Most of my clients are women of all ages and fitness levels. Most complain that they dont want to lift weights because they dont want to get big and bulky.
I then have to sit them down and explain the importance of muscle and assuage those fears by helping them understand the science behind it. Here are a few facts that will help debunk the muscle-bound myth.
Fact 1: Muscles are important because they can help stabilize the joint. The stronger the muscle, the more support the joint will receive. If youve injured a joint, you will want to strengthen the muscles around it because the ligaments may be damaged or too loose. There is nothing wrong with strong muscles. When you have the support of ligaments, cartilage and muscles you have the recipe for a very strong and healthy joint. At the end, it will help minimize injury.
Fact 2: Lifting weights will help increase your bone mineral density (BMD). Muscles always pull on the bones. When they do, there is stress on the bone which will, in time, cause it to become stronger so it can handle heavier loads in the future. You will also want to prevent osteoporosis, which occurs when your BMD drops as you age. When you put stress on the joint through weight training or even running, you are causing the body to release certain cells to help rebuild the bone. Overtime, the bone will become stronger and the risk of injury is minimized.
Fact 3: Men develop 10 times the amount of testosterone than women meaning men will develop muscle faster than women. Ask any guy trying to get big and theyll tell you that its extremely hard (and I am also speaking from experience). Muscle will grow regardless of sex, but the rate of growth will be faster for men. What it will do directly for both men and women is that once secreted, testosterone will transport to the muscle cells directly where it will eventually cause an increase in protein synthesis. Indirectly, it will cause the release of growth hormone in the pituitary gland and influence the central nervous system to help with muscle strength and growth. When your body releases growth hormone, one of its functions is lipolysis. Lipolysis means fat breakdown. Who doesnt want to break down their fat and burn it off?
Fact 4: Muscle and fat both weigh the same. Too many people believe muscle weighs more than fat. A pound is a pound regardless of what is being weighed. Muscle is more dense than fat. When fat is burned your weight may stay the same. The reason for that is that you are building muscle as well. That is actually not a bad thing. Even though the scale stays the same, youve burned off fat and your clothes may fit better. You can actually gain muscle and lose pants and dress sizes.
Fact 5: With a good mix of cardio and weight training, your metabolism will go up. When your metabolism goes up, so does your appetite. The reason for that increase is that your muscles are hungry for nutrients. You need to feed your muscles so that they can continue to grow and be strong. Have you ever been around anyone, male or female, who eats so much but their body composition is slim and healthy?Where do they put it?The answer to that: their muscles. Why? Because they need it.The point to this last fact is that low-calorie or even starvation diets dont work because eventually your body will burn through fat, but it will also burn through muscle. Be smart with your eating if your input is way less than your output, your body will actually feed off of itself.
Hopefully these facts will help put aside fears about resistance training. There is nothing wrong with developing muscle as it has many benefits to it.The answer to changing your body is to stress the body in a way its not used to. And theres also nothing more empowering for women than lifting a weight that is heavier than the person next to them.
Rich Samera for FitnessGoop.com