Step away from the little dumbbells! Lifting heavier weights is the secret to scoring a leaner, fitter, hotter body
The fear of bulking up to anything close to these muscular extremes has long kept many women away from the weights section at the gym. But steering clear of lifting anything heavier than your hairdryer is a big mistake.
“Physical strength begets mental strength,” says Jill Coleman, former figure competitor and co-founder of the weight-loss company Metabolic Effect. “Finishing a tough weight-training session makes you feel like you can take on the world.” In addition, lifting weights could be the ticket to achieving the slim, tight body you desire, since strength training boosts lean muscle mass and fires up your metabolism. Still not convinced? Read on as we bust four common muscle myths and show you the way to a smokin’ body.
MUSCLE MYTH 1: Lifting “heavy” makes you bulky
“The fear that one will suddenly develop large amounts of muscle from lifting weights is akin to worrying you’ll be involuntarily called up to the Olympic gymnastics team just because you did a few cartwheels in the park,” says Koch. “It just won’t happen.” According to Koch, women have testosterone levels that are about 15 to 20 times lower than those of men – hormonally speaking, we are just not likely to resemble The Hulk. Ever.
Plus, “that bulky look is usually the result of adding muscle without monitoring your diet or burning fat,” says Coleman. “You need to burn fat as well as build muscle to lose centimetres.” People look more defined when they have less fat on top of their muscles.
MUSCLE MYTH 2: Muscle can turn into fat
These are two totally different types of tissue. “With lack of use, muscle cells atrophy. If they shrink to a certain size, they undergo apoptosis,” says Koch. (They die.) That’s not to say there’s not a relationship: if you lose muscle mass, you’ll burn fewer kilojoules per day. If your intake remains the same, the excess food energy that is not burnt can be stored as fat.
MUSCLE MYTH 3: Cardio burns more fat
“I still get clients who think they need to do extra cardio to drop the weight before they start lifting,” says celeb trainer Valerie Waters. “But if you want to get hot in a hurry, head straight to the weights section.”
Lifting weights increases the baseline number of kilojoules you burn each day. “Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in our bodies, so the more muscle you have, the more energy you expend just to keep living,” says Koch.
MUSCLE MYTH 4: Lifting will make you gain weight
It’s not so much a myth as a misunderstood truth. “Leaner” and “lighter” are not interchangeable terms – that means the scale may not tip much and may even go up, says trainer Chad Landers. Make no mistake: the physical results can be dramatic. “The more muscle I’ve gained, the smaller and more compact I’ve got,” says actress Camryn Grimes, who entered her first power-lifting competition in early 2013. “My jeans are looser and I’ve gone from a medium top to a small.” Landers’ top advice: stay off the scale and use your jeans to measure your progress.
This article was originally featured on www.womenshealthmag.com