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Will lifting Weights mean you put on 'bulk'?

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Will lifting Weights mean you put on 'bulk'?

One of the great side effects of the Crossfit Phenomenon has been that weight training is no longer the domain of bodybuilders. Women are now actively seeking opportunities to train with weights.

This means training with barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight and dumbells. There are even gyms which run women only classes emulating the worlds strongest man events.

But what are the advantages to following a strength and conditioning program?

I originally started my health journey by seeking endurance challenges. Marathons, trail runs, barefoot running etc. My bodytype actually loves this way of training, I enjoy running for miles and losing myself for a little while.

Running, cycling, swimming are essential for heart health but they can be hard on your body, particularly if you race or push yourself each time you are out. Many people don't focus on form and run just to burn calories.

What I found was that I slowly started to get injuries, I got stiffer, lighter and my posture remained poor. I lacked muscle tone and generally felt 'weak'. I could run far which was fantastic, my heart was powerful. Athletically I was one dimensional.

Strength training changed all that - I got stronger, more toned, my body fat reduced and my aches and pains disappeared. I actually felt like I got taller! This was because my posture improved and I felt more 'impressive'.

So why should you consider training for strength? What are the advantages?

1. You build lean muscle - great for those over 35 who will be losing muscle! It's part of the fight as we age!

2. You increase your metabolic rate - muscle is 'expensive' and needs calories. This means with more muscle you will use more energy. This means training less and still burning calories!

3. Increase your bone density - yes osteoporosis should not be an inevitable consequence of ageing. Strength training will make sure your bones remain strong.

4. Heavy weights build muscle tone - light weights WILL NOT get you toned. They just won't stimulate your body to adapt and encourage sloppy form.

5. Strength helps you with your endurance, flexibility and mobility. Stronger, more stabile joints are safer joints.

6. It's one of the best tonics for back pain and posture. In order to lift weights your need to maintain good posture, this helps your back, joints and means you will keep your spine nicely aligned.

7. It's about mastery - you can't lift heavy weights without focusing on form. So you shift from merely 'expending energy' to building your skill. A journey towards mastery is so much more fulfilling.

So to the title of the Newsletter: Won't I bulk up?

The truth is it's incredibly hard to bulk up. If you look 99% of men in the gym lifting 'heavy' weights, they are far from fitness models or even very very average body builders. It's true that men on a half decent lifting program with the right nutrition will get a nice pump and get bigger but this just won't happen for women.

Shout out to some clients:

Susan - she can swing the 32kg kettlebell (close to half bodyweight). She has developed tremendous skill with a kettlebell over the last 10 months.

Sam - who said she wanted to lift heavier with her deadlift - bodyweight and beyond.

Lorna - who managed to do a couple of press ups after a few months of proper strength training

You see, genetics just aren't on a woman's side when it comes to muscle size. I know many very strong women, but they aren't big. In order to get the tone most people want they have to replace FAT with Muscle.

Because of less testosterone women should lift heavy to get a toned, curvey, hour glass look.

To look like the 0.00001% of women who enter bodybuilding contests the variables and dedication needed would stun you.

From years of heavy training, total focus on nutrition and training, starvation and steroids etc.

Even women who are more muscular in sport have dedicated themselves so thoroughly that they have specialised, dedicated hours upon hours and their body reflects the sports needs. It's almost impossible to describe the volume and dedication to training they have. Plus their struggle to maintain the muscle.

It's important that women get strong! An athletic physique is a wonderful thing, it takes damn hard work but the pay off in aesthetics and function can't be denied. Strength is a virtue, and should be valued, particularly to combat the general body shaming in the media.

I'm experiencing this new paradigm shift, and it's exciting. It's been led over the last 5 or so years by some exceptional instructors and role models.

Where does this leave men? That's for another article! It's your job to embrace a softer approach - rather than bench every day!!!

Give me a shout if you need some ideas! My 28 Day Transformation program and one to one training focus's on getting results for women and men using strength and conditioning and nutrition. We lift heavy weights and have some fun doing so!

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