In my 24 years as a coach, I constantly hear women saying, “I don’t want to get big and bulky.” “I don’t want to lift heavy.” Where did the myth come from that women shouldn’t lift heavy weights, or that we would get big and bulky? Why are we afraid to be strong, to lift heavy things, to move mountains? Will I get big and bulky if I lift heavy? It’s time to bust this myth! It’s time to build muscle and feel the amazing benefits of being Kaia Strong!
A Little History and Physiology
Women didn’t really start lifting weights until the 1970s. It was thought that if women lifted weights it would de-feminize them or possibly even harm our reproductive capacity. It’s likely our first impressions with women lifting weights were those in weight lifting competitions. These women were big and bulky, yes. However, the women in weight lifting competitions very likely take Male Hormones, like testosterone, steroids, or HGH. Women do not have the same amount of testosterone in our bodies as men. We produce 1/10 to 1/20 the amount of testosterone as a male. In order to achieve that bodybuilding look, women need to supplement with male hormones. Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that builds muscle. The Female body is just not designed to build large muscles. We can lift heavy all day long and still not naturally achieve the size of a male. So, we can put aside the thought that we will look like a man if we lift heavy. We are not made like men and we won’t look like a man.
In the body, the mechanisms of cardiovascular endurance training and resistance training compete with one another at a cellular level. Under certain situations, they can cancel each other out. The body prefers cardiovascular fitness over muscle hypertrophy, strength, and power improvements. Therefore, if you prefer a less muscular look, add more cardio endurance training to your workout regimen, like running, cycling, swimming, jump rope, or walking.
The GOOD NEWS is that at Kaia, most of our workouts are cardio-resistance workouts!
In recent years, women are embracing strength more than ever. We look up to athletic role models as we have watched all they have achieved. We recognize the benefits of a strong body and strong mind in our lives. We know women have so much more strength and power to give to this world and we want to make a difference!
Not convinced yet? Why should women gain muscle?
Women begin to lose muscle cells as we age, at a faster rate than men. This begins at the age of 25! The neurons that control muscle die off with age, with our fast twitch muscles going first. That means a loss of speed and power. Loss of muscle also puts us at an increased risk of injury, with less muscle to support our joint stability.
Muscle is primarily responsible for metabolism. As we lose muscle with age, our metabolism slows. Now that explains a lot! On average, women lose 5 pounds of muscle every 10 years. After menopause, this loss doubles – creating a 3% drop in metabolism – per decade! The end result? Weight gain and muscle weakness. BUT, the GOOD NEWS is with the right workouts, we can SLOW this rate of loss, maintain our muscle and metabolism, and keep our joints strong!
Muscle is very active tissue. It uses energy to sustain it. Conversely, fat cells store energy and are mostly inactive tissue. The more muscle we have on our body, the more energy our body uses even at rest. Sitting on your bum all day, your body will require more energy if you gain muscle than if you gain fat. Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) can be measured and is dependent on the composition of your body. More Muscle = higher Resting Metabolic Rate.
At the end of a day, your body’s Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) is dependent on 3 things.
TEE = RMR + Dietary Thermogenesis + Physical Activity
TEE is how many calories your body burns in a day and is very important in our Calories In/Calories Out balance.
- RMR contributes 60-75% of TEE
- Dietary Thermogenesis (energy used and heat produced to digest food) contributes 10% to TEE
- Physical Activity contributes about 15%, depending on how active you are!
We can control these 3 things and we can increase our TEE!
- RMR – GAIN MUSCLE!!!
- Every 1 lb of muscle gain increases RMR by 30-50 kcal/day. This equates to 5 lb of fat loss/year. Gain 5 lb of muscle and that’s 25 lb of fat loss in a year!
- Dietary Thermogenesis – EAT PROTEIN AND FIBER – takes more energy to digest!
- Physical Activity – BE MORE ACTIVE throughout the entire day! Get off your bum!
Don’t wait to gain muscle! Start building muscle now. The more you invest now, the larger the base you have to maintain more muscle for longer. Keep in mind that we walk around our legs all day long. We may lose more muscle in our upper body as we don’t push and lift things as much as we age. Push Ups and Pulls Ups here we come!
So many benefits of gaining muscle!
- Increase RMR
- Decrease body fat with an increased RMR
- Get that “toned” look you love. Glow with the appearance of fitness.
- Prevent back pain by strengthening the core musculature that supports the spine
- Increase stability of joints = less injury. Resistance training increases the strength of tendons and ligaments supporting the joints.
- Strengthen your knees
- The muscles of your hips and legs play an important role in knee stability. Women’s knees are especially susceptible to knee injury because our wider hips create a stressful hip-to-knee V-angle pulling our knees inward if our hips are not strong enough to pull them out.
- Increase bone density
- As muscle pulls on bone, this puts stress on the bones, requiring them to remodel and build density to withstand stresses.
- Maintain independence as we age. Maintain functionality and capacity. No assisted living!
- Slow the age-related decline of muscle
- Regulate Blood Sugar and reduce risk of diabetes with resistance training
- Improved self-esteem!
- Studies cite increased self-esteem reports with the act of participating in a resistance training program even when there were no physical improvements in strength!
- Build a Strong Mind
- Build a Strong Body
A strong body and a strong mind makes for an unstoppable woman.
The Future is Female. The Future is Kaia Strong.
2020 has thrown so many obstacles at us that bounce right off of us. Kaia Girls are stronger than any obstacle. We have the power and confidence to overcome and still finish 2020 Stronger! Build that strong body and mind and achieve your goals. Fight for YOUR future!
As a World’s Toughest Race Finisher, I know I can climb any mountain. I know I can forge any jungle. I can swim any sea. I can do TOUGH things. I am FREE. No limits. No weakness. No Fear.
It’s taken me time to get there and you can get there too! Don’t be afraid to gain muscle and gain the strength to be free!
Be patient. It takes time and years of hard work in the gym. Start today!
Here’s a great Beginner Workout to get you started
2-3 Days a Week
10 Repetitions of each exercise
2 sets of each exercise with 30s rest between each exercise
1a. Bodyweight Squat
1.b Push Up
2a. Reverse Lunge
2b. Assisted Pull Up
Want to know what your RMR is? What to know what you’re made of? Get an InBody Analysis of Body Composition today at your local Kaia Studio.
Heather Flebbe, M.S
Owner/Coach Kaia FIT Santa Clarita