Go pick up the latest edition of your favorite glamor magazine. There’s sure to be at least one title promising a new, spectacular, quick-&-easy guide to losing fat fast and toning your muscles in a few days. They’ll also tell you that lifting heavy will bulk you up. The thing about these articles is that they’re geared toward making money from unsuspecting victims. Don’t let clever marketing trick you.
If it’s fat loss you’re after and you aren’t getting results from the treadmill, maybe something’s wrong. Think about it this way, using the elliptical or running for hours is training you for endurance, not necessarily weight loss. Lifting heavy weights (i.e. weights that make you fatigued after about 6-8 reps) is not only better for fat loss, it’s also a huge time saver. With this in mind, let’s debunk some of the most common myths of heavy lifting.
Myths That Keep Women From Lifting Heavy – BUSTED
Myth #1) Lifting heavy (and doing nothing else) will bulk me up
In order to grow muscle, you need to lift weights that are heavy enough to create micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The tears start to repair when you’re at rest. This is where the expression “no pain, no gain” came from – but this bodybuilding axiom didn’t mention one little thing.
To actually bulk up you need to eat the right amount of calories over and above lifting heavy. If you wanted to build additional muscle you’d probably need to stuff about 9,000 calories down your throat. That’s a dieting regimen of an Olympic athlete. Over and above eating like a horse (or eating a horse at every meal) if you want to grow, you need to do targeted training.
Lifting heavy and eating a normal caloric intake will create healthy looking, strong muscles, not overly exaggerated mountains. Muscle tissue is actually denser than fat, so the recipe to looking lean is decreasing fat and building a little more muscle. You won’t bulk like the Hulk if it’s not your intention.
Myth #2) Lift light to keep toned, lift heavy to bulk up
While the right mix of heavy lifting and sipping MASS protein shakes will most likely bulk you up into a balloon, using a low rep/heavy weight system is actually great for toning muscles. Choosing heavier weights and lifting slowly until depletion increases muscular endurance and strength while increasing your metabolism, which helps with fat burning. You won’t balloon to bodybuilding standards, but your muscles will start to become defined as you strengthen them and lose fat around the muscles. Working to fatigue is, therefore, the best way to get stronger.
Myth #3) Strong does not mean big
Think of contortionists, gymnasts, and rock climbers. Some of them look like they will snap like a twig, but then they shock and awe by doing handstand push-ups. How do they keep light but possess extra-human strength? Well, weight training of course. But what exactly about weight training?
When you do something often enough, your brain starts to make certain connections. So when you lift often enough, your brain will make the connection between mind and muscle. As the connection builds, you will become stronger, but not necessarily bigger. So, pick up heavy things. And when they become light, go heavier! Unless you take supplements and exceed your caloric deficit, you will become toned, not bulky.
Myth #4) Men and women should lift differently
Yes, it’s a genetic fact, men, in general, are stronger than women – but not that much stronger. Keep in mind that men also have 15-20 times more testosterone than women and will, therefore, build larger muscles and bulk up more easily.
So hitting the gym shouldn’t be about stereotypically targeting gender-specific vanity areas (chest and biceps for men, glutes, and abs for women). Each person is different and their workout plan should be specified to their individual abilities and goals, no matter if you are a man or a woman. And this plan should include strength exercises and core training.
Myth #5) Aerobics is the only way to lose those pounds
Strength training is actually a great and efficient weight loss exercise that is equal to cardio (if not better as you save time in weight training). After strength training, you get something called the “afterburn effect,” where your body is burning calories in order to rebuild torn muscle fibers for 24-48 hours after your workout. So you can lose weight even while sitting on the couch.
That being said, aerobics and just plain healthy eating will also help you lose weight. As long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, do it! Just don’t be afraid of lifting.
So, the myth is now debunked, lifting big doesn’t necessarily make you bulky. So look past the pink 3lbs and start swinging the bigger kettlebells. Just remember not to overeat if you don’t want mass.