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Why Women Should Lift

Lift Heavy, Be Awesome!

Somehow, over the past few millennia the conventional wisdom has been that men and women are completely different species, especially when it comes to training.  Many women are pushed toward ankle weights, step classes, and “toning” exercises by the self-defeating assumption that women should not lift heavy weights.  False.  Women most certainly should lift heavy weights, regularly, and with intensity. 
“But, I don’t want to get Bulky!”
          -Anonymous Female Trainee

Why Women Should Lift

Image Credit: CrossFit Rockwell

Image Credit: CrossFit Rockwell

As we well know, there are some pretty distinct physiological and hormonal differences between us, but the chemistry by which we manage our metabolism and growth is largely the same.  More specifically to my point, the ways in which healthy men and women consume, store, conserve, and expend energy are basically the same, and how much of that weight is fat, muscle, and other tissues can be changed over time by making changes to your diet and training!

So you may be wondering at this point, since we gain and lose weight in the same way, why are men generally bigger than women and why can most men get so much bigger than most women?  The basic answer is good old testosterone.

Men produce a relatively large amount of testosterone compared to women.  In fact, the average male between 25 and 50 years-old produces 14 to 16 times the testosterone of his female counterpart!  Since testosterone has a mostly linear dose-response, more test means more fat-free mass, larger muscle size, increased strength and power and reduced fat mass, among other things.  Men are hardwired to be generally bigger and stronger than women, and adult men grow at a faster rate than women with similar training histories, diets, and training.  This, sometimes among other ‘alternative’ reasons, is why some men seem to get huge while not seeming to work very hard at at all, testosterone is on our side.

So, ladies, unless you are aiming to become “bulky,” chances are you won’t. Although you are certainly capable of it if you put your mind (and body) to it.

The Results are in the Training

So there you have it, lifting heavy typically does not make women bulky or cause them to look like bodybuilders with veins popping out of their neck and legs, and very little “feminine features” to speak of.  Figure athletes and bodybuilders are very deliberate in their pursuit of the body they show off on stage, and the training they use is specific to their results.  Even though lifting heavy weights and exercising at relatively high intensities are usually a part of the bodybuilding regimen, they are among the most effective fat-loss training strategies for healthy women and they produce the lean, defined, athletic-looking physique most women (and men) are after without the large muscle-size of traditional and non-traditional bodybuilders.

As an added bonus high-intensity training makes you stronger and combined with a healthy diet, more resistant to sickness, injury, and the negative effects of stress and the environment.  So get out there ladies and lift, then lift heavy, get lean and defined, become athletic, and be awesome!