It’s hard to get online or on social media without seeing the results of some hard work spent in the gym as women post pictures of their body transformations and weight-room success. While interest in the fitness industry grows at a rapid pace, there is still a common belief that weight training can make women “bulk up.” There is also a false idea circulating that it is possible to train and diet your way into stage-ready body perfection that is everlasting.
When women come in to consult with me looking for increased health or body transformation, I often hear one or both of these things: “I want to look like I compete,” when perhaps they are really just looking for muscle tone, and, “I don’t want to get bulky muscles,” after seeing women bodybuilders that have more than likely used chemical substances to drastically lower their body fat percentage and improve their physique. I have an issue with both statements for two reasons.
- Looking like you compete is extremely hard to obtain, even harder to maintain, and unfortunately many competing women are using some type of chemical substance to achieve their goals, which makes it even more unattainable. Furthermore, the effects of overtraining and strictly dieting can greatly impact your metabolism, hormones, and personal relationships in a negative way.
- It is physically impossible for women to bulk like men do by simply using weights for training. Given the science behind muscle hypertrophy and the different levels of testosterone in men and women, a normal weight routine will not grow overly large muscles in women.
That being said, there are very real benefits to training your body under resistance! Resistance training is simply an activity that involves some form of resistance against a muscle contraction. Different types of resistance include body weight/gravity, free weights, weight machines, cable machines, or rubber resistance bands.
Here are real benefits associated with training your body under resistance. They include, but are not limited to:
- Building total body strength and core stability for a healthy spine and healthy, functional body.
- Increased anaerobic power for maximum athletic performance. This includes faster and stronger explosive movements like swimming, throwing, jumping, sprinting, and agility.
- Decreased body fat percentage, increased lean muscle mass, and overall positive changes in body composition.
- Increase in flexibility for healthier muscles and full range action across all planes of motion.
- Building muscle mass with resistance training promotes strong healthy bones. This is especially important for women over 40 years of age at risk for osteoporosis.
- A healthier, better functioning brain with improved alertness and coordination.
How to keep Your Workouts Interesting by Utilizing the Varying Types of Resistance:
If you have begun or are currently working out with bodyweight, try adding a few seated machines to your routine. This way you can add weight slowly and increase as you gain strength.
Spending too much time on the machines because it’s all you know? Switch to free weights a few days a week and accomplish the same types of movement with dumbbells to challenge stability and increase proprioception.
If you regularly train with free weights, try adding cable resistance to your workouts. This type of resistance allows you to move in several different planes of motion while being pulled in opposing directions. This can activate new stabilizing muscles and core strength.
If you have done all you can do with cables, try using resistance band exercises instead! Resistance bands are a new level of resistance and can wake up your central nervous system.
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