Certified Personal Trainers and fitness gurus hear it all the time when we start working with a new client. “I want to lose weight but I do not want to strength train because I don’t want to get bulky.”
It’s myth-busting time because if you have a goal to lose weight, then you should be strength training and not just doing cardio.
You will not get bulky, but you will get strong.
If I had a nickel for every time a woman has told me that they don’t want to get bulky from strength training, I honestly wouldn’t have to work so hard.
In all seriousness, it is biologically impossible for women to get bulky like a bodybuilder. We have to train a very specific way to do that and possibly use steroids in the process. Sure, you might see some muscle gain but that is good for you and your goals!
While you won’t get bulky, you will get stronger! You’ll notice improvements in not just your muscular strength but also your muscular endurance. You’ll be able to carry all those grocery bags in one trip and not have to stop for a rest when you’re halfway to the kitchen!
Yes, you can strength train AND lose weight
You don’t have to do 60 minutes of cardio to lose body fat! I don’t know about you, but I find cardio so boring.
Strength training will still keep your heart rate elevated and burn calories so you will still reach your weight loss goal.
This brings me to another discussion about how strength training makes people gain weight. That is sometimes the case but people see that while sometimes the scale will show just a couple of extra pounds, their body fat percentage and circumference measurements actually go down. Your clothes will start fitting better, too! This is why I always tell my clients to not pay a ton of attention to the scale. I prefer to track progress with circumference measurements, body fat progress, and even having a client pick out an article of clothing that they don’t fit into well and make it a goal to fit into it!
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve trained a woman and they have told me that they could never do a pull-up or they could never do a set of ten push-ups. It is amazing to watch them prove themselves wrong and strength training gives women this sense of empowerment. Instead of saying, “oh I can’t do that,” strength training will give us the ability to say, “I am going to train to be able to do that.”
Building Mental Strength
In addition to building physical muscle and strength, we build a lot of mental strength through lifting weights. Strength training demonstrates to us that with some power and strategy, we can get through anything. We can go through the tough and heavy things, only to come out stronger on the other end. It also shows that our minds will always give up before our bodies do. I say this to my clients a lot because it is totally true! In fact, this week, one of my clients repeated it back to me and it makes me feel so good because it means that she is listening to me and she is learning this, too.
Burning More Calories AFTER the Workout
It is true- you can burn even more calories after a workout by adding some resistance. This is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, also known as EPOC. After the workout, the body still needs more oxygen than it needed before the workout. The body is using more oxygen and energy to supply our muscles with what they need to recover after being broken down- and the way they are broken down is through resistance training. Once recovered, they are even stronger.
Burn More Calories… Period.
As you build more muscle mass, your resting metabolism increases, which means you are burning more calories throughout the day because your body is supporting your lean muscle mass instead of fat mass. Think about all of the muscles in your body that move you around and help your body. They are actually doing something while body fat just sits there like Chaff sits on my lap all the time.
Prevent Diseases and Conditions
Women are especially prone to osteoporosis and strength training can help prevent it in addition to joint pain, depression, arthritis, and back pain… basically a lot of the pains associated with getting older and living a life of inactivity. Our muscles support our bones and joints so it is important to keep them strong!
As far as depression, I don’t know if strength training exactly prevents it, but I do know that physical activity releases endorphins which can make people feel better. Exercise should never be a substitute for therapy and/or medication if that is the treatment that works better for you. It all depends on the person!
Improving Cardiovascular Endurance
Yes, cardio is still an important aspect of your workout and I am not saying to completely skip out on it. A well-balanced workout will consist of cardio, strength training, and flexibility (stretching). Strength training will still improve your cardiovascular endurance because it keeps your heart rate up, so while you’re lifting weights you are still improving your cardio skills.
There are so many undeniable reasons why we should strength train in addition to working on our cardio. I won’t lie to you guys, I used to be a “cardio bunny,” as they call it. I didn’t do much weight lifting because it honestly scared me. Now that I do lift, I cannot ever imagine NOT doing it!
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I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.