One of the biggest misconceptions out there concerning women and lifting weights is the excuse... "I don't wanna get bulky." I used to think it was kind of funny. Like, "Oh, those confused people-- they just don't get it." Now, I'm starting to become a little hostile about it. Seriously. I find myself thinking, "Are you freaking kidding me? BULKY?! Do you KNOW how hard I've worked in the last year and a half-- 4 days a week, EVERY week of HEAVY lifting to try to get stronger?! BULKY?! I wish!"
Let me try to calmly walk through this with you. Women have to try very hard to get bulky. Why? Because we do not have copious amounts of testosterone in our body. Those women bodybuilders that win the big shows-- you know, the ones who look like men? Well, they look like men because they're taking male hormones. Note the deep voices and the jaw line. They aren't bulky because they are lifting heavy weights; they're bulky because they're injecting testosterone and lifting heavy weights.
Now, if by "bulky" you mean fat... well, let's talk about that. Lifting heavy weights may make you gain weight. I hear this comment often, "I've started working out, and I've GAINED weight!" People all the time respond with, "Oh, that's ok-- muscle weighs more than fat, so you're probably gaining muscle." I hate that comment. First of all, a pound is a pound-- an lb. of muscle = an lb. of fat. But that's semantics-- what they mean is a pound of muscle is denser-- takes up less space-- than a pound of fat. However, it's very hard to gain a pound of muscle let alone the 5 or so people lament to gaining in a week or two of lifting. Actually, it's proven to be impossible to gain more than a few pounds of muscle in a month.
So, why are people gaining weight when they begin weight training? My theory-- 1) they greatly overestimate the calories they're burning; 2) they greatly underestimate the calories they're consuming; and 3) they "reward" themselves with treats for the hard work they're doing. OR they've added extra work (stress) on the body without also adding the recovery that they need, and the body is reacting by retaining water.
Here's what will happen if you begin lifting heavy weights:
1. Your appetite will increase. If you're trying to gain weight, then increase your calories. If you're trying to lose body fat, be sure you're eating the proper balance of macronutrients and continue eating the same amount of calories. If you aren't sure about calories and macronutrients, then use an app such as My Fitness Pal to help.
2. You will develop muscle. Notice I didn't say bulk. Thanks to heavy squats and deadlifts, I now actually have a butt instead of a flat slope at the end of my back. And my quads just really don't fit into my jeans anymore. This is not a bad thing.
3. Your metabolism will increase. Adding muscle will help speed up your metabolism.
4. Build stronger bones. Not only will your muscles develop and become stronger, but also your bones will become stronger to carry the extra muscle.
5. You can lower your risk for diabetes. A study shows that men who lift 150 minutes a week lowered their risk for developing diabetes by 34 percent. Weight training has also been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
A few "before" and "after" pictures:
|April 2011- my first Spartan. Training was more running than lifting.|
Weight: about 120
|May 2012- before beginning a heavy lifting program|