Last month I was teaching one of my corporate fitness classes, and I was demonstrating a reverse lunge to the class, while holding a kettle bell. One of the participants asked me what the purpose was of me holding the kettle bell? Instead of going into a long-winded rant about the importance of weight training, I gave her a very simple answer about how holding a weight increases the difficulty level, forces your muscles to work harder, forces your balance to come into play and how it works your core (people LOVE that). A lot of people don’t really understand how important it is to regularly weight train. Most people assume that weights are only there to make you big and strong, and this scares a lot of women away, because the last thing many women want to be is BIG and Bulky. Yes weights do help to build your strength, but they do more than just that. If done properly, and with intensity, lifting weights are essential to you losing body fat. Cardio is simply not enough to lose weight, and it is not the ONLY option. Yes, cardiovascular training is important but it will not give you a nice butt! Trust me! Unless you become a sprinter… but let’s be real most of us are not going to start our weight loss journey doing the 100 meter dash!
I’ve written two other articles related to weight training and some of the myths that surround it like How I’ve enhanced my feminine shape through weight training 🙂 or Toned? or Skinny? Toned, the new word for skinny…. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to weight training, and it is very frustrating! Not only as a fitness professional, but as a female. Lifting weights will not make you big and bulky! But too much of your favorite treats will! Lifting weights will actually help you achieve better overall fat loss than just cardio alone, and it will also give your body a better overall shape and definition. But how?
- First of all, weight training increases your metabolic rate for 36 hours post workout. This means that not only did you burn x amount of calories during your workout, your body will keep burning calories for the rest of the day at a higher rate. Sure, you may burn more calories minute per minute of cardio than you would weight training, but you would only burn an additional 40-80 calories post workout from cardiovascular training. This means, that even though you may burn a lot of calories during a good cardio session, you would burn more calories overall with a consistent weight training program. In order to achieve a high post calorie burn from aerobic exercise, you must being doing it for a long period of time, like a marathon runner for example. However, people who are capable of such long distance running are not typically concerned with fat loss. Sprinting, on the other hand can bring about a post workout calories burn similar to that of weight training, however, you must be sprinting pretty hard in order to see these kinds of benefits.
- Secondly, not only will weight training boost your metabolic rate for 36 hours post workout, it will increase your long-term metabolic rate as well. It does this by increasing your overall lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate will be. Your basal metabolic rate is a calculation of the amount of calories your body would burn just lying in bed, not moving, just breathing. The more accurate calculations would consider your lean mass as well, not just your overall weight, however, the point is, is that the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn. This is why men, who typically have more muscle mass than women, can eat more than women and gain less weight. I need to be clear though, no one will just magically bulk up in lean muscle mass the second they pick up a weight. Naturally it takes a month to build 1-2 pounds of PURE MUSCLE for a male, and in the same amount of time a female will be able to build 1/2 to a full pound of muscle. This is does not include water and fat that come along with general weight gain. That being said, over time with consistent effort, this will make you much more resistant to weight gain as you grow older.
- Unlike cardio, weight training has the ability to completely reshape your body. Doing cardiovascular training does help with general weight loss, however, this weight loss will be a combination of fat, water, and muscle. Therefore, if you were just to do cardio, you will be left with just a smaller version of your current self. Also, too much cardio training can cause your body to release cortisol (stress hormone) which will cause your body to lose lean muscle mass, and to gain fat in the abdomen. Instead, if you are performing resistance training, with a proper diet, meaning you are consuming enough protein to sustain and grow your muscles, you are more likely to lose just body fat and some water. In addition to loosing your body fat, you will be enhancing the shape of your body, and the definition of your muscles. If you were to just do cardio, you will still be soft, and you won’t have the same muscle tone.
I’m naturally more of a pear shaped female. I’ve always been leaner on top, and fuller on the bottom. It has been through weight training that I’ve been better able to balance out my body and create more of an hourglass shape. If you’re worried about becoming too masculine? Please don’t be! We females do not produce enough testosterone naturally to build that kind of size, and the average female does not consume nearly enough calories to get that big either. So, if you want to enhance your shape, lose body fat and improve your long-term health? You must weight train on a regular basis!