Don't be afraid to go heavy! If you want a lean, healthy physique with a butt you can set a beer on, then weight lifting is the way to go.
Gone are the times when skinny was king. These days, we're all looking for a little augmentation of our applebottom. Butts are in, babe, and heavy weights are the way to get one for yourself. Lots of people are scared of lifting for one reason or another. So let's talk about how fantastic weight lifting is for your body, and then let's get rid of all those excuses.
We're Gonna Pump YOU Up!
- Injury Prevention: Imagine you slip while running up the stairs with a heavy armload of books. If your core and back are strong, they can bear up under the sudden shift in weight and protect your body from the jerk and torque you might experience. If the muscles are weak, that kind of quick movement can much more easily sprain or strain something. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that weight training cut overuse injuries in half, and sports injuries by more than 75 percent!
- You'll Lose Fat: A lot of people think that when you work out you're actually turning fat into muscle. That's not true. They're two separate things that don't morph into one another. But the good news is that when you're weight lifting you're going to gain muscle. Muscle tissue uses a lot more calories than fat, so you'll burn more calories all the time, not just when you're working out. That's going to result in a revved metabolism and fat loss. And therefore...
- You'll Lose Inches, Not Gain Bulk: A lot of women are really scared that lifting weights will make them look manly or huge. Girls, I've got news for you. It's so so so hard to get crazy big, or even kind of big. You have to lift a certain way and eat a certain way; it's a life consuming activity. I promise you're not going to stumble into it by accident. Like I said before, when you increase your muscle mass, you're gonna lose fat and and firm right up. That actually makes you smaller! Once I started lifting, all of my clothes fit better.
- Strong Bones: Weight lifting is an investment in your health for the rest of your life. Lifting can increase bone density, protecting you from breaks as you age. Think you're too old to lift, or it's too late to elevate bone density? Think again! A study by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging showed that high intensity strength training in previously sedentary post-menopausal women increased bone density, strength, and balance!
- Dat Booty Tho: Looking for a way to take those pancakes on your rear end to Kardashian/Minaj status? Trust me, that hour long aerobics class isn't gonna help, even if your buns feel like they're on fire. Why? Because you're not building muscle, you're mostly just burning calories. To build muscle, you need to break down the muscle fibers, which we do by lifting heavy. When the fibers heal they'll be stronger and slightly larger, causing muscle gain! Then, like I said above, the added calorie burn of that new muscle will whisk away that fat and you'll be left with gorgeous, lean mass. So, if you want that titillating rear view, you need to throw in some heavily weighted glute exercises.
Now you have a lot of questions, right? In fact, I can hear you right now. "I want to try it but..."
Give up the "Buts" and Get that Butt!
- I Already Lift Weights: Lots of women lift light weights (2-8lbs.) with very high reps to "tone" their muscles. And if you're happy with your body and strength, that's totally fine. But if you want to change how you look and build muscle, you're going to have to lift some challenging weights. Like we discussed above, to build muscle you first have to break it down.
- I Don't Know What to Do: The weight room can be a really intimidating and confusing place. What's that machine for? How do I work it? How much weight should I put on that bar? Am I doing this right? All totally valid questions. You can ask your gym for a personal trainer to take you through and answer any questions you have. They can come up with a program for you, check your form, and make you feel comfortable. If you don't want to go that route, I love online weight lifting programs. This one by bodybuilding.com is designed specifically for women and provides videos, so you can see how to use each machine or do each exercise. Just take your smart phone to the gym and, voila, instant personal trainer, free of charge!
- I Feel Like I'm In The Way: Anxiety is a fantastic deterrent. I know so many people who just don't want to be a nuisance or embarrass themselves. I hear that, and I couldn't relate more. But ladies, it's time to grow a pair. If you come up with a solid plan before you hit the gym, you have just as much right to be in the weight room as anyone else. It doesn't matter if you're not lifting a lot of weight to start with. If you do get in someone's way, you'll learn and not do it next time. And to that end, here are some things that most people try and do to be considerate:
- Rack your weights when you're done. It's annoying for the guy (or girl!) behind you to have to put your weights back before they load up.
- Wipe it off. Use the antibacterial wipes provided when you lay on a bench or touch stuff.
- Don't stand in front of a machine and text or look for a hot new playlist to gun your quads to. Find an out-of-the-way spot if you need to focus for a bit.
- Don't stretch in the weight room. Go to the stretch room.
- If you're resting for a fair amount of time in between sets, move out of the way in case someone wants to work in between your sets.
Now get out there and make me proud!
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Image: Sarah Olive Bergeson