Woman To Woman: Strength Training For A Better Body And Mind
Women all over the world are always looking for ways to look and feel their best. Unfortunately, there are still so many myths surrounding one of the best ways to reach that goal. Lifting weights and strength training seem to always be associated with bodybuilders or “manly” looking women. Strength training has evolved tremendously, but some of the old “theories” still plague the women who want to transform their bodies today.
“But I Don’t Want to Get Bulky and Look Like a Man!”
The first concern women usually have is how strength training will affect their physique. Understandably so! Picture this, your significant other (if they are male) started going to the gym, and three months later, his biceps are poppin’ and his six pack is looking delicious. Obviously, that looks great on him, but we are not looking to pick up that muscular of a physique. Many women are trying to be curvier, slimmer, and experience fat loss.
Testosterone is one of the very important hormones that aid in muscular growth. As you most likely know, males have more testosterone than females. If males have more testosterone, they grow muscle bigger, quicker, and usually easier than the average female. Long story short, unless you are juicing some serious steroids, it is physiologically impossible for women to become “bulky”.
“I Want to Lose Weight and Tone”
Ladies, do you even understand what you mean by saying “tone”? Let me tell you, what you want is to look better naked. You want leanness. You want to lose body fat and be predominantly (you guessed it) more muscular!
Again, do you want to lose weight or do you want to look better naked? (Part of the equation is to lose body fat, but this is not the only part of the equation to improving body composition. Majority of women are looking to improve their body composition, which involves decreasing body fat levels and increasing muscle size and strength.) I have spoken with many women and personal training clients that I work with, and majority of them agree that they would like to improve their body composition, not necessarily lose weight. Losing weight in isolation will most likely not give you the dream body you are searching for, but may be just a part of the initial process. The other part of the equation is adding in a consistent strength training regimen.
What if I told you that you could weigh more but look better? The saying, “muscle weighs more than fat” is an incorrect riddle, but there is a grain of truth. Pound for pound, muscle and fat obviously weigh the same, but a pound of fat is less dense and occupies more space than a pound of muscle. Many women are alarmed when the scales begin to go up after regular strength training. Their clothes fit looser and their body looks better, but they are worried solely about the scale. Who cares how much you weigh if you look smoking hot? Unless you have orders from a doctor, or you are training for something very specific (a weight-class based sport), I recommend women stop weighing themselves excessively. Pay attention to your body. How are your clothes fitting? Did that workout feel easier? How is your confidence?
Strength training and weight lifting can change your outward physique, but what if training could heal your view of yourself? Many women find lifting weights a complete game-changer (myself included). When you take your health into your own hands and tell your body that you love it enough to take care of it, your mind responds. You just gave your body worth, and believe me, you are so worth it. Looking good might be your motivation, but when your body shows you what it is capable of, you will have a new respect for it.
After running for years, I slowly began strength training in college. While I am not bashing running, I was still unhappy with the way my body looked. I would run at least 2-4 miles a day. Fast forward to three years of strength training, and I have newfound confidence and love for my body, and what it can do. Hiking, swimming, horseback riding, yoga, and rock wall climbing are just a few of the activities my strength has made even more enjoyable. I have learned to care for, love, and respect my body.
With this article, I hope to spread a little more education and positivity about strength training. It has completely changed my life, and I sincerely wish for every woman to be able to experience such a change, both inside and out.