This is a topic that I’ve heard so much that it’s haunting me in my dreams. So today, once and for all, we’re putting this issue to rest.
LIFTING WEIGHT WILL NOT MAKE YOU BIG. LIFTING HEAVY WILL NOT MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE A MAN. YOU AREN’T GOING TO GET BULKY.
What I can tell you, though, is that just using the treadmill, the elliptical, or jogging outside is doing nothing for your appearance aesthetically. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again…if all you’re doing is running, running, running, then all you’re going to accomplish is running that tush right off. Forget “getting toned”. Here’s what you might just get though: SKINNY FAT.
Definition (from the dictionary of Chelsy) Skinny Fat: a person having the appearance of being thin, but in reality they have little to no muscle mass and a higher body fat percentage. This type is usually accompanied by love handles and/or lower belly fat. This person’s appearance is deceiving when fully clothed, but reality is uncovered when clothing is removed.
(Sidenote: Anyone remember the meme that floated around after Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performed their infamous duet during the 2013 MTV VMA’s? If you don’t remember this, Google it. It’s a good visual for this topic. Unfortunately for Miley, the photos are less than flattering.)
So, what exactly am I getting at? Well, I’m trying to tell you that it’s ok to lift weights as a female. I absolutely promise you, that as a woman, you will not ever look manly from lifting weights. However, you will reap so many rewards from it that you’ll be asking yourself why you didn’t start sooner. Weight training has been proven to help women (and men) strengthen their bones, thus staving off bone loss. What other benefits does weight/strength training have for you (not just women here either)? Here’s a few:
- Helps with balance and coordination, and improves posture (goodbye sore and hunched back)
- Increases endorphins (as with any exercise), thus it’s considered a great mood booster
- Metabolism booster
How is strength training a metabolism booster?
Essentially a pound is a pound is a pound…so a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle. But, fat and muscle have different energy requirements, meaning that it requires more energy to burn a pound of muscle than a pound of fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the higher your muscle to fat ratio, the higher the amount of calories burned. Typically people who are more muscular have a higher basal metabolic rate, which means they burn more calories even at rest. This could be an explanation of why most men have an easier time losing weight than women. Fact: most men have higher muscle to fat ratio than most women. I suppose it’s just the nature of the beast, evolution, whatever you want to call it. Men were created differently (as if we didn’t already know that?!)
This actually leads me right into another reason why women aren’t going to “get too big or bulky” from lifting weights. Just as men were created with more muscle than women, they also have more of a little thing called testosterone. Women do actually naturally create a small amount of this hormone which is responsible for many things in the body including contributing to building muscle mass. So since testosterone is a major player in building muscle mass, my point is driven home that since women produce a significantly lesser amount than men, they are unable to naturally become bulky and muscular from lifting heavy weights. Worry not ladies, your body chemistry has made it almost impossible for you to get manly. Now the decision you have to make is, “do I pick up the 5lb or the 15lb dumbbells”? I’m hoping that at this point, the choice is crystal clear. Plus, most men that are looking to build more muscle mass are also eating in a caloric surplus. To most females, this is an evil word. Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to assume that females usually tip more towards the caloric deficit end of the spectrum. More often than not, you hear women saying things like “I’m on a diet” or “I’m restricting my calories”. This alone will sabotage any efforts of gaining muscle mass. You want to build a better musculature? Then you better not be afraid to pick up the fork. (And let me just remind you that it doesn’t mean downing everything in sight. This method would be considered a “clean” bulk.)
You want to get toned? You want to have a little definition? You don’t want to continue being skinny fat? Then get your ass to the weight room. Then get your self to kitchen and work on your food prep skills. You must eat to live, but you’re also going to need to eat to grow, and in this case I mean “tone” since we don’t want to get too big, right? While we’re at it though, I have a question for you. Why are you afraid of getting too big? Let me guess…society has driven it into females that we should be slender, feminine, and fragile. Am I right? What we really need to do is change that thinking altogether. If a women wants to get toned, get fit, or hell even get too big, then she should do it. Make yourself and your own body happy before you try to conform to social norms to please someone else. There’s not a thing wrong with a man who spends time working on his physique. The same should go for females. Be strong. Do what makes you happy. And in the end, if you’re happy then who the hell cares if you’re too big? You’ll always be too big, too little, too much for someone. Let’s just be enough for ourselves.