WOMEN AND WEIGHT LIFTING…
Many women, including ones in their 40s, 50s and even older, still believe that lifting weights for fitness will bulk them up. I’m a certified personal trainer. If it were that easy, then all those young men who clang heavy dumbbells, who guzzle buckets of protein shakes every day, would have biceps the size of melons.
Women have far less testosterone, the “male hormone,” than men. It is this hormone that enables men to develop large muscles. Therefore, it’s really silly to think that a woman is on the same playing field as a man!
Women naturally have less muscle mass to work with. Again, how does it stand to reason that a woman will bulk up from weight lifting, when it’s pretty darned hard for many men to increase their muscle size?
Some women have told me, “I get really big,” or, “I get bulky muscles.” One woman went on and on about how muscular she was during her weight lifting days. By the time she was done speaking, I was picturing a grizzly bear. Then she showed me a photo of herself during her “bulked-up” days. She was no more muscled than a typical aerobics instructor.
We all know women who think they have “fat” legs, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. And there are 79-pound women who think they’re overweight. So if you think weight workouts make you too brawny, consider the possibility it’s all in your head.
Fat gets mistaken for muscle. Whenever I give a body fat caliper test to a woman who claims she bulks up easily, her body fat percentage is always at least 28 percent, and most were over 30 percent. According to the American Council on Exercise, body fat exceeding 25 percent is in the “poor” range as far as body composition, i.e., this means too much fat in the body.
In other words, the “bulk” was excess fat! Sometimes, a thigh or arm can have so much fat packed into it, that it has a harder, denser appearance, creating the illusion that it’s actual muscle.
For people who don’t lift weights, they start losing valuable muscle mass beginning at around age 30. Each decade yields a loss of 5 pounds of muscle. By age 60, the sedentary woman has lost 15 pounds of muscle.
She may still be able to fit in her wedding dress, but you can bet that her body fat percentage tells a frightening story. Muscle loss slows metabolism. Fat gain results. She’s not necessarily much bigger, but her body composition has shifted: She’s soft, flabby and has lost her shape.
Ironically, many women who fear bulking up have reached an age where muscle loss has already set in. If a 50-year-old woman, with no strength-training background, begins lifting weights, she would have to gain 10 pounds of muscle to break even with the muscle mass she had when she was 29! She would have to gain 20 pounds of muscle to acquire a 10-pound surplus of muscle tissue! And if she gains only 5 pounds of muscle, she’s still 5 pounds in the hole!
“How can they do that to themselves?” This is an actual statement from a mature woman — who had never lifted weights before — upon viewing some female bodybuilders posing during a competition on cable TV.
But one might also ask the same question of women whose lifestyle habits cause them to be 50 or more pounds overweight.
Don’t make a judgment based on the extreme . Yes, there are women who are built like bulldozers. Bodybuilding is a sport, just like tennis, speed skating and swimming. Women who have succeeded at building huge muscles are practically in the same category — as far as being able to achieve something incredible with their body — as other athletes in different sports who have won major competitions.
Muscles don’t get big by accident , just like a woman doesn’t serve a tennis ball at 110 mph by accident. Endless training is required.
Saying you’ll get hulking muscles from lifting weights is like saying you’ll get thighs the size of tree trunks if you take up ice skating. After all, don’t speed skaters have huge quads? Female bodybuilders train many hours per week, sometimes two hours every day. They also train in a way that is conducive to large muscle development.
So how is it possible that a woman will end up looking like them if she trains only three times a week for only 30 minutes, with an entirely different goal: an upgrade in health and fitness? Also, many female bodybuilders take steroids.
A woman doesn’t go from 10-inch arms to 14-inch arms overnight. Building size is very difficult to do, and takes a long time. Even women who are genetically blessed with ample muscle must work hard at building. So if at some point, you start noticing your arms are bulging just a tad more than desired, all you need do is start using lighter weights! Using lighter weights will reverse the process. Ask anybody who’s suffered an injury that’s forced them to lift lightly for several weeks!
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