Disclaimer: Our bloggers are not health experts. Contact your physician if you have questions about how hormones affect muscle growth or if you are thinking about starting a new exercise program.
By: Lydia Scott
The Struggle is Real
I have a struggle. The struggle is real. The struggle is kind of a pain in the patootie. See, I’m a big supporter of strength training. I can’t recommend it enough. Strength training is fantastic! I tell everyone I know who asks what kind of exercise I do. And when I tell them the different things I do, and I get to the part about “strength training” and “lifting weights,” nine out of ten of the women respond exactly the same: “What? Lift weights? No way! I don’t wanna look like a guy, ewww!”
Then you hear the loud, frustrated sigh slipping from my lips. DUDE! Why in the world do you think working to be stronger is going to turn you into a, well…a dude? Really? You think some 100-lb leg presses are going to give you Mr. Universe thighs? Some 15-lb Preacher Curls are going to send you to the guys’ clothing section for white tanks so you can “kiss those guns?” Weekly 70-lb deadlifts are going to have you in a sumo-style diaper on the Power Lifter channel?
That’s not how the female body works. Unless you have a major hormonal imbalance, or you train for years specifically to be a competitive body builder through extremely intense diet and targeted training, you will not look like a dude. Or even dude-ish. You need higher levels of testosterone to really build bulky muscles. The physiology that makes you a female also directs your muscles to keep themselves on the long, stretched out, and softly sculpted side. Whereas, the physiology that makes a guy a guy directs their muscles to grow big and bulky, fast.
Don’t take my word for it though. Let these fitness experts share their insights on women and why weight training shouldn’t scare them:
“Muscle burns fat. All you need to know!”
– J’Aimee Mechling, Personal Trainer and Wellness Director
“Strength training accentuates your natural silhouette. Once you burn the fat, you build up the muscles that were hidden and naturally create a beautiful shape. You determine how muscular you want to look, and cater your workout regimen towards that goal. Hourglass or body builder? It’s up to you!”
– Miriam Smith, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, AMPS Lifestyle Change.
Did you notice? Muscle burns fat. Yes. Muscle takes more calories to keep it going than fat does. If you weigh 150 pounds with a good supply of muscle, your body will automatically burn more calories just existing than if you weighed 150 pounds but have little muscle.
And me? Why do I do Preacher Curls, Romanian Deadlifts, standing kickbacks, chest presses, and an assortment of other strength-building exercises? For all the reasons J’Aimee and Miriam listed, plus I’m just sick of being weak. I mean, don’t you want to be able to toss that 20-pound bag of dog food in your grocery cart like it’s a sack of feathers? Or swing your 40-pound toddler around without getting sore or breathless? Don’t you want to be able to eat more without gaining a bunch of extra fat? Don’t you want to burn lots of calories all day and all night, instead of just the 45 minutes while you jog/row/bike/walk/dance? I do! I don’t like feeling weak when I know I don’t have to be. I love seeing my pants getting baggier, my legs and booty getting smoother and more shapely, and yet…I am not starving and I’m not slowly looking more dude-like.
Give it a try. Here’s a challenge to everyone whose doctor has approved them to engage in an exercise regimen like this: Twice a week, spend just 5 minutes lifting something. Your leg, the milk jug, the full laundry basket, a backpack. Then the next week, do it a little longer. Check back in a few weeks to let me know how it’s going!
Be a strong woman!