Why Women Should Get Off the Cardio Equipment and Hit the Weights

I can't begin to tell you how many women and girls have shared with me their concern for getting "bulky." In order to avoid this, they focus hours on the eliptical, running on treadmills, and climbing the stair master. Afterwards, they may walk across the gym and pick up 5, 10, or 15 pound dumbbells to do a couple sets or curls or presses. I rarely see women curl or press dumbbells that are so heavy they can barely finish their set of 8-10 repetitions. Why is this?

After asking around, I came up with this answer: women are afraid that they are going to look like men or a become huge like a bodybuilder. The reality is, women don't have enough testosterone to become bulky. The women who are huge body builders have a combination of amazing genes, and supplement like nobody's business. That kind of lifestyle is a full time job, and will not be the result of a woman or competitive female athlete adding heavy weight lifting to their program. 

Lifting for women

There is a misnomer that women need to be doing a different kind of workout from men. This is completely false! Not only are men focused on lifting heavier than most women at the gym, but they have the added benefit of higher amounts of testosterone. Why put ourselves at a disadvantage by picking up the light weights to once AGAIN work on more muscle endurance instead of lifting heavy, getting strong, and looking amazing?

The female-focused workout industry will tell us that by doing their specific workouts, women will get "long, toned muscles." This is all false, as the way a muscle looks is entirely based on your genetics. The amount of muscle you actually gain is entirely based on how heavy you lift, and how much you supplement with protein. I can guarantee right now if you walked into any gym across the U.S., you will see women on the cardio machines and men at the free weights and stations. It's no wonder so many women question their results in the gym, and often give up after months of hard work on the elliptical. 

For wrestlers specifically, we are one of the few sports which require both fast and slow twitch muscles. This means we must train both our explosiveness and our endurance. However, being strategic about your cardiovascular training is still important. Running the same miles as professional runners will not be beneficial to the needs of our sport. Unlike a runner, we need the ability to lift our competition! 

The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism becomes

Why is cardio not the answer?

First, if you spend hours on the cardio machines, you will loose weight. It's the basic concept of input versus output, and there's no mistaking the result. However, there is a problem: you are actually slowing down your metabolism. By focusing on loosing fat through cardio, you begin to loose muscle along with it. So all that weight you've lost? A large portion is most likely muscle as well. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism becomes. This is why athletes eat every few hours. Not only have they metabolized what they consumer earlier, but you have to eat more to sustain the muscle tone. This comes from lifting HEAVY and having well balanced meals of whole foods and very few processed foods. 

How do I see changes in my body?

In order to force your body to change, you’ve got to lift HEAVY. When you push yourself to failure during repetitions, you are in fact telling your muscles that you are not strong enough to do the work. Your body will decide to build the muscle to support the increased workload. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn daily regardless of activity. This is why men can eat more and lose weight faster than women, they have higher amounts of muscle. 

Back to those body builders again and why you won't turn into pure bulky muscle. They lift a completely different way than an average woman or athlete should. Body builders focus on isolating muscles, so they can create the illusion of strength and not have any athletic characteristics. An athlete is developing muscles that pertains to their movement in sport, and an average woman for day to day movement. This allows for a space where you maximize your strength in movements that pertain to the way you live your life, and get amazing results.

So please, if you are an athlete who is looking to increase strength for sport or a female trying to lose weight or get in shape, put away the feather weights.