OK so I am a former dancer. I did ballet for 20 years and after I stopped dancing I was a cardio bunny. I would run 5-6 miles a day or get on the elliptical for 30-45 minutes…maybe lift a little weights after. Not anymore! I’m not sure why I never got really into lifting until the past 2 years or so. I kept having recurring knee issues/illiotibial band flare ups due to weak gluteus muscles due to running so much (over 20 miles a week). I also started to have pain in a bunion on my right foot – to the point that running even a mile KILLED. This was so frustrating, depressing and I was sick of it. I decided to stop running for a few months and work on strengthening the muscles to help my IT band syndrome as well as to give my bunion a rest from the constant pounding from running. During this time I focused on lifting – heavy (and still do). It is NOW in my life that I am most confident in my body and I owe it all to lifting weights. My workouts are all focused on lifting – I include high intensity cardio a few days a week either at the end of a workout or the workout itself is high intensity (including weights), but by no means am I spending more than 10-20 (20 mins TOPS) on a treadmill or other cardio machine. I am going to list some reasons why you (women) should be focusing on lifting weights and lifting heavy (not 5-10 lbs. Pick up the heavy weights, ladies). **note that if you are new to lifting completely then it is recommended to start with lighter weight and work your way up once you gain more strength.**
- BOOST YOUR METABOLISM. In other words, accelerate fat loss. Lifting weights makes you more efficient at burning fat when NOT exercising. MUSCLES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR METABOLISM – so this means, you will burn more calories throughout the day, the more muscle you have. Ladies, the only way to get muscle is to lift weights. Cardio does not equal muscle building. Weight training does (heavy, y’all). Cardio, actually, has the opposite effect of this (too much cardio, i.e., over one hour of steady state per day). What happens when you lift iron is an increase mitochondria in cells – known as “mitochondrial biogenesis”; mitochondria are the “powerhouse”of cells. When you increase them you increase your metabolic rate/daily caloric expenditure/burn more fat. Too much cardio has the OPPOSITE EFFECT. So, if you want to be able to eat a lot (clean!), lift weights!
- You’ll increase your self-esteem. Y’all, I used to not be happy with my body! I was always struggling to stay skinny and I stressed about the number on the scale. When you forget about the scale and just focus on nourishing your body and lifting weights, I promise you will feel a million times better about yourself. You will not bulk up – I swear. I am proof of this. All lifting heavy will do is make you feel empowered, strong, and you will burn fat and build muscular curves (which are sexy!). I love the results I see in the mirror each day from the work I put in on my body. Seeing muscles forming and feeling strong all over – it’s truly the best feeling. I have scoliosis, too, and I never have back pain anymore EVER now that I lift heavy and often!! (5 sometimes 6 days per week!)
- Lifting weights INCREASES good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.
- Lifting increases insulin sensitivity – this means your body will be more efficient at using carbs for energy! This will aid the muscle building process, as opposed to storing the carbs as fat.
- STRONGER BONES & BETTER BONE HEALTH! Lack of physical activity, specifically lack of load bearing exercises, leads to osteoporosis. The BEST way to work against this AND REVERSE this is through weight training! If you want healthy bones for life (I know I sure do) you would be wise to step away from the treadmill and elliptical and hit the iron! Go sculpt the body you want! It’s so possible with weight training and eating clean.
- Lifting weights improves your libido! ***doing over 1 hour of cardio per day does the opposite*** (it’s also so boring. Seriously, who enjoys 1 hour of steady state cardio? I hate it!)
- IMPROVED SLEEP!!! I sleep great at night because I work my tail off at the gym almost every day. Weight training is also a natural alternative for people who have insomnia. Try it out. Promise you I am right!
- You won’t get bulky. Hormones are responsible for muscle growth (testosterone). Women have about 10-30 times LESS testosterone than men. Food makes you bulky, not weight training! I am proof of that! If you are lifting heavy weights (aim for repetitions between 8-12 reps with 12 being a struggle, for the most part) and eating clean food and getting sleep you will begin to sculpt the body you desire, lose fat, and gain confidence. You will not build muscle overnight. If you somehow notice that you are gaining too much muscle, you will be able to easily cut back. Most women would not fall into that category though!
- You can eat more. As though this wasn’t obvious enough! When you are lifting heavy, as previously stated, you boost your metabolism and calories burned throughout the day so you are able to eat a lot of good food! I LOVE that I can eat as much (always clean) food as I want and I eat a lot! It’s because I burn so many calories throughout the day and my body is very efficient at doing so since I lift heavy and often and have for a while now.
- Lastly, you will improve the health of your heart. Women (and men for that matter) who lift weights are less likely to get heart disease as these individuals usually have lower BMI, lower waist circumference, etc. Weight training also helps lower your blood pressure and lower your resting heart rate which is of course healthier!
Pictures below are of me – to show you how non-bulky I am! I am trying to build muscle and it doesn’t happen overnight! Train hard and eat clean y’all!