The muscle myth and the fear of being bulky
‘Strong is the new sexy’ is probably one of the biggest fitness slogans floating around right now. And as cringey and awkward as I personally find that saying, it’s message is a good one. So if so many women are adopting and promoting this saying, why is the fear of being bulky or ‘too muscly’ still one of the biggest reasons why women won’t start weight lifting?
Many women that talk to me about the gym seem to have the preconceived notion set in their heads that weights = massive muscles. As a woman that has almost exclusively lifted weights for a year and has no massive muscles, I’m here to shut that the fuck down.
Getting ‘big’ or ‘bulky’ is INCREDIBLY hard to achieve. Do you realise that bodybuilders work for obscene amounts of time to achieve the level of muscle mass they have? There is absolutely no way you will pick up weights and explode in bulk. Literally - no way. The stigma around women and weights needs to be debunked, and I feel like there has been huge improvement in this area - based on the amount of women I know and have seen get big into Bodybuilding, Crossfit and just hitting the weights in the gym!
Why lifting weights is AWESOME:
- The more muscle mass you have, the more efficiently you burn calories. When you build lean muscle mass, the additional muscle requires additional energy. In turn, this raises your resting metabolic rate, or the amount of calories your body burns while at rest. Yeah girl, burn dem calories while you sit on yo butt and watch netflix!
- Feeling stronger is such a satisfying feeling. Lifting weights is such an awesome way to track your progress as you literally can see yourself getting stronger, because the numbers keep going up! It gave me a sense of accomplishment that cardio just didn’t, and I found that I felt proud of the things that I could do.
- If you are consistent with your weight training you should see the positive effects on your body faster than strictly doing cardio.
- Lifting weights will actually help you achieve the look of being ‘toned’ - which is an annoying word that essentially means lean muscles. The overall conditioning effect of lifting weights will result in firmer and more defined muscles. Those girls that have the ‘toned’ look have plenty of lean muscle and a low level of body fat. Cardio alone can make you smaller weight wise, but it will be especially hard to get any muscle definition and tone.
- The stress relief from lifting weights is straight up amazing. There’s something so satisfying about throwing around some weight that I just don’t get from running. I like to think of all the people that have said dumb shit to me and use the rage as a little fuel for the fire (fuck YOU jenny, my lipstick is not too bright you bitch).
Now, I’m not telling you to run out and start lifting crazy heavy weights straight away - that’s silly. Nor am I saying that there are no benefits to cardio (despite the name of the blog) - Cardio is awesome for your heart health and getting your base level of fitness up. Doing both cardio and weights should set you up to be a fit, strong amazing healthy person!
Heres a few tips to get you started with weightlifting:
- I would highly recommend getting a trainer to coach you through proper form. Form is everything! You need to make sure you are performing the movements correctly to ensure you don’t hurt yourself and also to ensure that you are working the right muscles for each lift.
- Follow a program. This makes sure you aren’t just doing random exercises on random days. Some excellent starting programmes are Strong lifts, Starting Strength, Strong Curves or New Rules of Lifting for Women. A trainer can easily give you a good program to use too!
- Ensure you are doing the correct amount of reps. If you can easily hit 10-12 reps and you aren’t feeling a burn/feeling like it’s hard - I would recommend going up in weight. Heavier weights & less reps! Aim for 8-10 reps, with the last couple being a push.