#STARTSWITH STRENGTH TRAINING
30 October 2017
We are nearing the home stretch of the Woolworths #startswith challenge and I thought I would share with you today why I have focused on strength training / lifting HEAVY weights throughout my #startswith challenge.
Today I am going to tell you why I prefer lifting pieces of iron over killing myself for hours on the treadmill. Now, before the cardio bunnies stop reading, I urge you to read on. Don’t get me wrong, cardiovascular exercise is just as important, but as the average gym-going woman, what is our biggest goal? Toning and Fat Burn, riiiiight? Well I am here to tell you that lifting dumbbells and pushing iron, is going to help you achieve that goal FAAAAAR better than hours of cardio ever will.
(If you’re a gym-going male reading this, I encourage you to continue reading too, because I can guarantee you that if you are a boyfriend/husband to a gym-going woman at this point in time, then chances are that you may need to give that special lady, a little lesson on why she should be lifting like you)…
And here is why….
For the next 5 minutes, let’s forget about all you have read in the media regarding workouts aimed specifically at men, and workouts aimed specifically at women. I am all for equality and I can tell you that if women trained like men, they would reach their goals far quicker, most probably enjoy their time in the gym far more, and have a far more effective (mentally and physically) workout. How many times have us women been told that we should rather focus on “toning and sculpting exercises” which usually demand little to no weight for a rep count that seems to take you into the next ice age (i.e low weight high reps)? Don’t get me wrong, those exercises are great for certain women (and maybe I am generalizing just a tad bit here…bear with me people), but in GENERAL, I want to explain to you why I have ditched the hours of cardio and adopted a heavy weight training schedule which, since August 2016, as resulted in a 35 kilogram loss. Shall we bust some myths?
LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS
Men should lift heavy weights with low reps to build BULK muscle and women should lift light weights with high reps to get lean and toned.
WRONG! Why? Because muscle, is muscle, is muscle. Simple. Men and women are both born with muscles. There are no different types of the same muscle. A bicep is a bicep no matter if it’s on Susie or John. Sure, there are workouts that build muscle, and then there are workouts that don’t. And I’ll bet your bottom dollar, that if you are doing a “toning and sculpting” workout designed for women, chances are, that workout is doing nothing to tone and sculpt you. Sorry!
I don’t want to lift heavy weights because I am sacred of getting “manly” or “bulky”.
Ok, just for the sake of science (because science is cool), allow me to explain why this is the worst myth of all time. I hear this so often. So many of my female friends are deathly afraid of the weights section in the gym because the media has brainwashed them into the thinking that they will get bulky if they bicep curl anything above 4kgs. WRONG! As mentioned above, the average gym-going women’s main goal is to “tone, sculpt and burn fat” but their fear of getting too bulky or manly, is literally going to be the one thing that prevents them from reaching this goal. And here is where the science comes…one word, that little hormone called “Testosterone”.
Now we all know, that women possess a small amount of testosterone in their hormonal makeup and this is also the hormone responsible for muscle gain. Men have FAAAAR more testosterone than the average gym-going women. Put it to you this way, scientifically and physiologically women unfortunately (or fortunately) would have to work 10X as hard as men to get anywhere near as “bulky” or “manly” as the men they are scared of emulating. The only real way that this could be achieved is if you decided to take illicit drugs or extra testosterone to achieve that goal. Now before I have bodybuilders coming after me for that comment, yes it is very possible to achieve a chiselled physique without the use of illicit drugs. But this is really not what this article is about.
Truth be told, I have such a huge issue with this myth for the following reasons:
- Because of this myth, women are scared to get “bulky” when in actual fact they are self-sabotaging their own progress by a fear that is unjustified;
- Because of this myth, there is an imbalance of females to males in the free weights section of the gym (and that’s just super sad);
- Because of this myth, after some time, most women end up HATING the gym because they see it as the place of 60 minutes of cardio hell (when you could actually do 30 minutes of weights to achieve the same fat burn (more on that in Myth number 3 below).
At the end of the day, the science dictates that women gain muscle at half the rate as men. So even on your very best and heaviest lifting day, you ladies won’t come close to the same muscle gain a man would gain on his worst day. Therefore, women cannot gain at the same rate as men and therefore end up looking as “bulky” and “manly” as you think you may look. Trust me, I’ve been lifting heavy for over a year, and I am only now beginning to see some baby muscles peeking through. Emphasis on BABY!
I do cardio over weights because cardio is better for fat burn.
NO. NO. NO! Again, don’t get me wrong, cardiovascular workouts and HIIT are excellent fat burning workouts, so long as you remain in the fat burning zone. If you feel like you can’t breathe, chances are you’re burning your hard worked for “toned and sculpted” muscle, and that’s not at all what you want. Enter, strength training i.e weights! There have been many studies done that show that lifting heavy weights is just as effective for burning fat as cardio, and in some cases, even better. This is because when you lift weights, you are training larger muscles, and larger trained muscles will burn more calories and more fat. Cardio will also burn calories and fat however, whilst cardio burns the fat during the duration of the workout, strength training (weight training) burns more for longer due to a phenomena called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which is the super shmancy scientific term for the duration for which your metabolism is elevated and in a fat burning state post your workout. With cardio, you are pretty much capped at the number of calories you burn in your session. However, with strength training, your post-calorie fat burn CONTINUES hours after your workout is complete. So basically you continue to burn calories and fat at a higher rate post a strength training workout than post an intense 60 minutes of treadmill running. I mean, that’s literally like having your cake AND eating it!!
I could honestly go on and on, as there are hundreds of reasons why strength training and lifting heavy weights is just as effective a fat burning tool as cardio. As mentioned above, I have seen excellent weight loss results in the past 14 months by incorporating heavy weights into my training.
My hope is that I have left you with a burning desire to pick up the weights next time you are at the gym. Trust me, your body will thank you!
Because in my experience, fat burn #startswith strength training.