The phrase I hear most from women is “I want to get toned, but I don’t want to bulk up.” You may have heard this a million times, but I’m going to confirm it once again… looking like a bodybuilder is practically impossible for the average woman who lifts weights and eats well. Without an incredibly strict training, food, and supplement program, those kinds of muscle gains will never be reached, unless you naturally have an abnormally high amount of testosterone in your body. It is testosterone that most of us lack that not only makes it harder for us to gain muscle but consequently, it’s harder for us to lose body fat, period. Total bummer, I know. There’s only one thing we can do to match our male counterparts’ chiseled bods and that’s to lift like them!
Here are some things to consider…
- Don’t Fear the Weight Room – You know the “bro” room of dudes who spend more time looking at themselves in the mirror (I know they’re resting between sets, but come on guys!) than actually working out? That’s where you want to spend the majority of your workouts from here on out. Walk in confidently and just do your thing! Most of the guys in the weight room are novices at best, so you’re not alone. I also wouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of your weight room comrades. They’re dying to geek out on exercises and form with you, I guarantee it!
- Step Away From the 5 lb Dumbells – Unless you’re doing a shoulder raise, working on your rotator cuff, or nursing an injury, there is no reason why you should have a 5 lb dumbbell in your hand! Performing numerous repetitions, using light weights will never get you the results you’re looking for. The next time you do a dumbbell chest press, for example, try at least the 10 lb dumbbells and see how many reps you can complete before you can’t push anymore. If you’re afraid of reaching a point where you won’t be able to lift the weights yourself, stop just short of total failure or ask someone in the gym to spot you. Rule of thumb – If you can complete more than 10 reps of any exercise, it’s time to increase the weight! Keep track of your workouts and try to push yourself just a little more every time (with good form, of course!).
- Don’t Assume Your Weight Gain is Caused by Your Heavy Squats – Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat. 1 lb of muscle = 1 lb of fat. However, muscle is denser than fat. So, 1 lb of muscle will look better on you than 1 lb of fat. So why has the scale gone up since you started your new weight lifting program? You may find it fluctuate in the beginning as your muscles start to swell. Once they heal and start to hypertrophy, you can bank on your metabolism getting a boost and your body will start to burn more calories (yeahhh!). If you’re trying to lose weight and the scale is consistently increasing and your pants keep getting tighter, then you may need to adjust your diet. You can talk with a dietitian or try this awesome Macro Calculator. I guarantee that the weight you’re gaining is not because you’re lifting weights. It’s most likely due to an unbalanced diet.
- Hire a Trainer – I think most people think of a personal trainer as a luxury, much like going to a masseuse. Yes, it can be that, but a trainer can be a great weight room coach. Working with a trainer, even just for a few sessions, can give you more confidence with the exercises you’ll do in the gym and you’ll learn proper form and technique.