How is your Tuesday going so far?
I was at the gym the other day and I overheard a lady talking with a friend about their fitness plan. She said something along the lines of avoiding weights because she just knows she would bulk up.
This isn’t the first time I have heard this reservation from women. I hear it all the time, in fact I was guilty of it too. Back in the day, I thought that I was suppose to stick to the cardio deck, hit up a few of the machines and leave the weights to the big boys.
I wanted to get stronger but I was afraid of looking like a steroid case. Silly me.
Here’s the thing though… strength and bulk are not directly related to each other! I know that sounds strange, right?
Trust me, I can not tell you how many “muscle heads” I’ve seen at the gym who look like they could take on The Rock, only to see them hauling up what I consider to be light weight and huffing-n-puffing the whole time.
Then I have seen the complete opposite, small framed people who look like they would barely be able to do a body weight squat, load up a barbell and go to town…
Let’s take me for example, am I bulky?
I am actually working on TRYING to bulk up a bit more.
But am I strong? I think so… I can squat and deadlift more than my weight, I can do pull-ups, chin-ups and even bench press with 40 lb dumbbells (might not be a lot to you, but I am pretty proud of it). But my figure doesn’t reflect that.
Because, like I said… strength and bulk are not the same.
And because of that, don’t be afraid to “woman-up” and grab weights… real weights so that you can get stronger!
What woman doesn’t want to be stronger? I hate asking for help, I would much rather move the couch, open jars, or carry up all the groceries without waiting for my husband.
Benefits of strength:
- Independence of being able to do things when you want, without waiting for help.
- Boost stamina
- Reduce risk of injury
- Control your weight (strength training increases metabolism like crazy)
- Increase bone density… the fear of osteoporosis has somehow motivated me to work hard now for a healthy skeleton.
- Manage and reduce back pain: since having a herniated disc since the age of 15, strength training has been my #1 treatment!
- Feeling sexy! Strong is sexy, and if anyone things otherwise, they might be lying.
- And More!
Why Bulking Won’t Happen!
Just because you lift weights, doesn’t mean you’ll turn into a body builder. There are several factors that go into “bulking”.
Yes, your muscles will likely tone up as you lift but that’s a great thing! You’ll also see your fat decrease, your waist get slimmer and your body tighter… but bulkier? Nope.
To increase muscle mass, it takes energy. Muscle doesn’t just build on it’s own after all. Even with a great workout regiment, you need to supply the body with excess calories to allow muscle building to take place.
For women, that means roughly 300 extra calories per day… for men its more like 500+ calories. If you’re not taking in the excess calories then your body doesn’t have what it needs to make more muscle.
Then there is the hormone factor, men have testosterone which is a anabolic steriod… meaning it induces muscle growth. That’s why men naturally have MORE muscle then women. That more muscle is what allows them to be naturally stronger than us, allows them to burn fat faster than us, and allows them to increase strength/size faster.
We have estrogen, a catabolic steriod… we have to fight against it to hold on to muscle and burn off fat. Stupid estrogen wants us to be a bit “soft” which makes it a bit more difficult to burn fat and add muscle. It’s a lose-win situation.
Can you get stronger without the extra calories?
If you’re not eating the extra 300+ calories, then how will you get stronger? Easily.
During intense bouts of exercise, you cause tiny tears in the muscle fibers. Even without the extra caloric intake, those tears still have to repair themselves. Just like a broken bone ends up stronger after recovery, so do muscles. The repair process makes the muscles stronger and ready for the next intense session.
Getting Strong 101 For Women
Weight training machines are my nemesis. Far too many people assume that because they take up so much space at their gym then they must be where it’s at for strength training.
But really they stink. I won’t go into all the details today, you can read more about them here.
What I will say, is that to get stronger you have to get out of your comfort zone and train harder. If you’re new to weights that means starting with body weight moves like squats, lunges, push-ups, etc and then as your form becomes more confident moving up to the dumbbells and other weights.
If you’re already comfortable with weight training moves, the next step is to move up! Slide another plate on the bar, grab the next dumbbell, etc. Do not let fear of bulking stop you from progressing. Doing so will keep your body exactly where it is right now.
If you want change, you have to make it happen.
Last, if all of this sounds a bit intimidating ask for help! Check out the Torched in 20 program on the right (made for beginners) or ask someone at your gym to show you how to execuate moves properly. Proper technique is key, so don’t assume you know what you’re doing.
Okay, now if you’ll excuse me… I gotta go get my own lift on! Dan and I recently started stuying olympic lifting so I am excited to head to the gym and see if I can “woman-up” and do some new moves.
-Do you strength train?
-Have you ever been afraid of bulking up?