Ladies, I’m going to exercise my powers of clairvoyance for a moment and make some wild predictions:
1. You would like to lose some weight
2. You would like lean, toned muscles
3. You’ve never lifted a barbell in your life!
If any of the above is true, I’d like to convince you to give weightlifting a try. When I say “weightlifting,” I mean the lifting of honest-to-goodness heavy objects, such as barbells, dumbbells, sandbags, and toddlers. No machines allowed!
To help you understand why weightlifting is a Good Thing, we need to bust some myths you might have about lifting weights.
True or False: Lifting heavy weights will make me look like an Amazon Woman.
False – Unless you take steroids or are genetically gifted. Bulging muscles only occur in the presence of lots of testosterone. An average woman doing regular exercise will never grow huge muscles.
True or False: High repetition, low weight exercises are the best choice for toning muscles.
False – In order to get stronger and burn fat, the body needs to be put under stress. Lifting low weights with high repetitions only helps build endurance but if you want to tone your muscles, you need to lose body weight. Lifting heavy weights for a lower number of repetitions stresses the muscles and creates tiny tears in the muscle fiber as well as boosting your metabolism. A faster metabolism and stronger muscles means more fat burned, which will help you tone up.
True or False: Machines promote good form and are safer to use than free weights.
False – If you know how to use free weights. Machines do have some safety advantages. For example, it is impossible to drop the weights and cause injury. However, they have some distinct disadvantages. Most machines have a starting position where the involved joints aren’t fully extended, or “locked.” This can cause stress on the joints and repetitive motion injuries over time. Properly used free weights are very safe, especially when spotters or equipment like a squat cage are available to help if needed.
True or False: Weightlifting can produce that coveted “afterburn” effect and super-charge metabolism.
True! Because weightlifting creates tears in the muscles, the body burns extra calories while repairing the damage. As the muscle repairs itself, it becomes stronger and your muscle mass goes up while your fat mass reduces. Muscles burn energy even while at rest while fat does not. So it makes sense to increase your muscle mass. Aerobic exercise doesn’t cause the same kind of damage, so the metabolism-boosting effects are much shorter lived, but still beneficial.
If you still aren’t convinced, you may want to do some further reading. The American Heart Association recently released a study showing that weightlifting benefits heart patients. Other studies have shown that weight bearing exercise can increase bone strength and may even reverse osteoporosis.
In my next article, I’ll outline a beginner’s weightlifting routine that any healthy person can do. So get your doctor’s clearance and get ready to lift!