"Lifting Weights Will Make Me Bulky"
(And Other Lies Women Believe about Weightlifting)
I can't even count how many times we've had the well-intentioned chick come into the gym concerned about becoming too "manly" or "bulky" from lifting weights. It's understandable - as ladies we've been conditioned to head toward the cardio and avoid anything that resembles a barbell. After all, we want to avoid that really horrendous (joke) man look and instead look something more like this.
Let me just throw it out there. If you have a burning desire to look like this poor, hungry looking gal you probably should just stick to cardio. Obsessive cardio is great for ridding your body of all muscle mass and give you that always-desirable starving look. You'll also have the added benefit of having to keep increasing your cardio to maintain this look. Oh and don't plan on eating, well, pretty much anything if you're trying to maintain. Muscle is way more effective at burning calories, but since you don't have any, I'm guessing everything is going to stick around.
A recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out a few benefits for women and weight lifting that I think are great examples of why we should stop hating the barbell and instead embrace the iron. You can read the full article by clicking the link above.
Lift Heavy Weights Every Week for Maximum Strength, Fitness and Health
If you get nothing else from this post, this is the one thing you need to absorb. You MUST train heavy lifts. Put the 5-pound dumbbells away, just put them back in the corner where you found them. Light them on fire while you're at it. I'm talking about loading several 45-pound plates on a 45-pound barbell and deadlifting and squatting. Of course, heavy is relative and everyone is at a different stage in their strength development. But whether you squat 100 pounds or 400 (and yes ladies, it is highly possible), you need to routinely hit heavy lifts that are heavy for you.
Bonus Benefit of Lifting Heavy:
Want an awesome looking bodacious butt? Squat and deadlift heavy, end of story.
Neglecting the Upper Body = No Sexy Arms and Weak Lifts
This goes for everyone, but especially us ladies. Train your upper body at least twice a week for strength and muscle development. Do NOT miss this second day. Since we tend to be weaker in the upper body, we need every workout we can get. Your worst lift (typically the upper body lifts for women) starts to degrade the fastest after a period of inadequate training activity. This goes for anyone, male or female. So if you're having a short training week due to a vacation/moving/a hectic and crazy week, and you can only have two strength training days that week, let BOTH of those days be upper body. It's really that important.
For Faster Progress: Train With People Who Push You
This is not really a part of any programming per se, but it's a BIG part of your success. Train with other people -- and with a coach -- who care about your goals enough to push you past what you think you're capable of. This will bring out the best in you and will help consistently push you towards new goals. Unfortunately for a lot of women, they train with other people and with coaches who simply don't believe it's necessary for them to lift past a certain weight. Staying at the same weight forever will not benefit you in any way. You won't get stronger. You won't develop more muscle. You won't get more toned. There's usually no ill-intention meant with this poor coaching, it really just stems from a misconception that women should be strength trained differently and handled with kid-gloves. If your training crew consists of people, whether men or women, who patronize you and don't seem to think you need to lift past a certain weight because you're female -- even if the weight is light for you -- then you need to move on to a more ambitious group of folks. There is a big difference in the progress you will make.
I'm totally not a cardio hater. In fact, it can be a great supplement to other type of activity - including lifting weights. If you have an issues looking like one of these girls, who obviously lift heavy weights and can probably eat a cheeseburger with no problem (muscle burns calories), then you probably shouldn't lift anything heavy. Oh, by the way, there is heavy lifting in the WOD today. Get ripped ladies! And guys too. :)