective a bit.  This is why people wanting to put on muscle – men and women alike – turn to anabolic steroids to help them along.  Due to their legality (or lack thereof) their use is always denied, leading to the perception that everyone with a muscular physique has built it naturally.  While some very impressive bodies have been built without drugs, their use – even outside of professional sports – is much more common than you might think.

And let’s say you are in fact one of the small percentage of women who pack on muscle with relative ease (still extremely hard work, by the way) – it doesn’t happen overnight.  If you find over the course of several months that you can add muscle at a reasonable rate, you can adjust your workouts accordingly using your new found knowledge of weight training and still achieve that ideal body.

Not coincidentally, heavy resistance work is the basis for my Figure Bootcamp!