Alright ladies, this post goes out to you. There are way too many misconceptions about women and weights, and I am here to set the record straight!
The honest truth is women need to lift more. We need to lift more weight and we need to lift it more times. I think the biggest hurdle to this task is that there is this belief floating around that if we lift anything heavier than those cute pink 5lb dumbbells that our muscles will suddenly explode into manly bicep bulges. Ladies, I can promise you that not matter how much you lift, no matter how perfect your nutritional timing and no matter how many gym trips per week you make, you will NEVER naturally attain that manly physique. Our bodies are simply not built in a fashion that supports that kind of muscular definition. Short of artificially pumping in some testosterone, we simply, hormonally and physically, are not capable of packing on the pounds (of muscle anyway).
And yet, that is still a fear. I can’t tell you how many women upon hearing me say lift heavier respond “I don’t want big muscles, I just want to be toned.” When I hear you say that I cringe a little bit. When you say I want to be toned, what you are really saying in the exercise world is “I want to lift heavy,” because the sad truth of it is, no matter how many times you can lift those little weights, they just won’t change your muscle definition. But why?
Our bodies work on the principle of efficiency. We strive for an equilibrium in our life the way our body strives for it in its daily function. If you sit around all day, your body will start burning fewer calories because it doesn’t NEED as many calories for inactivity. If you start lifting 5lbs a day for bicep curls, your body will adapt to that 5lbs until it feels easy. Whatever challenge you place before it, your body will respond accordingly, so why not REALLY challenge it?
Let’s go back to this muscle building thing. The way to build muscle is to overload it. If you only do workloads that you know you can do with ease, your muscles don’t NEED to grow. If you are told you NEED to run a mile, are you really going to run two? Probably not. Your body is the same way. So challenge it. If you can lift 5lbs twenty times, I bet you can lift 8lbs ten times, and ten pounds at least once. Your weight lifting goals should be to barely be able to finish 8-10 repetitions of lifting a weight (and do that 2-3 times). Work off the principle that the weights you lift should at LEAST be heavier than your purse. That’s right big purse carriers, I’m calling you out. If you walk around with a mini suitcase on your arm all day, and then pop into the gym for some light weights, you are actually getting less of a workout at the gym than you did all day! If the average purse weighs between 5 and 10lbs, that means you’ve got to exceed that weight at the gym.
Before you ask, yes I’ve read the articles that say to be toned you lift less weight more times and to build muscle you lift more weight less times. They are wrong because being tone and building muscle are the same thing. You should ALWAYS lift more weight. It’s good for your muscles to be challenged and it’s good for your bones. Building more muscle helps stabilize your joints and protect you from falls and injuries, especially later on in life.
Have I convinced you yet? We need to fight the stereotype that those cute little 1-5lbs weights are for the ladies. I love the look on a guy’s face when I reach around him to grab the 20lb dumbbells, and trust me, you’ll love it too. So if you found a happy place with what weight you like for each exercise, I challenge you to move on up. Grab the next level and sacrifice a few of those repetitions for a really good muscle burn. Oh yeah, and that soreness is a GOOD sign. When you lift heavy, you are quite literally tearing up your muscle so it is forced to rebuild stronger and better. So that lovely soreness you feel the day after is just a sign of a job well done.
So break the mold ladies and lift heavy. Challenge your body and yourself, and I guarantee you’ll love the results.