You've probably heard it multiple times from other women that they fear weight lifting because it's going to make them "bulky", "big" or "buff."
I'm going to join the choir and say, "It's not true!"
We, as women, aren't genetically made up the way as men. It takes a lot of work to build up muscle and a lot of time. Like, a lot of time, depending on where you're starting from and what you're goals are for fitness and weight loss.
However, let me share with you what is true about resistance training, specifically for you boss ladies out there reading this so you can get more incentive on adding it to your workout regimen!
Let's start off with some important fundamental concepts about strength training. But first, a quote from his book, "The Resistance Training Revolution" by Sal Di Stefano.
"I was shocked when I read this statistic from a recent large study: 60 percent of American adults are not doing the one activity that can most effectively save them from obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain, premature aging, depression, anxiety, and life-crushing illnesses. They are not doing the one activity that best assures them an attractive, fit body and a happy, healthful, and youthful life."
Sounds super crazy doesn't it? How so many people could be putting in the work to prevent or even improve/reverse a lot of the metabolic problems that plague their life? I hate to say it, but a lot of our health issues (not all of them) are self-inflicted for a majority of us -unless you fall into a category where you're the exception. I'm talking about the ones who have control and power over being able to change this and they're not doing anything about it.
Our society heavily endorses and perpetuates the solution in the form of a bottle filled with prescription drugs and pills.
This isn't healthy and sustainable, and if anything, it just plasters a pharmaceutical band-aid one what needs to be addressed at the root core of it all.
If this isn't at least a starting reason to get you propelled into the direction of wanting to change and take charge of your health and fitness status, especially for long-term gains, then perhaps the following tips will also help to drive the nail home.
1. IMPROVED STRENGTH WHICH REINFORCES AND FORTIFIES ALL MUSCLES, TENDONS, LIGAMENTS AND TISSUES
When it comes to resistance training, I like to try and challenge myself in a very dynamic way as much as possible.
This means moving my body not just in a rigid, linear manner chronically all the time, but in a very diverse way so that I am trying to move on different planes, etc. We want at least a majority of our workouts to somehow mimic or translate in a healthy way to real life functionality. We don't just move in a linear, stiff fashion all day. If we did that wouldn't be good for our bodies. We want to try and incorporate unconventional approaches of training and exercising so that we cover as much ground as possible.
Resistance training in all its forms and approaches allows for a fortifying effect on all the muscles, tissues, ligaments, bones and tendons in our body so that they are strengthened and help us to do what we need to do. The great thing is how diverse you can be with it also.
We enhance our performance and also get even better at the movements we are trying to execute, but it also means we can be assured that as we train, every part of our body is getting more robust and resilient.
2. REDUCES INJURY
Which leads into our next vital point.
When you're strengthening and fortifying your body with all it's muscular makeup, you are also leaving it in a place where you're less prone to injury.
To get injured means you're setting yourself back and negatively impacting your body in a way that no one wants to have happen. We can mitigate this only so much of course, but the point still stands that if we can really minimize chance of getting hurt by training properly, with good form and technique, and mind-body awareness, enhancing the quality of our physical strength and resilience, we can continue working out and training and living life optimally without the unwanted inconvenience of having to recover from an injury.
3. INCREASED MUSCLE-TO-FAT RATIO
C'mon ladies, who doesn't want this?! Gain more muscle (no not get bulky and buff) and have less fat? Yes please!
When it comes to resistance training, it is king in burning fat, increasing muscle (muscle is heavier but takes up less space, and fat has more "volume" in how much it takes up in the body; a point that Sal Di Stefano discusses well in a recent podcast on High Intensity Health on Youtube when trying to address the topic of why most women get nervous about the idea of weight training).
Most women are not always looking to gain a huge amount of muscle. The terminology they like to use is "tone up", but realistically there's not really any such thing as toning up with resistance training if you really think about it long enough.
Muscles either shrink or grow (atrophy or hypertrophy). So in essence, I get where they're coming from when they say "tone" as I have also used that term multiple times in the early years of my own fitness journey, but really you learn that it's about growing muscle to your desired size.
Physiologically everyone is going to look different when they build muscle also, so we have to keep in mind, for example, that my natural genetic makeup of my body in terms of height and limb length is certainly going to make me look different than someone else, even if we both have a nice amount of muscle mass but it's distributed differently on our bodies. We can weight the same, but appear a lot different.
So, the basic point to draw here is, less fat, more muscle, equals stronger and healthier body! And this isn't just about looking better, but feeling better. The more muscle you build, the more your body becomes efficient at fighting off chronic ailments that consistently plague our society that can 99% of the time be prevented and avoided.
Which leads me to my next point.
4. PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASES
I think society has gotten so accustomed to living in an unhealthy state, it doesn't really know what it feels like to be healthy anymore. They don't really know what they're missing out on, or they're just too demoralized or undisciplined to put in the work and make true, transformational change in their life.
Chronic illnesses and ailments in the body drag and weigh us down and our life quality simnifically decreases, and no one truly wants this deep down.
It can be a hard cycle to get out; a scary one. But it's so necessary. Resistance training helps make this happen. Here's why.
