By now you’ve heard that weight training is good for you. It’s not breaking news. People have known this for decades. Haven’t you seen the pictures of Marilyn pumping iron?
Like it or not, strength training is part of the FIT Equation. The FIT Equation is one part cardio endurance, one part strength, one part flexibility, resulting in a well rounded physical regimen.
A common complaint or concern many women have concerning strength training is that it will make them “bulk up”. And hey, I get it. I’ve been one of them. I’ve touched on my horrible weight lifting experiences before. I’m not going to shame anyone who is freaked out by the weight room. I understand where you’re coming from. I lived it!
Let’s recap some of the sh!t that happened to me. Hmmm, well there was the time I had a job that paid for employees to take a weight training class with a trainer. The trainer was nice but a quintessential bodybuilder. The heavier the better and he didn’t even seem to care when I was practically lifted off the floor using an upper body machine I still don’t know the name for. Needless to say, I decided to skip those group sessions after that.
Next up was when I took a weight lifting class at my gym. NO.NO.NO! I threw my back out of alignment, causing me to lose sensation in my fingers and experience major headaches. On top of that, I built muscle that I didn’t find sexy or confident boosting at all and it was a pain in the ass to get rid of it.
Now you know my ghost of weight lifting past. But there are some good stories too.
When I went to a chiropractor to have my back fixed from that class, he told me that there wasn’t some rule that everyone had to lift to get strong. He pointed out that yoga, Pilates, and pretty much anything that created a resistance had benefits, and with my build it was clear I was more suited toward the exercises that incorporated strength training with flexibility training. Interesting.
Even more interesting, however, is when I began to correspond with trainer Taylor Ryan. I told Taylor of my ability to gain muscle easily and how I was about to shoot myself because everywhere I went people kept saying it was impossible for women to gain muscle. Obviously, anyone who is a careful reader and listener knows this makes no sense, because why tell women to lift if “they can’t” build muscle? Taylor was kind enough to make this great video for me, explaining how 80 percent of women genetically don’t have what it takes to gain a huge amount of muscle with ease. However, the remaining 20 percent do, and I may be part of that.
Furthermore, when you compare a ripped women to a man, you’re going to notice a difference. Of course we’re not going to look like dudes. We’re a completely different sex! Somehow, people have interpreted this as women being incapable of becoming muscular. All you have to do is buy a muscle magazine, go to a bodybuilding/fitness show, or check out Tumblr to see that this is not true. Women, combined with the right diet and training program, can naturally become ripped. Please review the evidence:
There isn’t anything wrong with looking like these women. They’ve worked hard for their bods and should be commended. But not everyone wants to look like this, and for many women, vanity is a big motivator in getting to the gym. It’s just an ugly truth.
I’ve written countless posts about the benefits of strength training and I’m still a believer. A little after getting recommendations from Taylor, I began creating my own weight training program. I even blogged and took pictures. The thing I’ve learned is the old cliche is true: One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to fitness. It took me awhile to find a strength training program that made me strong and gave me the look I wanted. You may be in the same boat.
And while studies have shown that you don’t have to lift heavy to reap the benefits of strength training, lifting heavy may be what you need to see the results you want. You really won’t know until you try. YOU.HAVE.TO.BE.WILLING.TO.TRY!
A recent post went up on Tribesports.com, from Nia Shanks, a trainer and advocate of women lifting heavy. Shanks writes about the importance of keeping your weight routine challenging, even if it means reaching for heavier weights. And she’s right. If your workout is feeling easy, you need to beef it up. It’s probably what you need to see the results you want. I had flat abs for years but they weren’t defined. My boyfriend convinced me start ab training with weights and the results were ridiculous! I had little muscle nuggets. You know, the individual packs of muscle you get when you’re creating a 4 or six-pack? And as time has gone on-and my strength has increased-I can crunch with 50 pounds. Pretty impressive, huh?
If you think lifting heavy is the route you need to take, there’s a challenge to help you out.
It took me awhile, but including strength training into my routine was one of the best things I’ve ever did. I’m still a cardio queen, but the weights have given me the extra edge I was looking for all those years. My best advice is to figure out what works best for YOU! Everyone-except me, of course:)-thinks they’re an expert on the subject and that you have to do exactly what they say. But every body is different and what works for one person may not do squat for you. Like I said before, you have to try different routines, weights, reps and everything in between to find your ideal program. And while it may sound daunting now, it’s far worth it in the end.
How do you feel about strength training? Are you doing it? What kind? Are you lifting heavy or do you stick to lighter weights? Let me know.