I've written before about the dangers of CrossFit and why being too bendy is a risk for yogis, so you might assume that I'm trepidatious about heavy weight lifting too. In reality, I believe that the right exercise for you is the one that makes you feel the best. In this post, Erin dispels some popular myths about heavy weight lifting for women. ~Emily
I'd never picked up a weight until about two years ago because I didn't know how and, well, because I'm a girl. Generally speaking, most girls run on treadmills, do yoga, or lift only the two pound pink weights 11,000 times – not lift incredibly heavy things.
At the gym, there's a section with rows and rows of dumbbells (the individual weights that you pick up with one hand) and also barbells (the bars where you add those round weight plates). Those are the weights I'm referring to here.
My routine of heavy weight lifting includes 5 exercises squats, bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and bent-over rows.
By doing heavy weight lifting, you'll gain the most muscle (I know, I know, you're a lady who doesn't want “big muscles” – trust me, you want muscle gain and we'll get to that), burn the most calories, and work out the shortest time with the biggest results.
Myths of heavy weight lifting for women
Myth 1: Cardio will get you sexier than weight lifting
When you rely on tons of cardio for weight loss, you'll be the same you, but skinnier. You won't have a hard stomach, toned biceps, shapely calves, and sculpted buns waiting for you under the fat.
Weight lifting, on the other hand, burns more fat, more calories, and builds your entire body in the process. There'll be a new you waiting underneath all your cute squishy.
Myth 2: Cardio burns fat better
Science shows that lifting weights is actually the way to go when it comes to burning off the fat.
And there are two main reasons for it:
1. For every pound of muscle your body carries, you burn more calories per day. And it doesn't matter if you're sleeping, watching Netflix or pounding donuts – you'll burn those calories day after day. (source)
2. Your body burns calories for nearly 2 days after you’re done working out – cardio stops burning within a couple of hours. (source)
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for less work with better and longer results.
Myth 3: Heavy weight lifting causes injuries
In the moment, sure you're more likely to hurt yourself lifting 200 pounds than running on a track or using a tiny free weight. But once you learn proper form, there isn't much danger, and will carry over into your everyday life and prevent injury.
Plus, heavy weight lifting has been shown to increase bone density as well as strengthen joints – which is why older people are encouraged to lift weights. (source)
Learn the correct form slowly. Practice at home, start with no weight, have someone spot you, and read several articles about proper form and avoiding pain.
Myth 4: Weight lifting takes too much time
You've probably heard the meatheads bragging like, “I spend like 3 hours a day in the gym, bro. Like, I'm getting huuuuuge. Oh, and dude, don't forget your protein powder.”
Heavy weight lifting involves compound exercises that engage many muscle groups at once. No more exercises that activate only a single muscle!
The hubby and I lift weights for 1 hour, 3 days per week. Little time = big results.
Myth 5: It’s not feminine to lift heavy weights
There’s a new slogan making the rounds: “Strong is the new sexy.”
Who cares if it isn’t the “traditional” view of what’s feminine. I’m definitely not on the feminist bandwagon, but I do feel like women who heavy weight lift feel better about themselves and have more confidence.
And that’s definitely sexy.
Myth 6: You’ll get grossly ripped
The women who are bulging with muscle in the media are doing two things that you aren’t:
- They’re taking a ridiculous amount of supplements (and probably some of the, uh, illegal kind).
- They’re spending way too much time every single day in the gym and probably with a body building trainer.
It's commonly believed that you need to do a ton of reps at low weight to get toned. The reality is you have to build muscle to get toned – and the best way to do that is heavy weight lifting. And you won’t turn into Arnold. I promise.
Myth 7: Weight lifting decreases flexibility
If you have proper form, you won’t lose flexibility – you’ll actually gain it. (source)
My husband could barely do a squat when we started doing them because he was so inflexible. Now he can go all the way down with 200 pounds on his back.
The muscles you build are stabilizing your joints and skeletal structure, giving your more support for you to stretch.
Myth 8: Pregnant women should not lift weights
Lifting weights while pregnant has show to have reduced incidence of gestational diabetes, enhanced body image, better weight management, decreased incidence of preeclampsia, less mood swings, reduced lower back pain, and easier labor. (source)
However, I wouldn’t start a heavy weight lifting regimen while pregnant – it should be an established habit already because it’s a lot easier to injure yourself with all those crazy pregnancy side effects. Definitely talk to your OB before starting any fitness routine.
How should you get started?
I hope you're reading this article and saying, “Yeah! Girl power!”
I'd recommend first learning and practicing all the moves before hitting the gym. The exact program that we do is called 5×5 that we found at Stronglifts. I’d highly recommend downloading his free app to help you know exactly what to do.
My workouts are quick and effective. I feel stronger, empowered, accomplished, sexy, and have more energy. Let's do this ladies! This year is your year to get fit, strong, and sexy.
How do you feel about heavy weight lifting for women?
Leave a comment!
Erin and Cameron Smith, teach people how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes eating real food, eliminating toxins, and overcoming chronic illness. The secret for them has been to cook homemade substitutes of foods they like – but with healthy ingredients. Read more at Eat Real Stay Sane.