By Myprotein Writer |
If you travelled the world asking every coach and trainer who works with females what their biggest frustration is, I reckon around 90% would come up with something along the lines of: ‘the misconception that lifting weights will make women bulk up’.
We’ve reached 2016 and some women still have a fear of lifting weights; and I don’t blame them. The truth is – however – that strength training is a vastly superior way to achieve the lean body many women today aspire to have. In fact, it’s often the missing ingredient in the fat loss recipe!
Weight Training For Women | Fat Burn
Your body is made up of fat and lean mass (which is basically everything else – muscle, bone, water). There is no actual substance called ‘toned’.
Being toned simply means having lower levels of body fat and higher levels of muscle mass.
For performance, health and aesthetic purposes, the goal is usually the same: less fat, more lean mass.
Sounds easy enough, but what’s the best way of actually achieving it? Lifting weights will not only increase your lean mass, but it’ll also torch the fat off your body at a rate ‘regular cardio’ can only dream of. Let’s take a closer look…
Some Actual Evidence
Researchers assigned thirty overweight subjects to three groups of ten, all with the same objective – to lose as much fat as possible over a 12- week period. The groups were as follows:
2a) Diet plus aerobics
3a) Diet plus aerobics plus weight training
1b) The diet-only group lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat per person in 12 weeks.
2b) The diet plus aerobic group lost only one more pound than the diet-only group (15.5). Their training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks. The addition of aerobic training didn’t result in significant fat loss over diet alone. For me, this is the most startling part of the research. A total of thirty-six sessions of aerobics – each session up to 50 minutes – is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss.
3b) On the other hand, the weight training group lost an average of 21.1 pounds of fat. That’s 44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic-only groups respectively. Keeping all other factors equal, the addition of strength training greatly accelerated fat loss results.
“But Did They Get Bulky?”
Ah, the million-dollar question! Here’s the good news: Women have nowhere near the necessary natural levels of testosterone to bulk up. In fact, many men don’t either.
Even for men with high testosterone levels, getting that muscular appearance is an arduous task that requires 24-hour dedication – every day.
And it gets even better: muscle occupies less space than fat.
While total bodyweight (scale weight) has its place, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
People can weigh the same on the scale, but can look completely different in body composition.
Take two women of equal age, height and weight. For argument’s sake we’ll say they both weigh 60kg, but Mel has 30% body fat, while Anne carries 40%. If my math is correct, Mel’s body composition is made up of 18kg of fat and 42kg of lean mass; and Anne’s is 24kg of fat and 36kg of lean mass. Whilst they may weigh exactly the same, they will look very different.
Mel carries more muscle and less fat. Because muscle takes up less space than fat, she will be much thinner and leaner in appearance; as well being stronger, having a faster resting metabolism and all the other benefits they come with additional muscle tissue!
How Weight Training Burns Fat | Further Points
Below are a few more reasons why strength training is a superior method of losing fat:
✓ It maximizes the ‘Fat loss law of inefficiency’ (I made that phrase up) – For fat loss you want your body to be as fuel inefficient as possible. The problem with using regular cardio (running, Cycling, cross-trainer etc) is that the more you do and the better you get at it, the worse it becomes for results – because you have become more fuel efficient.On the other hand; the better you get at strength training, the more weight you can lift. The more weight you can lift, the more potential you have to lose fat.
✓ The magic of EPOC (Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption). Fat loss isn’t about what burns the most calories during a training session, it’s about what burns the most amount of fat after a training session. Go for a run you’ll likely burn calories for up to around 30 minutes after you finish.Strength train in a manner that increases your heart rate and you can burn calories for up to 36 hours afterwards. So, when you go to bed on Tuesday evening, you can still be benefitting from the effects of Monday morning’s workout!
✓ It’ll make you feel strong. Nothing increases confidence like feeling strong.
✓ It allows you to eat more without getting fat. Once you increase your lean body mass, you can really go to town on the sugary post-workout carbs!
✓ Once you get used to it, You’ll have a lot more fun weight training – believe me! And more fun equals more consistency; and consistency trumps everything when it comes to achieving results!
Take Home Message
Hopefully you’re a little more convinced to lift weights!
Please don’t worry if there’s anything you don’t fully understand. It’s an important topic, so I’ll most likely do another blog post on it in due course; and, as ever, feel free to contact me any time with any questions you may have!