This primarily targets women whose excuse for not incorporating resistance or strength training into your workout is because you do not want to “get bulky” or you want to “slim your thighs” well good news ladies, chances are adding some strength and resistance training WILL NOT cause you to bulk up!! (I know, shocking) It is quite the opposite actually, and it is my goal with this short blurb to convince you all to try to encompass some resistance training into your near future workouts…
Reason #1 to do strength training (from a non-science standpoint, AKA most important to everyone): Holidays are upon us then before you know it spring (swimsuit) season is here!
So you want to lose weight for halloween or before the holidays and look great, who doesn’t want to, so you decide to hit them gym more frequently… and you decide to do stacks on stacks on stack of CARDIO because it burns more calories. Well in the short run you are correct, by running or elliptically for an hour you will burn more calories (especially if you are working at HIGH intensity) but that will not translate into post workout calorie burning as much as adding on the extra muscle will! Your muscles are metabolically active when your active, they are constantly working to produce ATP (energy) that your body needs to fuel your movements compared to fat that is not metabolically active. So to summarize reason #1: Adding muscle will help with OVERALL calorie expenditure, which is the most important thing in a weight loss regimen. (I will explore this in the future when discussing how its not carbs that make people fat, it is the EXCESS OVERLOAD of calories and fat that make you fat so stay tuned)
Reason #2: You will NOT bulk up or put on tons of extra pounds.
So you say you do not lift weights because you are trying to lose weight and putting on muscle will increase your weight and make you look like a body builder. This is a very common misconception amongst women, especially those who look at body building pictures of women, but due to some physiological and biological differences between males and females you WILL NOT naturally get that big, its not possible. Women naturally have less testosterone then men and it is virtually impossible for women’s muscles to hypertrophy (grow in size) to be as massive and bulky without some role of genetics (mesomorphic body type, i.e. muscular build) or ergogenic aids such as steroids. Women tend to increase their strength without excess hypertrophy because they create new neural networks and motor programs that provide the strength they need without showing it in excess on their figures. This is why some athletic women may not look super muscular but then you see them throw dumbbells around like they are marshmallows. So pick up some heavier dumbbells and get to lifting, that lean muscle is in their somewhere!
Reasons #3: Lifting weight will not make you gain excessive amounts of extra weight!
So common misconception, a pound of muscle weights more than a pound of fat…. Last I checked a pounds a pounds a pounds a pound! (i.e. they BOTH weigh a pound). So chances are you will not GAIN extra weight but you may also not lose extra weight from doing more strength training. The benefits you will see from adding resistance training will be seen internally and in the ways your clothes fit. So internally (the science stuff) you are decreasing your total body fat which has many positive side effects such as reducing risk of disease and improving blood lipid levels, and also translates to physical appearance and can provide better posture and overall self-esteem. So if your not losing weight but your not gaining weight, how do your clothes fit better you might be wondering, well let me tell you. What takes up more ROOM (i.e. is less dense)… FAT!!! Muscle is nice and compact and very dense whereas fat is not dense and takes up more room under your skin. So if you decrease your total body fat and increase your fat free mass with a resistance training program you may not lose weight per se but you could drop a pants size or two because your body becomes tighter and stronger and more DENSE. So overall, a pound of fat is still a pound if it is muscle, but when it is muscle it is denser and therefore looks nice and lean and swimsuit ready for the summer.
That is just a nutshell of the positive things strength training can do for your workouts so now you just need to find a strength training that is right for you. There are many that involve training for muscular endurance (which may appeal for those still skeptical about bulking up, even though chances are if your not bulky already its not in your genetics) which involves low weight and high repetition numbers, or programs that are strictly strength building that use higher weight closer to your repetition max and less repetitions, it just depends on what you want to train. I am also not saying to cut out your cardio, it is still very important from a calorie burning standpoint and very beneficial for your heart, so you should find a happy balance between the two. First come up with a REALISTIC and SPECIFIC goal and aim your training to SPECIFICALLY target that goal!! Now get out there and get that spring break body we are all striving for