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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Women Don't Have Boy Parts: Why You Should Put Down the Pink Dumbbells

Women really should not be weightlifting or lifting anything even remotely heavy, for that matter.

Heaven forbid that just laying eyes on a non-pink dumbbell weighing more than her purse could instantaneously cause her to bust out of her blouse like a bulky, bulging, bodybuilding She-Hulk.

So ladies, please be careful.

Don't pick up a double-digit dumbbell.

Don't even think of touching a barbell.

And don't you dare do anything less than 50 reps of bicep curls with that 2-lb pink Barbie dumbbell.  I would hate for any of you to lose fat, get stronger, decrease your risk for osteoporosis, or fit better into your skinny jeans.

That would be straight-up tragic.

Okay....so I'm being a pretty overdramatic and sarcastic. Who doesn't love that?!
I can only take it this offensively far because I was in the same boat as a lot of women just a few months ago.  That group of whiny, prudish women that cry "I don't want to lift weights!  I'm afraid I'll get bulky!"

Please.

If you've ever uttered this whine out loud or to the voices in your head, please don't take offense that I'm pointing out how ridiculous this statement is...because I've said the same exact thing too!  Mel likes to tease me about it on multiple occasions. And then I chuckle and we all have a good time at my expense.  Whatevs. 

First of all, what exactly do you think "bulky" is?

Is it this?
 
Or this?
My question is why do they bother even wearing a bikini top?!  It's not like they have breasts to hide anymore!  Why is this chick's face pale white while her body is a sweaty old prune?

What about these ladies?  Are they what you would call "bulky"?


I can't tell you how many times I've heard a woman say she wants Kelly Ripa's arms.  And apparently plastic surgeons are saying that last year, women wanted Michelle Obama's arms so badly, they were undergoing plastic surgery for an upper-arm lift {brachioplasty}.  What the what?!

The last pic is of Julie Foucher, 2nd place woman in the CrossFit Games in 2012.  She's just adorable, and only 24 years old!  She didn't participate in this year's CrossFit Games because she's focusing on medical school.

But for the sake of argument, let's just say we're all on the same page here...

Bulky? Yes.
Bulky? No.
This is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, she's currently ranked 1st in her region in the CrossFit Regionals, finishing 1st in 6 of the 7 events.

Can I just humbly clarify something for all my lady friends?  You do not (do NOT) have the physical capacity for looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime bodybuilding days {thank God, right?}.  And the ones who DO end up looking like the Governator {see above}, well, I'm pretty sure they have a little bottle and needle they can thank for that.  Women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones responsible for muscular hypertrophy, meaning a woman's muscles won't gain size but definition and tone.  You can't possibly be afraid of looking like a man because...well, you aren't one!  How about that?  Huh, who knew?

I strongly believe God designed women for incredibly strong feats.  We are designed to carry heavy weight on our bodies when pregnant with a baby.  We are blessed with incredible strength to push the sucker out 9 months later.  We're physically capable of constantly picking up and putting down children and groceries that weigh more than our pink dumbbell.  If you have children, do you realize that you're already "lifting heavy" on a daily basis?  Are your arms heaving out of your cap sleeves from that?  Probably not, I reckon.

So why weight train or "lift heavy"?  Besides making it easier to carry your laundry around the house and not tucker out so quickly when your child reaches up to you to be picked up squealing "Again! Again!"...

Lose Body Fat/You'll Look Awesome
Oh Lordy, don't we all want to do that! Understand that losing body does not necessarily mean the number on your scale will automatically plummet. It depends on how "sizeable" you are to begin with.  Since weight training in March, my weight has actually gone up at least 3 pounds.  And yet my clothes fit better.  Since muscle is much more dense than fat, a pound of muscle takes up much less space than a pound of fat.

At the end of the day, the number on the scale is just a number.  The better way to measure your progress is by how your clothes fit and or by looking for muscle definition in the mirror.  Also, muscle burns more calories at rest by raising your resting metabolism.  For every muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories per day (a pound of fat burns 2-5 calories per day). The flat-out myth that lighter reps should be used for better muscle tone.
Improve Cardiovascular Health:
"But can't I just set the incline to zero and speed to 3 mph on the treadmill and just go?" While it certainly is better than sitting on a couch, the answer is a big fat N-O, Sissy Lalapants.  You're better than that, I know you are!  Weight training lowers LDL cholesterol, increases HDL cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure (*). Some day soon I'll write about how irritated I get when people only do aerobic training {treadmill, elliptical, Zumba, Spin, etc.}, but that's a whole other post for a whole other day.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
The beneficial effect on diabetes comes from weight training's impact on insulin receptors.  Building muscle mass improves the sensitivity of insulin receptors, making it easier for muscle cells to absorb glucose.
Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis 
Wouldn't you just love to be that little old lady screaming "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!"?  If you would rather sign up for the LifeAlert button for when you fall and broke a hip, then don't lift. Otherwise, increase your bone mineral density through weight training.  A study on postmenopausal women participating in a strength training program for a year underwent a significant increase in spine and hip bone density {those areas most affected by osteoporosis in older women}. 
You: "Okay, Dawn, sign me up! I've got some squish I can afford to lose.  I want some muscle definition.  I want to get stronger!"
Me: "Awesome!" {high fives you}
You: "Uh, how exactly do I lift heavy?"

Easy peasy, friend.  First of all, look at everything that claims it will "tone" you...and run the opposite direction.  Lose the mindset that you are wanting to get "toned"..."toning" is simply another word for "waste of your time and muscle."

Think more like an athlete and how they train.  Would you ever see an Olympic gymnast doing so-called "toning" exercises? Heck to the no. 
You want to pick a weight that you can barely knock out 10 reps, and definitely not 11 reps.  Don't rest for long periods of time, ideally less than 60 seconds between exercises.  Pick compound movements {as opposed to isolating exercise} that will work multiple muscle groups, several joints, and give you the most bang for your buck without taking up a lot of your time.

Some of my humble suggestions...
Pull-ups: I use an assisted pull-up machine for 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps since I can only do one strict body weight pull-up.
Push-ups: Make it easier by getting on hands and knees.  Make it harder by doing handstand push-ups.  I actually do push-ups at work when no one's looking.  I won't tell you when or where because it's a really big secret.
Squats: Either body weight {also called "air squats"} or with barbell {I like to do front and back squats at the squat rack}, kettlebells, or dumbbells.
Thrusters: This has become one of my favorite moves because it hits so many muscles.  I usually use a 45-lb barbell.  You squat while holding your weight and then push press it above your head.
Tricep Dips: On a chair or couch to make it easier, or full body weight to make it harder.
Lunges: Hold a weight overhead and keep your arms locked and straight for an awesome challenge.
{Upright} Rows: While standing, hold your weight with arms straight down, then "pull" your weight up towards your face with elbows bent and up above your shoulders.  I like to use a weight plate for these.  There's lots of other variations on rows that are good.

Well, my friend...I hope that you have been inspired, encouraged, and educated about how great weightlifting can be for you.  Please e-mail us at burnandfuelwomen@gmail.com and let us hear your story!

Lots of love, Dawn

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