While cardio has its sweaty benefits, building muscle is just as important when it comes to your heath. Not only does it help build stronger , but it also burns more fat and calories and helps you maintain a healthier heart. (And those are only a few of the strength training benefits.)
But that doesn’t mean you have to lift heavy to get the perks you’re after — bodyweight exercises are a great way build strength and muscle if you’re just starting out, can’t make it to the gym, or don’t have any equipment on hand. Plus, by using your own bodyweight as resistance, you can laser-focus on your form…
Lifting weights will cause you to bulk like the Hulk
As a fitness coach, I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard women dismiss strength training because they “don’t want to get too big” and would rather “just tone.” But unless you plan on taking anabolic steroids, have insane genetics, and dedicate multiple hours daily to training, then you’re never going to look bulky…
The cold, hard truth is that women have 1/15 to 1/20th the amount of testosterone as men, and testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for muscle growth. So it’s genetically impossible to develop a hulk-like physique, unless that is your actual goal—and even then it’s extremely difficult to achieve. Female bodybuilders have trained for many years to achieve a very specific look, and often use anabolic steroids to assist them. So please, once and for all, let’s give this one a rest.!
Lighter weights is safer
you strength train, but you’ve fallen victim to the idea that using tiny dumbbells for an endless amount of reps is going to give you the “toned” look you’re after. Resorting to this negates the real muscle-building benefits of strength training.
It’ll increase muscular endurance, but it won’t help you increase muscle mass or build a more athletic physique. If you want to increase lean mass (muscle), you’ll want to stick to a lower 6-12 rep range and use a heavier weight.
Not sure how to choose the right amount of weight to lift? Start light and see how many reps you can do. If you’re aiming for ten reps, but you’re able to perform 14, then add about two pounds, rest for a minute (so your muscles aren’t exhausted and you get a better idea of what you’re able to lift), then go again. Do this until you’re using a weight that allows you to perform the desired number of reps.
Another clue: Pay attention to how you feel. You should be able to complete the last two to three reps with proper form, but they should feel tough.
Quality always trumps quantity, though, so don’t push yourself so hard that you can’t perform the exercise properly. Find a reputable personal trainer, learn the proper technique and challenge yourself.
As for that whole “long, lean muscles” concept, well, it’s not realistic either. You cannot change the length of your muscles, just as you can’t make yourself taller by stretching. Muscles have a fixed origin and insertion point. No amount of stretching or training (regardless of the method) can change that…
Best method for fat loss is cardio
It increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day—even when you’re not working out. The result is more lean muscle mass and less body fat, and that’s something you can’t get that with just cardio.
And because I like lists, here’s one full of other health bennies you get from strength training:
- Increased bone density
- Better balance, coordination, agility, power, and mobility
- An ability to do everyday activities without worrying about getting hurt
- Fewer symptoms associated with arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, and back pain
- Improved sleep patterns, mood, and stress levels
As you can see, strength training does more than make you look—and feel—confident AF. And the benefits only multiply as we get older. As we age, our bodies are at an increased risk of sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (decrease in bone density).