Hello again lovely readers! Yet again the days have slipped past me like a raw oyster on a slide and before I know it, it’s been over a week since I last posted. I am totally failing at my goal of writing at least one blog post within a 7 day period, but the upside of this is that I have so many ideas to write about when I finally do get the chance! Do you like the oyster simile? Puts a pretty gross image in your mind, hey? You’re welcome.
I have been busy busy with my second-to-last week of the Live Fit program by Jamie Eason that my man and I are doing (and that I am soooo excited to write about once I finish) and my first week of half marathon training! At this point I have two coming up: the BMO Vancouver Marathon and 1/2 Marathon in May, and the Lululemon SeaWheeze 1/2 Marathon in August. I signed up for Seawheeze about a month ago and didn’t feel nervous at all, but when I signed up for the BMO run last week my heart started pounding as I clicked “Confirm Registration” and I’m not 100% sure why. I think the reality of the fact that I am going to have to run almost 22km in just a few short months set in. I mean, with Seawheeze there’s still almost 6 months to go, and I’m running it with a few girls from work. But with the BMO run, I have 80 days. To run 22km. By myself. I have a feeling that over the next few months I’ll need to amp up my mental training just as much as my physical training.
In between lifting weights, running, and freaking out, I’ve also been doing a lot of studying for my Fitness Theory exam. I thought I knew a lot about health and fitness but I am learning so much more every day. All of this new information combined with the amazing results I’ve had from the Live Fit trainer has made me realize just how important weight lifting is, not only for the men, but for the ladies as well! And I mean real weight lifting here; barbells, heavy dumbbells, shaking muscles, that sort of thing. I know many women are hesitant to lift weights for fear of looking “bulky”, and I used to be one of those women! But weight lifting is critical to helping you achieve your goals, whether it’s fat loss, increased health, toned arms, or a nice round booty (come on guys, you know you want one too). To all mah ladies out there, if I can give you 15 good reasons why you should start lifting weights, can you give me 15 chest presses?
#1: We don’t have the testosterone in our bodies to make us look like Exhibit A above.
I figure I’ll get this one out of the way right off the bat so that maybe some of you will continue reading this. What you see right there, that is not natural. That is the result of hours upon hours of heavy lifting, extreme and unhealthy dieting, and probably a hefty dose of steroids and other growth hormones (however many will deny that). Women just don’t have that same level of testosterone as men that promotes muscle growth like this. Weight lifting will obviously increase the size of your muscles, and they will become more noticeable as you shed body fat, but a focused and well-planned training schedule that includes 4-5 days of lifting a week is not going to make you look like a bulbous, veiny mass.
#2: We have the potential to build beautiful, lean muscle mass.
You want to get “toned”, right? I hate to break it to ya, but sitting on a bike for hours ain’t gonna cut it, and neither are endless reps with 5lb dumbbells. For nice, lean muscles, you want to be completing about 15 reps in a set, and you better be struggling those last three reps! Lifting weights is going to give you curves in all the right places; a little cap on your shoulders, some definition along your upper arms, and a perky bum to name a few.
#3: Muscle eats fat for breakfast.
Well, not really. But sort of. For every pound of muscle you add, your body will burn an extra 5.7 calories per day. That might not sound like a lot, but over time it definitely adds up. As your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolic rate. Your body will begin to expend more energy rebuilding those muscles you broke down in your weight training sessions and feeding them on a daily basis. Insulin now delivers excess sugars to your muscles to use as fuel instead of to your fat cells to use as…..fat. Hello muscles, goodbye excess fat.
#4: As excess fat leaves our bodies it takes increased health risks with it.
Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are only a small sample of the health risks associated with a large percentage of body fat. Incorporating heavy weight training into your weight loss efforts will speed up fat loss, making your insides happy again.
#5: Weight training strengthens those sturdy white things in your body.
