Why do I have to lift heavy weights? I only want to tone and not bulk

Let’s get this straight from the start; women by nature are not set up to build muscle like men.  Men have 15-20 times more testosterone than women, and unless a woman is supplementing this with muscle building hormone (think Russian shot putter), the only body they’ll develop from lifting heavy weights is a lean and athletic one!

Want more muscle tone?

Want to be stronger?

Want more confidence and a feeling of empowerment?

Want to lose body fat?

Want to get fitter?

Yes? Then lift some weights!

And I don’t mean the same pink dumbbell you’ve been going after for the last few months. Lifting the same 3kg dumbbell every time you step into the gym for endless repetitions will not get you more toned, fitter or stronger. Your body needs to be challenged in order for it to adapt.  Performing 20+ reps will do little for you if it’s what you already know. You need to reach for something else – something a little heavier perhaps?

There is a lot of misconception about ‘toning’, for which mainstream media has a lot to answer for. If you want to get ‘toned’, you need to build or maintain muscle, whilst simultaneously losing body fat.  That’s what toning is, more muscle and less fat. And challenging yourself with weights will help you do both of these things.

Want to look and feel better? A kilogram of muscle looks a lot different to a kilogram of fat. They both weigh the same – a pound is a pound – but muscle is far denser and thus looks smaller at the same weight. This means you’ll look better both in, and out, of your clothes.  More muscle also contributes to a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the amount of calories your body burns at rest daily – which means more calories burned, just being.

The benefit of strength training extends beyond aesthetics and it becomes even more important the older you get. It has been proven to increase bone, ligament and tendon strength, which is shown to decrease with age. Weight training therefore can be seen as anti-ageing, which is a massive boost for those of us who are ‘young at heart’!

If you want to burn more calories at rest, forget about “trendy” words such as toning, longer and leaner.  There is no such thing as making a muscle longer. I spoke recently to one of the members who said her friend’s trainer was advocating Pilates post weight training to ‘stretch’ the muscle to make it longer!

Unfortunately this is not true. We are given our muscles at birth, and the insertion points are the same throughout our lifetime – this is basic anatomy. We cannot move a muscles insertion point to make it stretch, if we could we’d all be walking round like X-Men.

There’s no substitute for hard work, honestly.

Give lifting weights a go and try building up some muscle. I guarantee you’ll feel stronger and ready to cope with what life throws at you.