To Lift or Not to Lift?
There are a lot of misconceptions about weightlifting, specifically when it comes to women lifting weights. Some fear lifting will make you bulky, or that you have to be a body builder to hit the weight room at the club. To debunk some of these myths, we spoke to the experts to get to the bottom of it all.
According to Coach Josh, our Manager of Leadership and Development (plus a coach for the In-Shape Run Club and Find Your FYT), there are eight primary benefits to adding weight lifting to your routine.
- It improves bone density. “This is great for our senior members who typically shy away from weight lifting. But it can help fight things like osteoporosis. Our team of trainers are all well-educated on how to add weight lifting to anyone’s routine – especially our seniors,” explained Coach Josh.
- It improves quality of life. Not only does it improve your confidence, but it helps you manage every day activities and tasks like loading groceries into your car or wrangling toddlers. The other hidden benefit is when trained properly, weight lifting can help reduce the risk of injuries.
- It improves whole body metabolism. “Once the muscle is there, it will actively work on helping you decrease overall bodyfat,” he said.
- It can lower your chance of diabetes.
- It leads to better heart health, including lowering blood pressure.
- It can make you fit and lean. “You won't necessarily get big and bulky. Women who weight lift and eat right will see a fit and lean body, rather than a big and bulky one,” reassured Coach Josh.
- It helps you sleep sounder. Weight lifting, and regular exercise helps you sleep better.
- You’ll smile more. Those who participated in a regular exercise program report reduced anxiety and depression symptoms as well as improved self-esteem. Not to mention that big boost in brain power. Weight lifting is an important part of any exercise program.
When it comes to weights or cardio, Andrew Sterkel the fitness manager at our Palmdale West club says it all depends on your goals. “Generally, a combination of both weight lifting and cardio is the most effective program for a health and wellness,” he said.
To tone up, you have to build muscle. To build muscle, you have to lift weights.
Not only will it help you tone up, but lifting weights will also strengthen your cardiovascular system. Sterkel recommends timing your rest periods when weight lifting to get a cardio effect. “Try only having 30 to 60 seconds of rest for moderate weight, or 60 to 90 seconds of rest for more challenging weights.”
So how often do you have to pump that iron? Jason Coulie, In-Shape’s senior manager of fitness education, says this is a common question he gets.
“Sure, you ‘could’ lift weights every day, but it’s not going to speed up your results. The real question is ‘should’ you lift weights every day? And the answer I give to that is absolutely not,” he said.
He continued, “Don’t get me wrong, hard work is an important part of productive and rewarding workouts. But hard work is nothing without proper direction. If you don’t have a good plan, no amount of effort will magically make your results appear.”
Coulie urges that rest and recovery are critical components of any successful training program. “I know that gets said a lot, and we think we’re getting proper recovery, but let’s be real. Do we always get our eight to nine hours of sleep? Are our macros always on point? Do we always drink enough water, or do we maybe drink a bit more coffee than we should?
A lot of people worry that lifting weights will make you bulky. But have no fear! Lifting weights will not necessarily make you bulky. It depends on how you train, what you eat, and how much you lift. Lifting weights allows you to shape your body into your desired shape. Brian Radar, our fitness manager at Palmdale East says, “Train and eat for the results you want. One of the keys to successfully changing your body and it’s composition, is weight lifting.”
“By lifting weights, you can increase your lean muscle mass, which also increases the number of calories you burn in a day. An individualized, well rounded, and tailored program including weight training, a healthy diet, and cardio can get you the lean muscle tone you're looking for without getting bulky,” she continued.
Now we know to hit the weights every other day, and that they won’t necessarily make you bulky. So, should you lift heavy weights and do a few reps, or light weights and do a lot of reps?
Tobias Young, fitness manager at In-Shape Antioch says it’s really about your goals. Remember everyone’s body is unique and may respond differently depending on your genetics.
“If you are looking to increase your muscle size and build the most amount of muscle tone, you should lift the right amount of weight to challenge yourself to lift eight to twelve reps. If you want to increase strength and power, you’ll want to lift the right amount of weight to challenge yourself to do two to six reps.”
And for those of you looking to increase the endurance in the muscle and build some muscle tone? Young recommends looking for a weight that will enable you to do 12-20 reps.
Group fitness classes are another great way to build structure and consistency in your program, so try a BodyPump® or other strength-based class at the club.