Women and weight lifting: separating the facts from the myths

Women and weight lifting: separating the facts from the myths

Hi All. I hope that you have all had a good week. How did you find my blog post from last week? Did you take on board any of the advice about body image and learning to love yourself? Was it helpful? Let me know as it would be good to know. Plus if you want any more advice around that area please let me know.

As you may know, each week I post a wellness blog in which I look at aspects of physical health or mental health, exploring ways to improve both, as well as exploring my personal fitness and wellness journey. These blogs are inspired by lived experience and available and new research. 

This week the topic of women and weight lifting has been inspired by my girlfriend Lana, and a little discussion we had over the past week about women and weight lifting. Through our discussion, I approached some misconceptions, and I wanted to share some other information with all of you. As we are approaching warmer sunnier summer days, we are all also looking at ways to improve our fitness. Through some weight lifting, I’m about to show how the ladies can get stronger, leaner and healthier. Here we go!

I am going to look at three common myths now: weight lifting, cardiovascular, and diet.

Myth 1: If a woman lifts weights, she will be big and bulky. 

You know those women bodybuilders who look really bulky? They eat, train, and take supplements specifically so they can look like that! They’ve probably been working towards that goal for years and years.

When you pick up heavy things, your muscles get stronger (but not necessarily bigger). If you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories than you are burning every day, then yes, you will get bigger and more muscular.

However, if you pick up heavy things, and eat a caloric deficit (https://wordpress.com/post/fitfornearly40.wordpress.com/47) (and eat the right kinds of food – actual healthy foods), your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will get that “toned” look that you’re after.

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Myth 2: You need to do cardiovascular exercises to lose weight 

If you never run another mile in your entire life, there’s no reason you cannot be incredibly healthy and look amazing.  Despite what you might think, and what you might see in a gym, you will never need to step foot on another cardio machine again. Unless of course you want to. Do what makes you happy. But if you are doing it begrudgingly, then maybe consider weight training.

Believe it or not, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio.

When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect).  What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.

Want to hear something else?  You don’t NEED to strength train either! I hate saying it, but it’s true: if your goal is to JUST lose weight, then fixing your diet will get you 80-90% of the way there.   If you never want to set foot in a gym or pick up a weight, that’s fine. 

For exercise, it’s important to find things that make you happy.

Now, if your goals go beyond just losing weight and include things like “looking good” and “being healthy,” then I’m going to ask you to strength train, but there are many ways to do that:

  • Picking up heavy things
  • Swinging kettlebells
  • Doing yoga
  • Doing bodyweight exercises
  • Carrying your kids on a hike
  • Whatever makes you use your muscles in a strenuous way

Myth 3: If you want to lose weight you should just eat less food. 

If you want to lose weight, just eating less will get you there! Makes sense, right? And eating even LESS than that will help you get there even faster! Right? Actually, no.

Yes, eating less will help you lose weight.  However, that is not the whole story.  Surviving on 1200 calories (or less a day) is a miserable way to go through life: always hungry, never happy.

Our bodies need real food, and they need enough of it in order to operate at optimum efficiency. You need to eat real foods. And you need to eat enough of it. As long as these calories are composed of the right kinds of food, and this diet is combined with a fun workout that gets your muscles exercising and your heart pumping, you will have success.

There are also several benefits toward a woman lifting weights. 

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For one, it helps to lose body fat. Weight training builds muscle, as lean muscle increases so does metabolism. A higher metabolism means that you will burn more calories all day long.

Another benefit, and something which was touched on earlier, you will gain strength without bulking up. One of the most common reasons women avoid weight training is because they are afraid of “bulking.” This is a misconception as it physically can not happen. Women simply don’t have the testosterone to build muscle like men. Women have 10 to 30 times less testosterone than men and have a much harder time gaining size from strength training. Instead, women develop muscle definition and strength without the size.

Weight training also helps to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Weight training not only strengthens muscles, it strengthens your bones. Weight training increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. Weight training can also increase spinal bone density to create a strong and healthy spine.

Weight-training can also strengthen your back, shoulders, and core, helping to correct bad posture so that you can stand taller, with shoulders back and spine straight. A stronger back and core will also prevent lower back pain

Finally, exercise and weight-training release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. An increased in endorphins naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Endorphins also stimulate the mind, improving alertness and boosting energy. Weight-training can brighten your entire day or help you combat a bad one.

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In summary, there are many benefits which can be had from women weight lifting, which include losing fat, toning up, getting stronger and leaner muscles, strengthening bones and helping to battle stress. Weight lifting won’t make you bulky. And remember to eat right and eat right of the right types of foods as well. 

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

A bit about the author:I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders. Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders. In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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