Seriously girls, weight training will not make you look bulky!
To all my fellow gym goers, (male and female), how many times have you walk into the campus gyms to see all girls on the cardio equipment and all guys in the weight section? I found this very scary when I first started weight lifting, because I was the only girl in the weight section (sometimes accompanied by two or three other girls). Of course, no one was ever mean to me, but being surrounded by meathead guys with biceps the size of my skull made me feel weak, inferior, and afraid that I wasn’t good enough to be in the gym.
I know a lot of women and girls feel this way, and it is sadly the reason why some of these people never step foot in the weight room – for fear of being judged the others.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure those meatheads are more focused on flexing in the mirror than how many pounds you are curling. But as someone who’s been there, and overcome it, I know exactly how it feels to feel like the puny little girl at the gym.
I first started weight lifting (very mediocrely and not really dedicated) about 4 years ago, but I did not get serious and stick to a routine until the past year or so. Now that I do heavy lifting 5 to 6 times a week, with 3 split days, and taking supplements, I am leaning out more and gaining more muscle mass (which is my goal).
However, I have had girls ask me questions or make comments about some of these popular misconceptions and myths about women and weight lifting.
Here are some of the most common myths I have heard, and why they are wrong:
#1 “If I lift weights, I am going to get huge!”
Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer, Tracy Anderson, does not allow her to pick up anything over 3 pounds in the gym, because she does not want her client to get “bulky”. As a personal trainer, and a lover of weight lifting, this makes me cringe, but it also makes no sense. What about activities of daily living (picking up a child, carrying in groceries from the car, or really picking up anything that is over 3 pounds)?
I am going to say this nice and loud for the people in the back:
YOU WILL NOT GET “BULKY” FROM PICKING UP HEAVY OBJECTS!
Unless you start taking an anabolic steroid, you don’t have to worry about looking like John Cena anytime soon.
Do you ever see those female bodybuilders on Instagram? They eat, sleep, breathe, and repeat training and supplements, which is why they look incredibly fit and muscular. This is something that they have been trying to achieve for years, and definitely will not happen to you by going to Planet Fitness three times a week.
Trust me, you will only get huge muscles unless you WANT to get huge muscles.
When you pick up heavy objects (i.e. weights), your muscle fibers break down and become stronger when they repair. Just because your muscles are getting stronger, this does not necessarily mean that they are getting BIGGER. Unlike men, women do not produce enough testosterone to build the kind of muscle mass that is associated with this “bulky” look. Unless you start accidently taking testosterone and eating more calories than you are expending, you’re in the clear.
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#2 “Doing cardio is the only way to lose weight.”
Although cardio is necessary for cardiovascular health, it should not be the only part of your workout regime.
If you are one of those people who hates running, you still need to do your cardio, but make sure to head over to the weights when you’re done!
Weight training raises your metabolism, thus you burn more calories just by being alive (with respect to someone who only goes cardio training). Losing weight is all about calories in versus calories out.
If you are lifting weights, and eating a calorie deficit (of the right foods), then your muscles will get stronger, and you will also burn the fat on top of your muscle. This is known as the “toned” look that people strive for.
What people use as the word “tone” is simply decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.
Moral of the story: Get off the elliptical (but don’t skip it)!
#2: “I won’t fit into my clothes anymore if I start lifting.”
I would be lying if I said that all of my clothes pre-lifting fit me today. I am also a different case than someone who is just starting out, because have increased my weight a lot over the years, and I recently started taking supplements to increase this.
This will not be the case for the average 3 days a week gym goer. Again, it all depends on your goals. I WANT to have big muscles, so it is normal that I can’t find jeans that go over my quads, or shirts never fit me in the shoulders or arms.
Yes, your clothes will not fit you the same way they fit before, because by losing fat, will you take us less room. If you were to compare 5 pounds of muscle to 5 pounds of fat, the fat would take up more room because more of it is needed to equal the heavy weight of muscle.
Moral of the story: You will not rip your shirt when you flex (unless you really want to).
#3: “I will get heavy, and I don’t want the scale to go up.”
First of all, no one knows the stupid number on that scale except for you. At the end of the day, you are more than a number! Who cares what the scale thinks? F*** the scale!
Second of all, since muscle weighs more than fat, if you are increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat, you may still see the number increasing on the scale. Ways to measure your #NonScaleVictory is by seeing how you fit into clothes that used to be too tight on you, measuring the inches around different parts of your body, and progress pictures!
Unless you are extremely overweight and have a lot of weight to loose, the scale is not exactly a great way to measure progress (especially when you are weight training).
Personally, I am at the leanest and best shape I have ever been in my entire life and I weigh 155 pounds. This is 15 pounds heavier than when I was a cardio junkie, starving myself, and at the peak of my eating disorder years ago. The scale isn’t everything.
Morale of the story: F*** the stupid scale
Seriously ladies, go into that weight room, strut your stuff, show the boys what you’re made of, and more importantly, BeElite!