I wrote this for a friend of mine and some ladies she trains. I figured I’d post it here, because I spent some time writing it for the specific audience. I’m not saying there will be droves of women wanting to lift after I post it, but if you have any friends that should see it, print it out and show them.
Hi. I’ve heard that you are starting or thinking about starting a new exercise program. Your new exercise program may be CrossFit, P90x, boot camp, or any related intensity based conditioning activity. Your goals in starting this program will probably revolve around wanting to be sexy, healthy, and physically able to enjoy an active lifestyle. I commend you on your choice because it’s the first step in achieving those goals. Your program choice may even be the gateway to sport and/or athletic activity. In any case, there is a lot to learn regarding what is best to achieve your goal, because, well, conventional wisdom hasn’t been truthful to you.
Since you are investing time and money into an exercise program I’ll have to assume you are decently serious in achieving your goals. It’s perfectly fine to want to be sexier or healthier. However, “sexier” is typically interpreted as “losing weight” and “toning up”. What this ACTUALLY means is “losing body fat and having some muscle underneath it to have a nice figure”. Losing weight will just make you skinny. Skinny is not good.
Losing body fat to get sexy isn’t only about burning and eating less calories: you must alter your metabolism in the short and long term. Exercising in a way that forces your body to optimally metabolize fat and produce lean body mass is imperative for quick results. Nothing does this better than getting stronger through weight training. I realize weight training has a horrible stigma, so I’m taking the time to highlight some of the perks that lifting weights can provide on your journey to a great body and health.
None of the women I have ever coached gained body fat from lifting weights. In fact, they lost body fat while gaining muscle. This happens because lifting weights elevates your metabolism while you’re doing it AND for the rest of the day. A higher metabolism means you’re burning more calories. Doing cardio at a moderate intensity doesn’t elevate your metabolism at all after you stop doing it. High intensity based conditioning/cardio exercise has a similar, albeit lesser, metabolic effect when compared to lifting, but it doesn’t have the same strength and muscle building properties as lifting weights.
When you lift weights, you break up muscle fibers. Your body needs to repair them and improve them so they can either handle more in the future or handle that same load easier. That whole process elevates the metabolism, it makes you stronger, and it will increase the muscle tissue (a little). But you will NOT be getting bulky. You literally have one tenth the testosterone of a guy, and that means you won’t be building muscle very easily. If you haven’t been a muscular woman your whole life, why would you suddenly become “bulky” now? Unless you’re using some kind of steroids, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Lucky for you, muscle tissue is “metabolically active tissue”. This means that the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the better it will metabolize fat. Getting stronger means more muscle which means less fat. To top it off, you’ll be building muscle in your legs and rump, and this will garner positive attention from men and women alike. Whether you are skinny or a bigger gal, squatting and deadlifting shapes your booty in the most desirable way.
Lifting positively effects your metabolism for fat burning purposes and can help shape you into that appropriately curvy figure you’ve always wanted, but that isn’t all lifting is good for. More muscle mass and less body fat have tons of health implications. You’ll find that you don’t get sick as much, you’re able to handle viruses/infections easier, you won’t feel fatigued throughout the day, and you’ll start improving on all of those little tests doctors like to give you on your yearly check ups (not the gyno, the real, non-creepy doctor). Bone density will no longer be an issue because you’ll surpass the credentials for “weight bearing exercise” by training with a barbell. When you are stronger, your conditioning workouts will be more effective because you’ll be able to do more work, go faster, and/or go longer. If you are doing any of these three things, then you’re getting more worth out of the time you are exercising than you were when you were weak (i.e. you get sexier/healthier faster). If you’re going to invest the money and time, you might as well use it optimally!
Whether it be feeling better, getting in shape, looking better, or being more healthy, weight training will help get you there. As you get stronger you’ll be delighted to see your lifts increase gradually yet steadily. When you’re squatting 120 pounds, you’ll look back and think, “I used to only squat 45 lbs…I’ve come a long way.” All women who lift cite this sense of empowerment they get from lifting as an exhilarating feeling (in six months you’ll be able to lift more than most “men”). I’m not suggesting that lifting weights should be your primary training method, but when your trainer suggests or implements it, don’t give her so much hell. The fact that getting you stronger is part of her plan means you hired the right person.