May 09 2013
Strong is officially the new skinny! Since the Olympics last year, role models like Jessica Ennis have gained enormous amounts of press, and female athleticism has been promoted more than ever. It is now desirable to be lean and strong….
Strong is officially the new skinny!
Since the Olympics last year, role models like Jessica Ennis have gained enormous amounts of press, and female athleticism has been promoted more than ever. It is now desirable to be lean and strong. Yet there’s still an alarmingly large number of women who are afraid to gain muscle.
I frequently hear from female clients of all ages: will this give me big muscles? Or, the statement, I build muscle really easily and don’t want to get bulky. Can you just help me get toned?
It’s important to remember that no woman will ever look like a female bodybuilder from simply doing weight training, even if they are genetically prone to being muscular. Female bodybuilders work extremely hard and typically supplement with drugs that help them build excessive amounts of muscle. It’s also physiologically impossible for us women to gain muscle in the same way as a man because we don’t have enough testosterone unless we ingest it on purpose.
The question you need to answer is this: Would you rather be skinny fat and flabby or more lean and muscular? Which of these women is the most appealing?
Simply put, if losing body fat is anywhere on your list of goals, then gaining muscle must be a priority. What this means is that you must resistance train, because you must first build more muscle in order to burn more fat. If you train hard, you will elevate the hormone Growth Hormone, which burns fat in the body. You will build a little bit of muscle, get stronger, and most gratifying, lose the fat that covers up the muscles you have, giving you the leaner and more ‘toned’ look you want.
Again, I often hear female clients describe how they find the weights area of the gym daunting, since it’s usually dominated by alpha males ‘throwing big weights around’. However, this is all just our perception; ask any guy in a gym what he thinks of the lady in the weights area and his answer will be one of respect. Men respect women who are actively seeking out the right kind of training; trust me on this one – ask nicely and they’ll hand over any piece of kit you need pronto! The might even offer you some help……Don’t be afraid to get stuck in (or if you are a little nervous, ask us to give you an hand in getting your training started!)
Here’s another female training myth busted: many women gravitate towards the ‘weights’ gym classes such as body pump, which employ the high rep, light load training method. Please note that this won’t do anything for you, except it may lead you to lose the small amount of muscle you already have! High rep, light load training is a variation of aerobic exercise and it may raise your cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone in your body. One study found that embarking on a light load aerobic-style resistance program led to the loss of 5 pounds of muscle and a reduction in resting metabolic rate of 3 percent over a 10 year period!. You’ll be left with less muscle and possibly more fat!
Next up: you must train to failure! Those are the only sets worth doing. Otherwise, stay at home because no, it is not better than doing nothing at all. In my experience, this is the number one reason many women don’t get results from weight training…they consistently undertrain. If you can press 20kg but you choose to do only 10kg for fear of getting bigger, then you just wasted your time. You’re not overloading your muscles and they won’t grow or get stronger. To be more toned, you must have more muscle, and you must train them hard, and train them heavy! Heavy does not mean the 2kg weights kept in the studio at the gym!
In terms of the female physique, also, a pound of muscle doesn’t “weigh less” than a pound of fat. They both weigh a pound, but if you have 10 pounds of muscle you will look a lot leaner than if that same 10 pounds was all fat. Strong, developed muscles can give women curves—glutes and abs with muscle development are much more aesthetically pleasing to the male eye—and you’ll look better in clothes. Perhaps more important, than conforming to the male gaze, is research that suggests that building strength by training is an effective way for women to take control of their body image.
Once you have a tool to help you get the body you desire, you’ll feel empowered. I guarantee that achieving personal records and squatting or deadlifting more than you weigh will make you feel and look awesome.
Thanks for reading and call us now on 020 8166 5110 to book your free consultation,
or email me if you have any questions.