So this is something I hear extremely often when speaking to new female clients in the gym. Many women’s fitness regime consists of long session of cardio, with maybe a few very lightweight exercises with high reps. When I ask “why are you training the way you are”? The majority of the time the client will tell me that they are trying to lose some body fat and tone their physique.
Some go into more detail about how they want to tone their arms, have smaller well defined legs, or have a flatter stomach with some muscle tone underneath. Now, unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction, it is physically impossible for a human being to lose body fat in one specific area of the body, but that is a whole new topic for another day.
I always ask whether they include any weight training in their program, and the majority of women say no, or yes, but with light weights and high reps. But why is this the case? More often than not many women avoid the weights area as they are afraid that lifting heavy will cause significant muscle gain, and after all they just want to tone. It’s hard to discover where the idea of “toning” came from as in reality there is no such thing, you are either building muscle or not.
The toned look that many women strive for is established through weight training to build the muscle underneath and then losing the body fat over the top through a well structured nutrition program. Hours of cardio and high rep, low weight training is only going to leave you frustrated with little results. The majority of my female clients say they have avoided the weight in the past out of fear that they will become “bulky” or have muscles like men. While I’m sure we have all seen images of female bodybuilders, and I have massive respect for the hard work and dedication they put into their passion, it is impossible for women to look that way from a short period of weight training. If it was that easy then why doesn’t every guy who lifts look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Phil Heath?
While it is possible for a guy to build muscle quickly and easily, this isn’t the case for women. But why is that? It all comes down to hormones. Testosterone is the main hormone that is responsible for building muscle, and while women do have some testosterone, it is no way near the level of males. Therefore it stands to reason that they can build some muscle, but not as much or as quick as guys.
So what does happen when women lift weights? They build muscle slowly which will help to improve their physique. More muscle tissue in the legs make the thighs and bum more shapely, and more development of the arms can help the fight against bingo wings. Building muscle tissue in the shoulders and back will create the illusion of a smaller waist and help create the hourglass fugue.
But what about body fat? While lifting weight will burn calories, the only way to lose body fat is to set up a calorie deficit, through a well-structured nutrition program, as mentioned in a previous blog “the one diet that actually works”. If you decide you want to look more toned and therefore diet really hard to lose fat, with little muscle underneath, ultimately you end up with a skeleton. However, with some well-defined muscle, you will create that toned and “wonder woman” physique you are after.
So to conclude, women should lift weights as it will lead to the physique many women are after by building “toned” muscle and helping lose fat to get you in the best shape.