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Why You Should be a Girl Who LiftsPart 2: Reasons Why Lifting Weights is Awesome by Nat West

Now that I have debunked a few of the top myths associated with women lifting weights, it is time to move on to the fun stuff. Or, as this title suggests, the “awesome” stuff. We know the myths about weight lifting, so that boulder has been lifted from our shoulders. In this post, we talk about some of the positive, beneficial qualities and facts that the world of female lifting holds!

Fact 1: You get to eat more (yet look better).

What? Eating MORE food, yet becoming slimmer, stronger, and healthier? What sort of wizardry is this?!

Nope! No magic here. Just science. Here is how this works:

Everyone has such a thing called a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate.) This is just a fancy term for the number of calories your body requires to maintain ONLY basic functions. This number does not include the calories needed for walking, working, cleaning, exercising, etc.

People who are larger will have a higher BMR than someone who is smaller. Also, a pound of muscle burns more calories at rest than a pound of fat does. So in theory, even if you sat around and did nothing all day (which I DON’T advise)…the more muscle you have, the more food you can eat while maintaining the same weight… AKA, the higher your BMR will be.

It is also important to note that a pound of muscle does NOT weigh less than a pound of fat. This is a huge misconception… I honestly could have written about it in my first post! A pound equals a pound, no matter what material. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks!

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5lbs of muscle is much more dense and smaller in size than 5lbs of fat.

What people likely mean when they say this, is that a pound of muscle LOOKS less than a pound of fat. Which is true, because muscle is more dense (smaller, more compact) than fat.

So, do not worry if you happen to weigh more after you gain muscle, as this is a common and actually commendable happening. More weight/muscle usually means added strength, higher BMR, and a well carved physique. As long as you have dropped body fat (which becomes easier with more muscle, because it burns more calories) you can look 10x better, smaller, AND lose inches/clothes sizes all while eating more food.

Fact 2: You don’t need (as much) cardio.

Have you ever heard of the term “skinny fat?” It refers to a body that typically looks decent with clothes on, but in a while in swimsuit or naked it is obvious that they lack muscle or (for lack of a better phrase…please refer to my first post about this) a “‘toned” look. These people have a high body fat percentage, meaning that the amount of fat in their body in relation to the rest of their biological composition-muscle, bones, ext- is relatively high.  This results in a “squishy” appearance.

Another interesting point to make is that muscle will not magically “replace” fat. Muscle and fat are two very different things, on a biological level. One will never turn into the other. HOWEVER, it is possible to lose body fat and/or gain muscle in order to give the appearance that muscle has “replaced” fat. By doing this, you can remain the same clothe size yet look much more defined.

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Need I say more?

Now, you might just think “Gee, why don’t I just do I bunch of cardio to lose that fat?” Not so fast. Excess cardio could in fact be a reason for the “skinny-fat” epidemic.

While cardio can certainly help with losing weight/fat, it is fair to say that weight lifting reigns supreme in the fat loss department. Why? Because more muscle=more calories burned=more fat loss. Plus, even if you DO lose fat by doing tons of cardio, you will likely lose quite a bit of muscle in the process. You will therefore be left with, again, a “doughy” physique.

Remember what I just said above? A pound of muscle DOES NOT look like a pound of fat. This means that in order to escape the “skinny-fat” dilemma, you’ve gotta be willing to pick up some weights that are heavier than your 3lb grocery bags.

However, I am not totally slamming cardio. Cardiovascular exercise, preferably in the form of metabolic conditioning or HIIT, can be very effective in overall health and fat loss. These sessions should be brief, intense, and (hopefully) not boring. For optimal benefits, “cardio” only needs to occur 2-3x a week at most, and usually no longer than 20-30 minutes.

Fact 3: Lifting weights strengthens bones.

A fear among women, especially as they age, is the development of weak bones or osteoporosis. However, much of this issue can be reversed or even fixed with the use of weight training.

Bones are similar to muscles due to that fact that, like a muscle, a bone will grow and strengthen when it is used frequently. Through weight training, you can build bones that are dense and durable. Even in studies of postmenopausal women at their highest risk of bone issues, the implementation of lifting weights showed a dramatic improvement of bone composition.

            Many females take calcium supplements in order to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. But wait until you hear this before you shy away from the dumbbells: strength training (along with the use of certain nutrients) is needed in order to sustain the calcium in your bones.

Studies have also indicated that older women often have as little as half of their original muscle mass left.  Weight bearing exercise can help strengthen and retain muscles, which may lead to less accidents that cause weak bone related injuries.

Fact 4: Weight training helps in real life situations.

Anyone who disagrees with this has obviously not done much movement in their lives!

Think about it. On a very basic level, strong muscles might help us to walk up the stairs (or down the street!) efficiently. But let’s consider other situations where being healthy and fit would come in handy.

  • Holding or playing with your children
  • Hauling heavy groceries and large cases of water/drinks
  • Home improvement projects (I actually helped my uncle repair an old house a few months ago. I had to hold up a ceiling. Yay for sturdy arms!)
  • Unboxing or packing items/Moving furniture
  • Surviving the zombie apocalypse

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Trust me. You’ll thank me later!

And that is just to name a few! Seriously. Being stronger than the average lady (or heck, the average citizen) becomes essential in MANY day to day activities. Whether you are coaching your daughter’s cheerleading team, carrying a heavy school backpack, or helping your best friend move… picking up some iron in the gym really helps out.

Fact 5: You will feel like a superhero.

Excuse my language, but it is true. You don’t have to be the strongest or the most powerful to FEEL like the hottest superwoman in the gym.

Besides the fact that exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins and serotonin, how cool would be it to tell your friend’s that you can pick up over 200 pounds off the floor? Or that you can grab on to a bar and pull yourself up?

Not to mention the idea that you can proudly associate yourself with the dudes in the gym. Cardio machines and pink dumbbells? Pu-lease. March yourself over to the weight room, load up a barbell, and slyly smirk as you get looks as awe and admiration from both men and women alike.

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Get after it girl! Lifting weights does your confidence AND body good.

WRAP UP

Here are some key reminders from the post!

  • When you lift weights, you can eat more food yet become slimmer. (Win-win situation, right?)
  • Forget the boring cardio. Strength training is better for burning fat and losing weight.
  • Want to keep your bones strong? Weight bearing exercise is the way to do it.
  • You can actually use the your gym lifting skills in real life situations.
  • Hitting the weight room makes you feel like superwoman!

Natalie

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Works Cited:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/447243-is-it-a-myth-that-muscle-burns-more-calories-than-fat/

http://greatist.com/fitness/does-muscle-weigh-more-fat

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/skinny-fat/

http://www.webmd.boots.com/fitness-exercise/guide/cardio-vs-strength

http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/living-with-osteoporosis-7/weight-training

http://www.naturalnews.com/010528.html#

http://www.livestrong.com/article/320144-does-exercise-release-a-chemical-in-the-brain/

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