Girls, Get Your Guns: Why Women Should Lift Weights!
Many women make a huge mistake when they step foot in the gym. They assume that heavy weightlifting will turn them into gargantuan man-ladies. If you're a woman, answer this: when you go into the gym, what is the typical tact you take to your workout program?
Do you first do a light warm-up on the mats? Then do you head over to the cardio machines for a good 20 or 40 minutes, thinking you've gotta blast that cheesecake you mashed last night? Then, do you flex with a few rounds of lightweight circuit sets? Finally, maybe you head off to the exercise mats to crunch for 10 to 20 minutes trying to lean that tummy?
If this is your patty-cake program, it's time to change your course! The program above illustrates most women's workout programs. They don't want to get big and "bulky," so they gravitate toward exercises they think burn the most calories and "tone" their muscles. "No bulk needed. Thank you very much."
These women actually accomplish very little. They may burn a few hundred calories during the cardio workout, and possibly a hundred more in the circuit training, but they won't reshape how their bodies look. A complete body transformation cannot take place when you're pushing daisies instead of iron.
If you want that complete body transformation, to the point where your family hardly recognizes you, then you have to sit up and change, right now. Take action and start lifting heavy weights.
"But won't I get bulky?"
No - and here's why.
Female Testosterone Levels
The first reason lifting heavy weights won't make you don tights, rip sleeves, and become the next Incredible Hulk is that you don't have the testosterone levels to pack on tons of mass.
Men have higher testosterone levels than women; women have higher estrogen levels than men. Compare testosterone levels in a man to the amount in a woman and you find a large gap. Why? Simply put, women don't have testicles. The lion's share of male testosterone comes from the testes.
Women do produce the hormone, but it comes from your ovaries and adrenal glands in smaller doses. Talk to your doctor and have your testosterone levels tested, especially if you've had your ovaries removed, as you will produce even lower levels of the important hormone.
Testosterone is the primary muscle-building hormone in the body. Since women have significantly less of this "Heracles Hormone," they cannot put on muscle mass as easily as men.
Even women who want to build bigger muscles and work extremely hard to bulk still build muscle mass at a fraction of the rate that men do. Stop worrying and start lifting - you won't turn into the Hulk overnight ... unless you get blasted with weaponized Gamma radiation.
Female Dietary Habits
The second reason women won't go "GREEN" from lifting heavier weights is that most women don't consume enough calories to create the mass. Think about it this way: when was the last time you purposefully over-ate to gain weight? Christmas dinner over-indulgence doesn't count.
We're talking purposely consuming more calories than you need, not because of enjoyment, but because you want to gain. When was the last time you forced down extra servings of protein at dinner because it fit your mass-gaining goals? Chances are, never. Most women are born restriction eaters. They have a built-in tendency to want to be slimmer.
To become the bulky beast you needlessly fear, you would have to eat excessive calories daily, add supplementation, and then lift heavy weights on a regular basis. Many women hardly eat enough calories to maintain their current body weight. Getting huge isn't easy. It won't happen to you if you learn how to bench press.
Female Force Development
Finally, you won't get big and bulky because you typically won't generate the degree of force that men will. There are some strong women out there who push themselves to the max. But for the most part, men have a larger degree of drive to push their bodies beyond the limits of comfort. (Refer to the difference in testosterone levels above!)
Building significant amounts of muscle mass requires pushing yourself past the point of comfort. Can you still squat near your max when you know your muscles are tearing? Can you push past and go harder? Many men go on, sometimes to the point of injury. The force factor keeps most women from generating extremely large volumes of muscle mass.
Higher Metabolic Rates
Now that we've established that you're not going to suddenly put on 1,000 pounds, turn green and rampage through downtown, let's talk about some of the great benefits to weight training.
Heavier weight offers women a higher metabolic rate. Since you work against a high degree of resistance with heavy weights, you create tiny muscular tears throughout the body. You will expend a greater number of calories post-workout to repair those tiny tears, thus increasing your overall calorie requirements.
Most women want to get lean and shed body fat. Doesn't a high metabolism sound like something that might help you achieve that goal? You bet it does.
Greater Muscle Definition
The next benefit to lifting heavier weights is that you'll see greater overall muscle definition. When you lift such a light weight as most women do (really? 2-pound curls?), the muscles are barely challenged.
As a result, your muscles won't feel any need to adapt (grow) since they can easily handle what you throw at them.
Push yourself harder and take the weight up to the next level - that's when you see muscle definition and form improve. Provided you also follow a proper diet for fat loss, heavy weights will create the greatest change to how your body looks.
Improved Functional Strength
The final benefit you achieve by lifting heavier weights is that you improve functional strength capabilities. Since you get much stronger by lifting heavier weights, everyday activities will get much easier over time. You won't need to call your brother to move a couch anymore, or even have your son carry your suitcase. Muscularity also means a lower chance of injury if you participate in sports or other activities.
Do not fear heavy weights any longer. What you should fear is being old and weak. What you should fear is wasting more time training strategies that just won't get you where you want to go. Push your body - you are stronger than you think.
Guess what? Muscular strength translates into female independence!
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I absolutely loved this article! I used to be the girl on the opposite side of the gym, just sticking with cardio, afraid to go try out the weights...fearing I'd look stupid since I didn't know what I was doing. But I learned, & I LOVE IT! Working out over there with the guys (showing some guys up!) is awesome!
I just joined and worked out tonight. I love his article. At first I was very weary about strength training but my boyfriend could not have enough good words for it. After one night I'm sore but I feel awesome. It's also very cool being the only female doing some real sh** in that particular section of the gym lol.