March 30, 2010
Your Best Bridal Body Part 3: Lift Weights. Big Ones.
So there’s this myth out there, and no wonder so many of us believe it, as it’s been propagated in so. many. places. Let’s get it out of the way right now: women cannot bulk up from lifting too much weight. For reals. We don’t have enough testosterone. Ergo, heavy weights are your friend, not your enemy.
You’re not going to look like those guys, mmkay?
Why heavy weights = slimmer you
The simple reason for this is that muscle burns more calories. Each pound of muscle in your body burns 35-50 calories per day, whereas each pound of fat burns about 5. So, when combined with a sensible diet (one that includes a substantial amount of protein)with a small caloric deficit, you can achieve some great fat loss results.
Okay, before I go any further I need to say that I owe EVERYTHING to the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women.
Lou Schuler, the author, does a superb job of exploding a whole bunch of myths about women and weights. He and the co-authors break down everything from why most weight machines (you know, the ones that your gym touts and that they probably have setup in some sort of circuit formation) aren’t nearly as good as free weights, to a meal/diet summary, to a full six month weight lifting program. It’s serious and it’s awesome.
How do you lift heavy weights?
Okay, so I am by no means an expert, I just do what awesome books tell me to do. So I suggest, first of all, finding a program that you can follow. New Rules of Lifting For Women (NROLFW) is a great place to start.
Where most women go wrong when it comes to weights is that we completely underestimate what we’re capable of (whereas I bet most men do the opposite!). You want to lift heavy weights. Heavy means that by the time you get to the end of your reps (usually 6, 8, 10 or 12) you are almost at failure; if someone told you you have to lift that barbell or those dumbbells one more time you wouldn’t be able to do it again with good form. That’s where you need to be. From there you should progress. Keep a log. Try to lift slightly heavier with every single workout. You will only get out of your workouts what you put in. Lift weights about three times a week, and make sure you have a rest day between lifting days.
What do you do on days when you don’t lift?
There are tons of routines that can be complementary to weight lifting. I try to work out five days a week, so that breaks down to three days of lifting and two days of something else. I like to mix it up, but lately I’ve been doing HIIT on one of those days and hot yoga on the other. Sometimes I do hot yoga on both non-lifting days, because I do HIIT on lifting days as well.
I say do whatever you like. If you don’t like it, you aren’t going to do it. So whatever it is that you like: spinning, aerobics, dance, yoga, pilates etc., do that.
The proof is in the pants.
(Oops, that sounded unintentionally dirty!). But seriously, you won’t necessarily see huge weightlifting results on the scale, that’s because, especially early on, as you lose fat you are also building muscle, so the scale might not move that much. But take your measurements. Check out how your pants fit. That’s where you’ll really see the results. Since muscle takes up less room than fat, you can technically lose fat, gain muscle, stay the same weight but get considerably slimmer. Also, weightlifting causes your muscles to retain water as they repair themselves, so don’t be startled if you jump on the scale the day after lifting and discover that you’ve gained a few pounds, it’s just water weight.
Since I started NROLFW late last fall, I’ve definitely seen serious changes in my body. My arms are slimmer. My back is nicely muscled and there’s no back fat in sight. Even my thighs, which are definitely my least favourite body part, are showing some nice tone and looking far less thick. The jeans that used to be snug can now come off without me even undoing them. So yeah, it’s definitely working.
Don’t be afraid of getting into the weight room with all the men, be proud of being brave enough to be there and strong enough to lift those weights.