Resistance training is one of the most underrated and misunderstood tools by most people. When we think lifting weights, we tend to just think of bodybuilders with oversized muscles grunting. There is so much more to resistance training than that and I’d like to go over why it is the key to long-term fitness success.
It isn’t all about having pounds of muscle. The more muscle we have the more calories we burn at rest. Which means the more muscle we have, the more calories we get to eat! Doesn’t that already sound nice? The problem when we spend too much time dieting or not eating enough protein is that our body will prioritize burning through muscle and holding onto fat as the diet continues. The only way we retain the muscle we have is through a proper resistance training program and increasing your protein intake. The worst choice we can make is to ONLY do cardio, while eating little calories. You are basically just losing a slight bit of fat and mostly muscle since cardio isn’t a strong enough stimulus to retain muscle.
When we lose muscle, we require less calories to maintain the same weight. Cause again, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.
Fear of Bulking
Most of my female clients always tell me they’re too afraid to lift weights for fear of getting too bulky. If only lifting weights were that easy. What I usually do is show them all the dudes on the gym floor and let them know most of these guys will spend their entire lifting careers trying to get “too big” and never achieve it. Getting too big comes down to genetics and a whole lot of testosterone. Women simply don’t produce enough testosterone to have that overly bulky look. Even if they DID, putting on size takes time you don’t just wake up one day too muscular. As you start to add on size you can choose to hit a point you’ve reached the size you want and maintain from there.
Usually, when a woman says they’ve gotten too bulky, what’s actually happened is they’ve added a lot of great muscle, while still holding onto the extra body fat. If they dieted down and got rid of the fat, they’d have the beach body they’ve been dreaming about. Keep that in mind as you begin adding resistance training to your program.
For more detail check out my article Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?
Quality of Life
Let’s now look at the long term benefits of incorporating resistance training. It will help combat a sedentary lifestyle and improve your posture. Nothing fixes bad posture better than proper mobility exercises, and using compound exercises to address your weaknesses. If nothing else, you should add weight training to your lifestyle just to address your ailments and weaker areas. If we want to keep up with our kids, or just have a healthy body well into our 70’s and 80’s, then we need to start focusing now on keeping our muscles in shape and not letting our posture cause injury.
Lower Injury Risk and Self Confidence
This is probably my favorite aspect of resistance training for the long haul. The confidence all my clients, regardless of sex, have gained from lifting weights is the reason I love training people. It’s tangible, and it happens pretty quickly. Lifting a heavier weight than the week before is one of the quickest progressions you can see in your life that will allow you to feel so GOOD about yourself for having accomplished. It’s black and white. You either got better or you didn’t. If you follow your trainers guidelines, you absolutely will get stronger. When you get stronger, everything else in your life levels up. You’re moving furniture you thought you’d get injured moving. You’re now carrying all your groceries in one trip. Maybe you’ve stopped asking people for help all the time carrying things. It’s one of the best confidence boosters I’ve ever seen. It gives you back your independence.
Let’s not forget it lowers the injury risk. If our muscles are strong, and working through mastering itself in a full range of motion, we reduce our chance of getting hurt. When we get hurt, it’s usually due to placing our bodies under strain at a range we’ve never practiced before. Incorporating mobility drills prior to and during workouts helps keep your body in check and strengthen your weaker areas so that you reduce your risk. You also strengthen your bones, so that they have less chance of being broken as you get older.
Adding Resistance Training Into Your Life
Here are some basic tips to get started:
- Start by doing 2-3 full body workouts a week. You don’t need any more than that.
- Try to either do 5lbs more than the week before, or 1 rep more.
- Don’t train to failure each set. Leave yourself 2-3 reps shy of your form breaking down.
- Give yourself enough time to recover in between sessions. That usually involves 1-2 days.
- Stick to compound lifts like squat, deadlift, overhead press, row, and bench press. These stimulate multiple muscles at once creating the biggest caloric burn and growing the most amount of muscle in the shortest amount of time.
- Make sure to increase your protein intake to fuel your workouts. Ideally shoot for 1g/lb of bodyweight, or to make it even simpler, have a protein serving the size and thickness of your palm with each meal.
Be sure to check out my article on Which is Better for Women - Cardio Training or Resistance Training?