*A note from Sarah: Below is another post by guest blogger Jason Seib of Primitive Stimulus. I love all of Jason’s posts but this one is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I used to have a misconception that if I lifted heavy weights I would “bulk up.” Fast forward to today and I am so grateful that somebody finally shot that notion clean out of my mind. There are “fitness professionals” out there currently preaching that women should never lift more then 3 pounds. Please tell me ladies, does your toddler, bag of groceries, or even your purse weigh less then 3 pounds?? I’ll leave you with this thought; changing my attitude about exercise changed my life, and very likely saved my life and today when I go to the gym I absolutely lift a heck of a lot more then 3 pounds and I’m grateful to be strong enough to pick up and toss any “fitness professional” who tells me I should do otherwise.
I’ll let Jason take it over from here…
Women and Muscle
This one is for the ladies. Gentlemen, see you next time.
I’m generalizing here, but an average workout for for the typical female Globo Gym client consists of 30 – 60 minutes on a cardio machine or cardio class of some sort, followed by 10 – 15 minutes of “core” work. If the path from the cardio equipment/class passes too close to the barbells, they must walk very quickly so as not to wake up tomorrow morning with 20 inch biceps and a full beard. Okay, I’m being facetious, but this is a frustrating problem for many a trainer.
Ladies, you must lift weights! No matter what your goals may be, you will get the biggest bang for your buck by lifting heavy things in lots of different ways. I covered the basic movements here so I won’t repeat myself, but we need to talk about the reasons you need to be lifting and the inhibitions you may have.
Unfortunately, the consensus among new female clients is almost always that lifting weights guarantees that you will look like this in short order:
Now I’m absolutely not passing judgment on anyone who actually wants to look like this. In fact, I have nothing but respect for the amount of work this woman put into her sport. But this requires drugs and an unbelievable level of dedication. To assume that even a fraction of these results might happen to you by accident is naive and insulting to female bodybuilders. This woman altered her capacity for hypertrophy (increased muscle size) with artificial hormones, used training methods designed specifically for maximum muscle mass gain, and probably ate more food per meal than you eat all day. Do you intend to do all of those things? No? Then you can’t look like her. Stop worrying about the impossible and load a barbell.
In my gym, the women with the heaviest lifts and the best overall physical capacity are also the women with bodies that are envied by the rest. I think that most women who are new to fitness would assume that you can either be strong or you can be cute. I think most men would disagree – at least men with any fitness experience.
I admit that the following is completely anecdotal, but let’s use Katie as an example. Katie has been a client of mine for just over 3 years and she is a monster. On her first day of training she weighed 172 lbs at 5 feet 2 inches tall. She is a mom with 2 young children, she was eating a standard American diet, she could barely do a sit-up, she was not happy with her body and this is what she looked like:
After deciding she was fed up with her body, she got down to business with her training and nutrition and here are a few of her current stats:
Deadlift – 255 lbs
Back Squat – 200 lbs
Shoulder Press – 85 lbs
Clean – 140 lbs
If you think like the average women, these numbers probably sound appalling and unladylike. Well, you be the judge. This is what Katie looks like now at around 135 lbs:
I should also mention that Katie doesn’t do any “cardio” by the mainstream definition. Anything she does that might resemble “cardio” is done in short intervals. She also does not weigh and measure her food.
I’ve exploited Katie here (thanks Katie!) because her results are typical of all of my heaviest lifting women. Granted, we are not training them exclusively for strength, and that’s not what I’m recommending, but they are absolutely trained with strength and power as a top priority. In fact, when the newbies ask for advice from the top women they are often told to get into lifting and get strong. I have no doubt that Katie would advise the same.
Another reason women need to lift weights is to maintain bone density. Any women reading this who are over 40 years old have probably been emphatically prescribed copious amounts of calcium by their doctor. What the doc neglected to consider is the lack of stimulus necessary for your body to use valuable energy to build more bone. Maybe you should drop off a bunch of lumber in your doctor’s yard without mentioning why, and then get mad at him when he doesn’t use it to build a deck. He’s playing the same game with your body. Why would your body assume that you need more bone density if you never bear loads that would necessitate a stronger frame? In reality, if your diet and exercise are on par with the needs of your species you probably don’t need calcium at all.
If you are having a hard time getting your head around all this, you need to find a quality fitness facility, one that consistently produces excellent results, and talk to their women. And you need to roll the dice and try it. I have already asked you to dramatically change your thinking about nutrition in my previous posts. Now I’m asking you to trust me again. Get motivated. Get educated. Lift heavy. You won’t regret it.