When you're building muscle, and burning fat, overall making your body a strong functional pillar of health, it empowers your immune system to fight off disease, have more energy, and function on a cognitive level on a whole new front!
Resistance training fuels countermeasures against chronic ailments in that firstly, it fights against insulin resistance and things like inflammation in the body. It also deflects the negative effects of stress as well as high blood pressure. It combats obesity because the more fat you accumulate on the body is leaving you susceptible to a plethora of more oncoming health complications, including the fact that your joints and mobility will greatly suffer. It improves sleep, and enhances cognitive function. In terms of getting into finite details of the specifics, I'll leave a wonderful informative tool below.
Here's a more compact resource full of more in-depth information and insight on the specifics of how resistance training and exercise help to war against disease:
5. INCREASE IN BONE DENSITY
When muscle grows, bone grows. This is a fact when it comes to resistance training.
How? Muscles grow under stress loads, like working out. In the same way, your skeletal structure (bones) is also being a recipient of that stress load which in turn sends signals for propelling bone-forming cells into action as well. Your bones get stronger and denser as your muscles also get stronger and denser in the process and both the systems benefit off stress loads. The more stress your body adapts to, the more it will stimulate growth and resilience to accommodate the continual stress loads you place on it. A Harvard study proves this and elaborates this amazing fact.
This is why there is such heavy advocates for resistance training even as you get older, if not more so, because of this one major benefit to combat osteopenia and osteoporosis -most common in women.
Keep in mind that while you are placing increasing demands on muscle growth as well as bone growth, it's going to require you to also fuel it adequately through nutritional means. If you expect to lose weight, pack more lean muscle mass while also directly benefiting your bone density, your body needs the necessary building blocks to make that happen, so be sure have that accounted for.
6. IMPROVED POSTURE AND MOBILITY/BALANCE
Strength training makes your muscles stronger and more resilient and functional. This also means that it's going to help reinforce all other muscles it works in conjunction with and as long as you're having a well-rounded resistance training routine, and don't have to worry about over-compensating imbalances in the body where the structural balance isn't asymmetrical, then your posture is going to greatly benefit also.
Resistance training creates your body into a strong pillar of balance, coordination, strength and better carriage in the way you hold your body -whether sitting or standing. If you have weak muscles, they can't do their job properly. This is something I still somewhat struggle with and have been working on a lot to improve. If you have a set of weak muscles in various places, other muscles are going to take on the responsibility to overwork themselves to compensate for the slack the other muscles are giving out because you're not addressing it.
It has a lot to do with the fact that when you're strengthening and working your muscles appropriately, they're correctly reinforcing the joints and therefore creating an internal environment of stability that allows your body to be aligned and used the way they're meant to be. Chronic posture issues is going to feed into results like pain, stiffness, soreness, etc., and the more that happens, the harder it is to try and maintain proper mobility and posture because your body is not in a place to uphold that.
Resistance training and mobility are two power houses for great overall functional fitness and physical health and should be maintained consistently throughout the pursuit of an active lifestyle.
7. ENHANCED PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
The second last point I want to emphasize is the difference your performance in training will have and how this will also render into your normal everyday routine for life. Your level of functional living will elevate drastically just by practicing resistance training. It's that amazing. I can feel the major difference resistance training gives my other everyday tasks as I go about my day than if I were to neglect them and not do them at all.
Your quality of life really does get upgraded. It goes beyond just muscle.
You'll experience more confidence in yourself, boosted brain power and energy levels; it teaches you to be far more in tune with your body. It will also make you more prone to want to stick to healthy eating habits so you don't end up draining all your hard-earned efforts down the toilet.
It seriously does become a lifestyle and not just something you do on occasion and then fall off the wagon -at least for more people.
If you've been hesitant to start lifting weights and you finally give it a try and take the dive, you might find how differently you see the definition of strength and appreciate your body than before. You'll be shocked at why you maybe didn't start sooner and even get to a point where you become an inspiration to someone else to start lifting the iron and building muscle. There isn't enough to be said about the health impact resistance training can make on your life.
8. IMPROVED MIND-BODY CONNECTION
I think a lot of society has become so increasingly disconnected from their bodies.
They're so used to feeling a certain way they don't realize is actual health, or even might be functioning in a haze on auto-pilot. They have forgotten what it is to become in tune and up to pace with their intuitive sense when it comes to how they physically feel that it's become such a lost art.
Resistance training has gotten me reconnected with the practice and skill of exercising more mind-body connection through every movement, and how those movements feel and how it's interacting with my body as I perform the lifts, etc.
You can't just mindlessly perform a movement in resistance training. In order to really gain any proper benefits and rewards from this practice, you need to be engaging your mind to fire off the proper muscles, keep proper form and technique, pace yourself to whatever tempo you're doing, and also because engaging and executing it all in the right manner is crucial.
Being connected with mind-body and synchronizing them while resistance training is what's going to make you realize where you're making mistakes, where you're leaving yourself susceptible to injury, where you might not be experiencing the change or improvement you want and when you detect these things it makes it easier to adjust and fix.
In conclusion, there's obviously so much more we could say about resistance training and its positives. I'll leave it here for now, but I know that resistance training has really made a difference in my life. I hope it's also enough starting motivation for you to get started and hit the gym and start lifting some major steel!
Like a boss,