As you might have noticed, the name of my blog is “Curl Like a Girl.” Stereotypically, women tend to lift very light weights due to the fear of getting bulky, but let me tell you, lifting heavy weights is NOT going to turn you into The Hulk. Women just don’t have the testosterone to support that. I’ve been lifting heavy for several years and I STILL don’t have the amount of muscle I wish I had. To build muscle, you also have to be eating…A LOT! You have to eat over your maintenance calories to build any decent amount of muscle and this is usually somewhere over 2000 calories a day for most women. Light weights aren’t going to do crap for you. If you want to have that sleek, toned, bikini model look, lifting heavy weights is going to be the best way to get there, especially if you don’t necessarily have the genes of Gisele Bundchen.
The word “heavy” is an awfully vague term though. One weight could be extremely heavy for one person, while the same weight could just be a warm-up for someone else. Regardless of what the actual weight is, if you can lift it more than 8 times it’s probably not heavy enough to put adequate stress on your muscles to see any results. If you think about it, many of us girls carry HUGE purses that weigh much more than 3lbs. Do you have amazing boulder shoulders from carrying these bags? No, you don’t. So why would you think that curling 3lb. dumbbells would do absolutely anything for you? Ladies, you’re much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You carry babies, groceries, and God knows what else, so you sure as Hell have the strength to push around some iron. If you need some additional reasons to lift real weights, here’s a nice little list of the benefits of strength training (especially for women) that you can ponder.
1. Increased Metabolic Rate. This is especially important for us girls who feel we have a little bit of pudge to lose.
2. Increasing and restoring bone density. I don’t know if you heard, but Gwyneth Paltrow now has osteopenia, the early stages of osteoporosis. She is also an avid supporter of the celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who has Gwyneth on a diet of approximately 950 calories a day and has her training with EXTREMELY light weights, high reps, and cardio 2 hours a day. Wrong answer. Trainer Graeme Thomas covers the story here.
3. Increased lean muscle mass. More lean muscle mass = more calories burned a day, even while at rest!
4. Injury prevention. ‘Nuff said. This is especially important as we age.
5. Improved balance. Again, this is especially important as we age.
6. Decreased risk of coronary disease. Heart disease is one of the highest killers of women in America today. Strength training has the ability to reduce blood pressure and quite possibly cholesterol.
7. Aids in rehabilitation and recovery. I swear my husband is always doing physical therapy on himself to aid in little injuries he gets from training and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Strengthening the muscles around joints is the best way to protect and heal from an injury. This is a good opportunity to take advantage of light weights and higher reps.
8. Enhanced performance in sports, exercise, and just general life. You’ll notice quickly that life just becomes a little bit easier when you start lifting weights. I pick up loads of boxes every day at work at the amazement of others. But seriously, they just don’t feel THAT heavy compared to the weights I push around in the gym!
9. Aging gracefully. I couldn’t tell you how many images of women I have seen that prove this. Enhancing your muscles and losing body fat really helps to prevent sagging. Fit women just look so much younger than they really might be! Just look at 51-year-old Tosca Reno!
10. Feeling better and looking better! I love feeling accomplished, secure, and strong after a hard session of training in the gym, but I also love my body and the positive changes I’m seeing. The compliments I receive on a daily basis are a great boost to my self-esteem and help to keep pushing me every day. Remember, you’re not going to turn into The Hulk (unless you really want to…and you work HARD for it…and possibly start “juicing”). But, you might just turn into She-Hulk! Hot!