How many times have you heard..... “but you're a girl..... wont lifting weights make you bulky?”
As a dancer who also strength trains I hear this a lot and if this annoying sentence irritates you just as much as it does me, then read on and learn about why we actually train this way and what awesome benefits it brings along with it. I know from my experience, it has definitely improved my performance in the dance studio. I can jump higher, hit my movements stronger and faster and it has improved my stamina tremendously.
Because of the“myth” that women will get “bulky” and develop unfeminine and unsightly bulging muscles, a lot of women dismiss weight/strength training and therefore miss out on all of the benefits that it brings. This is a massive misconception as high levels of oestrogen make it very difficult for women to become overly muscular. When women lift weights, the changes to the their muscles are generally related to the muscles gaining strength rather then gaining size. This results in looking leaner and firmer not bulky or masculine.
Strength training is a very important component to overall health and fitness and provides an important balance to your aerobic workouts. The following are just a few of the many benefits of strength training.
When it comes to weight loss, most people automatically start a program of cardio and unsatisfying dieting. Leaving you bored and hungry and more likely to “fall off the wagon” Strength training is usually an afterthought and thought of as something that “only the boys do”. However, strength training can burn just as much, if not more calories and fat then cardio.
Cardio is great for burning calories and fat whilst you are moving during your session, but thats where it stops. A well designed strength program will not only burn calories and fat during your sessions but will keep your metabolism firing for several hours afterwards and therefore use and burn more calories while your body is recovering from the session. With consistent strength training you can turn your body into a calorie burning machine where even while you are at rest, your body is burning more calories.
So.....the good news is that a regular strength training program will help you to reduce body fat and burn calories more efficiently which can result in healthy weight loss.
Aside from the aesthetic benefits of looking leaner and firmer, strength training can aid in the rate that muscle mass diminishes as you age. As women get older, they will experience many hormonal changes and will naturally lose bone density. Unfortunately this increases the risk for developing osteoporosis however incorporating regular strength and weight training sessions in to your programming, slows bone density deterioration. This can help your bones to grow stronger, help to maintain strength and reduce your chances of developing or help slow down the effects of osteoporosis.
Another fantastic benefit of strength training is that when you build muscle, you are actively helping to protect your joints from injury allowing you to do bigger and better things on the gym floor. You will also find that your balance and co-ordination will improve, this will become increasingly important to help you maintain your independence as you age.
So as women, there is no reason to feel that we are the weaker sex, we can lift just as much as the boys do, its just a matter of how high you are going to set your goals and standards and how hard you are willing to work. The mind is primary, your body will do what your brain tells it to, and you need to train your mind just as much as you need to train your body.
Next time you are in the gym, don't be afraid to pick up some weights or if you already do, pick up one's that is a little heavier, and start pushing your self outside of your comfort zone. After all, nothing great happens there and you will probably surprise your self with how much you can actually do and lift.
Happy lifting Ladies!!!