I love answering all of your health & fitness questions, but there are a few that drive me absolutely insane. The rumors that float around the fitness realm are ridiculous scare-tactics that are really easy to fall for, particularly because they lend t
hemselves to the "don't push yourself too hard" attitude that many feel most comfortable with. It can be extremely difficult to get someone to work harder than they're used to when they're afraid that they will not get the results they're looking for.
I think that these "easy way out" solutions are products of a fitness & diet industry that make their money by selling the next quick fix that never truly works. If you're never truly accomplishing your goals, you'll always be spending your money on the next plan/pill/diet/workout.
No rumor, however, boils my blood quite like this one, and I'd like to address it once and for all in order to put it to bed.
RUMOR: I'm scared of bulking up and looking like a big female body builder. Will I get big if I use weights that are heavier than I'm used to?
The answer to this question is simple: Not unless you are willing to dedicate your life to it.
Women often see photos of female body builders and think that they run the risk of looking like them if they use heavy weights. I liken this to someone saying "I don't want to read WebMD because I don't want to become a doctor."
Really? You think it's that easy to accomplish something that people work their whole lives for?
The bottom line is that it takes a lot more than that, and when you suggest that you could get that kind of physique from a few training sessions a week with 15-20 pound dumbbells, you're not only inflating your own ego, but insulting and diminishing the dedication and discipline that female bodybuilders have.
Females with big bulking muscles have to follow very specific training programs (often training for multiple hours a day) and have to eat an excess of calories in order to maintain their physique. However, women with a "lean" fitness physique, who are "toned," use very heavy weights to create their bodies, but they do not consume an excess of calories to increase their size. In fact, they pair their weight training with just enough cardio to ensure that their body fat percentage stays down while their muscle size increases or stays just right.
That's right: female body builders train for multiple hours a day and eat an excess of calories in order to get bigger. That's not easy, nor something that happens by accident.
Contrary to this line of thinking, building muscle mass with heavy weights is one of the best ways to lose and maintain a healthy weight. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even after your workout! Without that muscle to back you up, all of your hard work is worth a lot less.
In order to have a solid body that doesn't jiggle, you need to increase the size of your muscles, and you can't do that with light weights and easy reps. You need to use heavy weights to grow those muscles, and unless you're quitting your job & dedicating your life to becoming a female bodybuilder, you won't "get big."
So don't fear! You might think you want to "tone up" by using light weights so that you don't "get big," but what you really want to do is use heavy weights to shape your muscles, eat your vegetables and don't get mad at your trainer when she says it's time for burpees.