A question I always get asked by ladies, apart from am I too old to change my body shape, is will weight lifting make me get too big and muscly. The answer to both questions is no. (I was nearly 50 when I did my first competition and 50 years old when I did my second, so its never to late to start, in my opinion, but that’s another story).
A lot of ladies have done nothing but cardio, cardio, cardio, 30-40 minutes split between the treadmill, bike and stepper followed by a lot of ab crunches. While the calories will be burned off, this type of workout is not helping you change your body shape. Your wobbly bits will be smaller, but they will still be wobbly.
Women have to work incredibly hard to build muscle, unlike men they do not have the testosterone levels that are required to build muscle mass and testosterone is the primary muscle building hormone in the body.
When I was preparing for my competitions I was doing 9 lifting sessions per week. I didn’t run once.
A lot of calories have to be eaten to build muscle, imagine if you had to overeat by 9,000 calories to put on 1kg of muscle (not all in one sitting, of course), but a lot of ladies are not eating enough to maintain their current body weight.
You also have to work extremely hard during your weight lifting workout, every single time, always pushing yourself through and beyond your comfort zone. When your muscles start burning and you know they are tearing can you push on and go harder?
I’m not at all saying that women cannot work hard in their training, they can and do – but it’s a lot harder to build muscle for us than it is for men, so unless you go to the extreme with the intention to build muscle, you’re lifting sessions will never make you look manly.
So why should us ladies lift then? I always tell my ladies that through nutrition and exercise we are looking to shed the fat and at the very least preserve the muscle that is already there, but ideally we are looking to increase the muscle mass, (remember this doesn’t mean you’ll look like a bodybuilder),
and get a firmer, stronger and leaner looking you. This is also why scale weight alone should not be an indicator of progress. Fat loss and muscle gain will balance each other out. Looking in the mirror, and being aware of how your clothes are fitting is the best indicator of change.
Working with weights will increase your metabolic rate, and it will continue to be increased for some time after your training session. Creating the tiny tears in the muscles will require a greater number of calories post workout to repair them, and the more muscle you have the more calories your body requires. A higher metabolic rate will help you get lean, shed the fat and get that shapely figure you want.
So, pick up those weights ladies, you won’t take a second glance at the treadmill.