"Girls Should Not Lift Weights"

Girls should stay as far away from the weight room as possible is definitely the opinion that most of them have.  Careful, if you look at that dumbbell you might bloat out and swell up like a balloon.

My inordinate level of sarcasm hasn’t come out in many of my latest posts, hopefully the above comment made up for that.  Moving on.  Now that I am back at the gym doing a small amount of training I have been reintroduced to the unfortunate naivety of girls.  Now, I will say I don’t mean naivety in a malicious way.  Rather I mean you are very gullible to think that for whatever reason your body works differently to a man’s.  Granted there are a few minor differences like boobs, wide hips and an innate ability to nag but those aside men and women are the same.

A good friend of mine likes to explain a girls predicament like this (be aware that I am generalising, and of course this is not the case across the board with all women);

  1. Girls read girls magazines such as Cosmo.
  2. These magazines have apparently beautiful women pasted across every page.
  3. These pictures condition you to think you have to be skinny.  It’s the only way to look good.
  4. What nobody thinks about is this; women do the writing for these magazines and the editors are women.  Basically any contribution to these magazines is given by a woman.

Now ask yourself this; are you trying to attract other women or men?  Because if it was a man writing that magazine you would have ZERO images of skinny women.  We prefer curves (in the right places) rather than skin and bone.  It is women telling other women that skinny is the way to look.

Let me tell you that the most attractive feature on a woman is a small waist with wide hips. Anyway, moving on; monotonous training like running mundanely on a treadmill, pedalling aimlessly on a bike, using the stepper machine and putting as much of your bodyweight as possible on the arms (this one always makes me laugh) are all examples of pointless workouts.

Let’s get to the nub of the matter, you don’t want to get big, you don’t want to get bulky, you want to look good, right?  First and foremost, has your body changed one bit since you began your monotonous cardio?  I’m betting it hasn’t.  If you do weight training or any form of resistance training your are probably going to get stronger, right?  Remember, strong doesn’t directly correspond to big and bulky but it does correspond to becoming more muscular.  There is an upside to this so bear with me.

Firstly; muscle is waaaaaaaaaaaay smaller than fat.  Take a look at the two images below and tell me you don’t want more muscle on your body.

.     Girls Should Not Lift Weights

 Girls Should Not Lift Weights

Even without looking at those images.  Consider a muscular man, now consider a fat man. Who looks better?  And more importantly, who is smaller?  The muscular man of course.

Now ask yourself, as a woman, what makes you any different?

Time for some science.

Reduced Disease

I have talked a lot about insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc.  For the most part I have focused how these are affected by your diet.  Type 2 diabetes is a global pandemic and is estimated to affect over 300 million people worldwide in the next 12 years so pay attention (Lowell & Schulman, 2005).  I haven’t spoken much about how muscle can affect these diseases.  It may come as surprising to many of you but increasing your muscle mass has actually been shown to decrease the incidence of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and many other metabolic diseases.  Skeletal muscle and the liver are your two key organs with regard to maintaining blood sugar balance within your body (Lowell & Schulman, 2005).  The reason for this is simple; by increasing your muscle you increase your body’s ability to utilise the nutrients you take in from food.  Basically, if you eat your body is more likely to send the calories to your muscles rather than to your fat stores.  As we have already seen, it is more appealing to have bigger muscles than bigger fat cells.

Don’t worry, you’re not going to gain 20-30 pounds of muscle any time soon.  If you really worked on packing on muscle and this was your only focus with regard to your training and your diet then you might be lucky to gain 1 pound  a week.  You will probably be very lucky if you even gain 1 pound a week to be honest.  The point I am trying to make here is that even with resistance/weight training it is unlikely for many girls to put on that much muscle. What is realistic however, is that you become stronger, healthier as mentioned above and you increase your resting metabolic rate and LOSE UGLY FAT.


Resting Metabolic Rate

Resistance training increases your body’s energy expenditure at rest.  For those of you still confused; contracting skeletal muscle uses intra and extra muscular substrates to generate energy (Hargreaves, 2000) meaning muscle takes more energy (calories) to maintain that fat, meaning at rest your body needs to burn more calories to stay alive. That’s a positive, right?

In addition, let’s compare weight training to traditional cardio.  There is a lovely little thing called EPOC.  Many of you will have heard of this; it stands for post Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.  It means again, while you are at rest you are burning huge amounts of energy.  Research has shown that resistance training and/or sprint interval training increase your metabolic rate for up to 36 hours after you finish working out.  In short this means, when you leave the gym your body is using more energy than it normally would thus contributing to a lean you.  However, with traditional cardio exercises, while you may burn a lot of calories during your workout it stops right away i.e. EPOC is not a factor in this case.

Hopefully this tells you something; traditional cardio is dead, or it should be anyway.

Without the intention of offending anybody reading, but take a look around you the next time you are at the gym.  How many of the girls AND guys on treadmills actually look like they work out?  In general the guys are skinny fat and the girls have rolls in all the usual problem areas; hips, thighs, butt, arms, belly.  Now look down to the weights section.  Look for some girls, they will all look pretty damn good (usually).

Cardio is BORING

If research is ever done assessing the psychological state of those pounding away on a treadmills for years versus a person who has been doing short, high-intensity resistance training I wouldn’t be surprised if the results were hugely in favour of the treadmill runner hating their lives.  Again, cardio is mundane and incredibly unchallenging.

Please don’t try to lie to me and say that cardio is fun, and that you enjoy doing the same thing over and over again all while looking at the same spot on the same wall week in and week out.  I just won’t believe you.