You know, bones? Those incredibly important things inside the body we don’t pay much attention to? Believe it or not, our bones are dynamic little (and big!) things, constantly breaking down and rebuilding. Lifting weights strengthens the bones by encouraging new bone growth, allowing them to get stronger and increase in diameter. This is especially important for women, because as early as in our thirties our bones can begin to break down faster than they can rebuild. We are at much higher risk for osteoporosis than men, and lifting weights can help to delay its onset.
#6: It’s pretty badass being one of the only chicks in the weight room.
Sure, it can be intimidating at first, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Do some research, ask some questions, and maybe even invest in the help of a personal trainer to familiarize yourself with the various machines and exercises that are possible with free weights. Remember that everyone had to start somewhere, even the big guys. And you know what’s even more badass than being the only chick in the weight room? Lifting just as much, if not more, than some of the guys in the weight room (even if they’re small dudes, it’s the principle!!!).
#7: Lifting weights will increase the quality of the other physical activities in your life.
Maybe you’ll find it’s easier to walk up a steep hill. Maybe you have better balance when you’re snowboarding. Maybe you’ll find it’s easier to pick your kid up.Whatever your activity level is, you’re going to notice an improvement. You’ll also be less susceptible to injury when performing other physical activities like running or playing sports. When you strengthen your muscles, you strengthen all of the connective tissue and tendons associated with it.
#8: Lifting weights makes you hungrier!
As I mentioned above, your metabolic rate increases as you build muscle, which means you burn more calories each day. I know with many weight loss efforts reducing your caloric intake is a main focus, but calories are what our bodies use for energy and we need to make sure we give it what it needs! You’ll need to eat more to get more calories, but this time they’ll be going to your muscles to burn for fuel instead of gathering in your fat cells. Whereas I can run for over an hour on a bowl of oatmeal and not feel hungry until after my run, I’ll eat the same size breakfast prior to weight lifting and be hungry again halfway through my workout. I dunno about you, but I love to eat. And if I can find a reason to eat more, I’ll take it.
#9: You get measurable results.
While working your way through a weight training program record how heavy you can lift and at how many reps every single workout. As your strength increases you’ll be able to look through your records and see your progress right in front of your eyes (in addition to your beautiful new muscles!). How’s that for motivation?
#10: You’ll learn how strong you really are.
Us girls are stereotyped as being the weaker sex, and many of us had accepted that. I know I did. “Pick up that 65lb barbell? Yeah f*&$^ckin’ right” I used to think. I just didn’t think it would ever be possible for me to lift heavy things, but it’s amazing what a little sweat and hard work can show you. I’ve learned I’m capable of many things I thought were impossible. Take your newfound physical strength and use it to help you develop your mental strength as well.
#11: Weight training can be a social activity.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. I’ve learned how to use different machines and how much things weigh by asking people. Someone may even ask you for help spotting or setting them up for an exercise. You’re in a room full of people sharing a common interest, you’re bound to meet someone if you want to!
#12: Lifting weights improves your fitness.
Yeah, I know that’s an obvious one. But lifting weights increases the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume and use at one time, also known as your VO2 max. The greater your VO2 max, the “easier” exercise will be for you.
#13: It gets the happy juices flowin’.
It’s not just cardio that stimulates the release of endorphins; weight lifting does too! When released, these little neurotransmitters can leave us feeling elevated and happy, even euphoric, for hours after exercise. This makes all the little things in life much more enjoyable.
#14: Weight lifting is a great stress reliever.
Feelin’ pissed? Put on some Pantera and go take your anger out on some weights.
#15: That ass ain’t gonna shape itself.
Like I mentioned above, lifting weights can greatly enhance your curves, gluteals included. You can completely change the shape of your butt with the help of squats, dead lifts, and lunges. And some more squats.
So there you have it! 15 reasons why you need to go start lifting weights. I think you owe me 15 chest presses now. Google is your friend when it comes to learning how to lift weights safely and effectively. There is also a ton of great videos and helpful articles at http://www.bodybuilding.com. Once you’ve done your research you can start to build a program that will work for you! Have fun, be safe, and fall in love with weight lifting.