April 10, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Written by Elisabeth Meany
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON…I guarantee it! You must be wondering, “How can she be so confident that throwing weights around is right for me?” The answer to that is simple. Throwing weights around is right for EVERYONE.
I hear the murmurs already. ”But I want to lose weight… I don’t want to get bulky… I’ve tried it before and I didn’t get stronger… I have injuries…I don’t know how…I don’t like it.” I could spend time refuting every one of these claims and all the other gems I’ve heard in the past, but that’s not my goal here. The purpose of this post is to try and change your perception on weight training, and show you how and why it will change your body, self-image, and ultimately, your life.
Rather than throw the scientific stuff at you first, I’m going to start with a personal anecdote. When I was a sophomore in college, I decided that I was going to get in-shape. Somehow I had escaped the dreaded “Freshman 15,” but then I went home and gained a few pounds over the summer. Once fall rolled around I was ready to shed those extra pounds and I it did the only way I knew how—through a ton of cardio. I took kickboxing classes, step aerobics, and spent hours on the elliptical. Sure enough, it only took about 6 weeks for me to lose the weight I had gained, plus a couple extra pounds. I was feeling thin and the hours of cardio I put in had certainly made my heart super-strong. Lugging my backpack up and down stairs and over the rolling hills on campus didn’t even cause my heart to beat faster. But yet, I still wasn’t happy with my body. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt like I looked exactly the same as I did a few months earlier, just a smaller version.
It wasn’t until after I graduated in 2006, that I discovered weight training. I had dabbled in the past—I knew what squats and lunges were and I knew how to do bicep curls and shoulder presses—but I had never consistently weight trained for any period of time. I started hitting the weight room with my dad about 5 days per week, and the changes were astounding. My weight wasn’t changing, but my body took on a completely different shape. I dropped another clothing size, my thighs slimmed out, my arms toned up, and I had abs! And not those hungry-girl, concave-belly abs…no, I had real muscles! It finally clicked—I NEEDED weight training to CHANGE the shape of my body. The cardio kept the number on the scale down, but the weights allowed me to mold my body. I was hooked.
I’m going to keep the science stuff to a minimum here, because I know that most of you will breeze over it anyway (yada, yada, yada, how does this apply to ME?) Besides, there are a million other sites out there that will break it down better than I can for those of you who are interested. Very simply, by starting a consistent weight training program, you are going to develop lean muscle tissue. This is important for several reasons: (1) lean muscle tissue burns more calories than fat—ultimately you want your body burning calories even when you are at rest—you can accomplish this through building muscles; (2) lean muscle tissue takes up wayyyy less space than fat—have you ever looked up a photo of 5 pounds of muscle vs. 5 pounds of fat…go ahead do it…it will blow your mind.
Ladies, weight training will NOT make you bulky. Let me repeat: WEIGHT TRAINING WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY. You know those women you see with huge muscles and veins popping out all over the place? They take massive amounts of supplements (ahem, steroids) to look like that. Female bodies lack the testosterone to naturally produce giant muscles like that. A woman has to be very deliberate about wanting to put on that much muscle mass. It doesn’t just happen through moderate weight training a few times per week. Unless you are consuming copious amounts of protein, creatine, steroids, or some other mass-building supplement, you are NOT in danger of developing a body that looks like that. I promise.
Weight training will, however, allow you to change your body’s shape. Dislike those flappy chicken wings you’ve got going on? Tone ‘em up with some tricep work! How about the pancake-butt you wish were a little higher and rounder? Try some weighted squats! The answer to some of the things you dislike about your body isn’t more cardio…and it definitely isn’t plastic surgery. The answer you’re looking for is probably in the weight room. This same advice applies to men out there too. Are your pecs looking more like man-boobs (moobs) lately? That’s okay. Grab some dumbbells and hit ‘em with some chest flyes.
Some people will argue that you don’t ever need to do cardio again, and that weight training is the only thing you should do to stay in shape. I take a different approach. Depending on what your goals are, and what shape your body is currently in, I think you need BOTH cardio and strength training. For one, it will beat the boredom. Nothing is worse than knowing you’ve got 6 days of treadmill jogging to get through each week—blah. On the same hand, 6 days of weight training will likely leave you sore, bored, and set you up for a plateau. A good mix of strength training AND cardio will leave you feeling fit as a fiddle, and your self-confidence will soar because I guarantee your body will change if you put in the work.
By following a good strength training program, I can guarantee that your life will improve in many ways. I already touched on how your self-confidence will improve. Everyday tasks like vacuuming, unloading groceries, carrying the baby up the stairs, etc. will seem much less taxing. You know that dull, aching pain in your lower back? I would be willing to bet that will disappear as your core strength improves. Not to mention the fact that weight training will improve your bone density and balance—making you much less injury-prone.
While I would love to be able to create the perfect program for each and every one of you, that’s impossible without knowing your goals and current state of fitness. Hopefully this post has piqued your interest enough to seek more information. If you’re new to weight training and have no clue about proper form, ask a friend or a trainer to help you out, or spend some time on YouTube familiarizing yourself with basic exercises.
Feeling strong is such a boost to the soul—I want everyone to experience this feeling for themselves. Being able to change the shape of your body is empowering, challenging, and fulfilling. Give it a try…I promise you won’t be disappointed.