Bulking is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the fitness world, and I think it’s creating a misconception among women. In particular, I see women at the gym steering clear of the free-weight section. There’s a fear that lifting with anything heavier than a “Barbie” weight will cause you to get big, bulky and manlike.
The truth is, most women can’t naturally get huge and bulky just by lifting weights. What you CAN get is a healthy body composition that benefits you in your everyday life. If you’ve started to build strength on the IdealShape Up Challenge with me, I bet you’ve already noticed how much it impacts your quality of life!
Following are some of the key benefits of lean muscle for ladies. Let’s put this myth of “bulking” away for good!
1. Increased Bone Density
One of the most obvious benefits of strength training is that your muscles become stronger, allowing you to exert more force. It also strengthens the tendons that are attached to those muscles and increases bone density. Now don’t worry, increased bone density will not make you look bulkier, it will only make your bones stronger.
Increasing bone density through exercise can also decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Keep in mind that this increase in bone density happens over time and that strength training should be a lifetime pursuit and not just a temporary part of your weight loss plan.
2. More Strength To Do the Things You Love To Do
Going back to making your muscles, tendons and bones stronger, strength training and increasing lean muscle mass can better allow you to do the things you need and love to do. These can include playing with your kids, cleaning the house or doing yard work, and even walking up and down the stairs.
You’d be amazed at what even a little change in body composition can do in terms of allowing you to accomplish these things while feeling more energetic and ready to go!
3. Strength Builds Confidence!
Watching yourself get stronger through lifting puts the focus on your abilities and strength and takes your focus off of your weight. Focus on strength and the fat loss will come, trust me! In the meantime, your newfound strength affects the way you carry yourself and helps you feel ready to take on challenges.
Going along with confidence, strength training can give more shape to your body. If your workout regimen only includes cardio, you run the risk of getting a “skinny fat” look because you don’t have muscle to fill out your curves. Muscle keeps you looking healthy.
4. Higher Resting Metabolic Rate
When you perform certain types of exercise, your resting metabolic rate can be elevated during your day. This can allow you to eat more (healthy) food and maintain your weight. It will also lead to fewer weight fluctuations due to higher metabolism.
It is good to keep in mind that this state of elevated resting metabolic rate is highly variable depending on the intensity of exercise being performed. Casual exercise such as walking may only raise your metabolic rate for a short period of time and won’t likely contribute much to your overall calorie expenditure.
On the other hand, higher intensity exercise such as what I include in the IdealShape Up Challenge can elevate your metabolic rate for longer periods of time and can contribute significantly to your daily calorie expenditure.
5. Muscle is Denser Than Fat
Have you ever seen a comparison of what 5 pounds of lean muscle looks like next to 5 pounds of fat? The difference between the two is striking and the transformation to having less fat and more muscle on your frame can dramatically change the way you look and feel.
Because lean muscle is denser than fat, as you build muscle and lose fat you’ll get smaller and look tighter and more toned.
Strength builds confidence, and having a healthy body composition keeps you looking and feeling healthy. Strength training is absolutely essential if you’re trying to lose weight.
Next time you hear a friend discussing how she doesn’t want to train with weights for fear of becoming big and bulky, you can pass along these benefits.
Why Protein is Your Friend
When it comes to increasing lean muscle, your pre- or post-workout meal is really important and protein should always be included in it!
Protein is made up of amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle tissue. When you lift weights, your muscles actually tear as you break them down. Protein is responsible for building them back up — and building them up even stronger than before — through a process called protein synthesis.
My rule of thumb is to have a serving of protein, plus a serving of carbs for energy. For example: an IdealShake smoothie with fruit, oatmeal with honey and cottage cheese, or egg whites in a whole wheat tortilla with fruit.
Not sure where to start with strength training? Join me for the IdealShape Up Challenge!