The client was 9 months post-natal, petite with relatively small limbs compared to her torso. Her core, which carried most of her weight, was the focus of her visit to the fitness center. She had not ever done resistance training. I explained the importance of building muscle as this will escalate the body’s ability to burn fat. “Oh.”, she exclaimed, “but I don’t want to get ‘bulky’” and insisted she could not lift any more than a 5 lb body bar or medicine ball and asked about a ‘cardio’ program on the treadmill.
It’s 2018, and it still baffles my mind to hear ladies make this proclamation with all the research out today about muscle building, increased longevity of life and quality of life with strength training and the benefits of strength training in comparison to cardiovascular programs. Cardiovascular training will help initially especially if you have not worked out previously, but eventually, as with most programs, your body will acclimate and plateau out. Have you ever wondered how it was possible to have friends who are overweight, but can run a marathon? Fat burning does not have a direct correlation to cardiovascular strength. If you have a strong heart, you could run all day long and not lose a pound. Furthermore, the amount of weight you would need to lift to look ‘bulky’ is a substantial amount and requires not days, weeks or even months but usually YEARS of consistent training with proper diet. Most pictures that women see of other women who are large and extremely muscular take performance enhanced drugs or have been lifting on a regimented program most of their lives.
The benefits aside from burning fat? Let’s not forget your muscles MOVE your body. Stronger muscles increase your ability to move easier, longer, protects your skeletal system and internal organs, and protects you from many chronic illnesses.
So, what do you need to do to acquire fat burning muscles while still maintaining feminine curves?
DON’T BE AFRAID TO PUSH A LITTLE WEIGHT
If you don’t feel a change, you probably aren’t making one. Lifting 3-5lb weights for most is probably as effective as picking up your bottled water and lifting it to your lips every day.
As the saying goes, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. The weight should be a slight struggle to move. The muscle will not build unless it is broken down. That doesn’t happen unless the muscle is forced to work
If 5lbs truly IS work for you then manage that weight on your lifts, 3 sets of roughly 10-12 until that becomes easy and then increase the weight
DON’T FORGET LEG DAY – as women we carry weight in our lower bodies, and that’s mostly fat! The same logic applies. The more muscle you have in your lower body, the leaner you become.
WORK INTERVAL TRAINING INTO YOUR REGIMENT – Sure we need cardio. Don’t just do steady state cardio but change up the speeds and resistance to shock the body. Most of the cardio machines in the gym have an interval training setting
MANAGE YOUR FOOD INTAKE – This all means nothing unless you are willing to change up your diet. Details on this will be reserved for another day but making lifestyle changes with your food will determine 80-90% of the success of your program.