It still boggles my mind how many women are afraid to lift weights for fear that they will become huge and look like big, hulking men. How wrong they are! I will tell you right now that the answer to the question which serves as the title of this feature is, completely, unequivocally, NO. I often speak with female clients and patients of all ages who lament the fact that they cannot get the sculpted, lean bodies they covet, despite working out regularly. The problem stems from a couple of things:
1. They do not feed their bodies properly.
2. They do not lift weights, or if they do, they do not practice a lifting regimen that would bring about the physical changes they want.
I see ladies at the gym who will jump on a cardio machine for 20 to 30 minutes of easy cardio, then, if they had an indulgent night of eating or partying, they may extend their cardio sessions for a longer period of time at the same intensity. Before or after this, they may hit a few sets of uninspired exercises with light weights. These women barely break a sweat, yet they expect their bodies to transform. I’ve got news for you: that type of workout will ensure that you remain at the same level of fitness, and over time, you will see what little conditioning you may have plummet despite all your consistency.
It is a gross misconception that by lifting light weights and taking it easy at the gym, they will avoid getting bulky and will tone their muscles. Women are built differently than men, and simply do not have the testosterone levels necessary to build significant, bulky muscle mass. You need to challenge your body and create the muscle microtears necessary to build shapely, lean muscle. That means you need to lift heavier weights and break a sweat!
There are a multitude of benefits to lifting heavier weights, which I detail below.
CURVY, LEAN MUSCLE:
When you lift heavier weights, you will be rewarded with better muscle definition. Lifting very light weights will never challenge the muscles, so the muscles will never grow. I know I have scared some ladies, but think about a woman who has great muscle tone, but is still lean and feminine. A woman like that lifts weights that are heavy enough to spark muscle growth. If you follow suit, you will end up lean and more defined without being bulky.
GREATER OVERALL STRENGTH:
By lifting heavier weights, you will become stronger, and everyday activities will become easier to perform. You will also gain more structural stability from the greater muscle density which can protect your back and your joints.
IMPROVED BALANCE, COORDINATION AND POSTURE:
By improving muscle tone through weight training, you will enjoy better balance, greater overall coordination, and better posture.
IMPROVED BONE DENSITY:
Resistance training improves bone density by stressing the bones, thus triggering bone growth. This confers a protective effect against development of osteoporosis, especially in petite women.
When you work out with heavier weights, you create tears in the muscles worked. When you do this, you expend a greater number of calories in order to repair those microtears.
LOWER BODY FAT:
Your body fat stores, particularly in the midsection, will be better utilized when you perform weight training with heavier weights.
PREVENTION OF MAJOR DISEASES:
Challenging weight training with heavier weights will reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It will also lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. In addition, your risk of diabetes and breast cancer will drop significantly.
BETTER IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTION:
Moderate exercise reduces stress, and by doing so, enables your body to produce more white blood cells to combat infection. In addition, the shift in attention from the troubles of the day while you are weight training will reduce the stress which can suppress your immune system.
Vigorous resistance training boosts endorphin (natural opiates produced in the brain) levels, which create a sense of well-being. It will also stave off depression and produce a more restful sleep.
REDUCED PMS SYMPTOMS:
As stated previously, weight training is a terrific mood elevator and regulator. It also has a positive impact on hormone levels, increasing blood levels of estrogen, growth hormone, and testosterone. This counteracts the drop in estrogen and rise in progesterone which occurs right around the time before menstruation.