Every month, I get super pumped to see what a few of my favorite magazines have in store for me. I mean, who doesn’t love getting mail? Make that mail about fitness stuff and I’m immediately on Cloud Nine (<—I’m easy to please). So imagine my rage and disappointment when I stumbled into a workout designed by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson in this month’s Health Magazine, and read THIS gem:
Using lighter weights gives women a sexy, feminine look…I’m not a fan of the potential long-term damage heavier weights can do to your muscles. – Tracy Anderson
Mind you, those lighter weights she’s referring to are three pounds! THREE! A toy chihuahua weighs more than that! I suppose Paris Hilton is screwed then for all those times she’s posed with Tinkerbelle on the red carpet.
I’ve heard Tracy say a lot of idiotic things such as ‘women should never lift more than 3 pounds’ or ‘Spinning makes your thighs bulky’ and that her workouts are superior because she incorporates ‘muscle confusion’ techniques (SIDE NOTE: Muscle confusion is not science). Of course, I disagree with Tracy because let’s be honest here, there is no research-based evidence for her claim that lifting heavy weights results in harmful muscle damage for women. In fact, as an advocate and student of strength training, I know her claim is false.
All women should be empowered to enter the weight room and enjoy the challenge of a heavy barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell or Mack truck tire. Whatever floats your boat. Here are my top 4 reasons women should be lifting heavy weights:
Lifting creates definition and shapes your physique
If body transformation is your thing, then lifting weights is the way to go. No one has ever sculpted their physique with 3lb weights and that’s because it’s not challenging enough to cause any stress to the muscle groups. The stress of a heavy load creates tiny tears in the muscle fiber that must then repair itself to grow. No stress. No growth. Waste. Of. Time. Of course, heaviness isn’t the only things to challenge and change our bodies. There’s intensity, time under tension, volume…all sorts of variables that make a wonderful difference.
Better for fat loss than cardio
I’m not knocking cardio because heck, I love a good run, but those long sessions on the elliptical or treadmill is actually doing the opposite for your goals. You see, long, slow and steady forms of cardio comes at the expense of both fat and muscle loss, and if you’re looking to get lean, muscle loss should be the last thing on your agenda. Research shows that the more muscle our bodies have, the more calories we burn because it uses up energy even when we’re at rest. So, it pays to work them out! Muscles are never ‘idle’ even if we’re asleep. Tissues are repairing, synthesizing, regenerating and doing all sorts of scientific things to keep busy. (<—I would make a great doctor, don’t ya think?). The hours of jogging and ellipitcizing is great for a sweat and for initial weight loss but it does little to build muscle. Lean muscle is where it’s at!
Decreases the risk of bone loss
Bone loss is a big concern for women although not the sexiest reason why we should all lift weights. But look at the facts: Studies predict that osteoporosis will affect as many as half of Americans over age 50 by 2020. This could be you! Strength training reverses that affect by slowing down bone loss and possibly even building up new bone. Further, the strong muscles built during strength training keeps us coordinated, balanced and strong enough to withstand falls that lead to fractures. If you’re 20 this may not be a big concern, but when you start creeping up into old age, this shit matters. And I’m not dumb enough to think I’m invincible just because I’m 28. I don’t drink milk so I’m already at a disadvantage here, so I HAVE to lift to keep up with my bone health! With the healthcare system in this country in the gutter, women need to take preventative health into their own hands.
Better mood, better attitude, better life
Ask women who lift how weight training has changed their lives and each will give you a different answer, but one thing is for sure, not one has ever regretted a session with the iron. Exercise in general beats depression and strength training goes the extra mile by empowering women to do things they never imagined they could. Not only will daily tasks get easier to do on your own, but your legacy will live on for decades to come when you beat out some wimpy dude in a bar in a push-up or chin-up contest. If you’re someone that battles with depression or just the winter blues, exercise will do you a ton of good. Picking up a barbell, though, will have you feeling like you can take on the world and there’s no better feeling.
With so many reasons to love strength training every woman should give lifting a try under the guidance of a proper coach. It irks me to see Tracy’s doctrine spread to the masses like its gospel. As far as weight training goes she is dead wrong. This is not a matter of opinion; it’s a scientific fact. It’s unfortunate that popular magazines continue to feed the stereotype that women can’t or shouldn’t lift heavy weights. It’s a disservice to the highly trained coaches and trainers who have devoted their entire lives to strength training athletes and people like us.
Spread the truth…go lift something heavy!