Over the years, I have trained many women who are afraid of strength training because they fear getting “too big” or “bulky”.
Well ladies, have no fear! Women who achieve that big and bulky look are literally training for hours every day in a very specific way, taking supplements to help with muscle growth, eating thousands of calories on a very strict diet, AND dehydrating their bodies so that when they stand on stage to compete, those muscles are defined and visible. Does this sound like something you want to do?
Me neither! (no offence to any competition ladies out there.. I seriously commend your dedication).
Why do we need muscle?
So why am I advocating for building muscle? Well there’s the functionality of having muscle such as protecting the bones, being able to lift your child and carry heavy things without feeling vulnerable… but ALSO, when we have lean muscle mass, our bodies become metabolically active! This means that when our bodies are densely packed with muscle, we are burning more calories around the clock!
Why do we need fat?
Excess fat is just storage. It sits there so that one day when there is a famine, our body will have something to feed off of. Most of us in first world countries with the ability to read this blog post (access to smart phones and computers) are not worried about famine anymore, but our body doesn’t know that. Fat is not metabolically active tissue. We need it for insulation, nerve protection and function (myelin sheaths), and brain function. So it does serve a purpose. The problem arises when we have too much of it!
What’s the goal and how do we achieve it?
The goal is to change our composition. More muscle, less fat. This way, we turn into a lean, mean, fat burning machine.
In order to do achieve this, we need to change the way we think about working out. Lifting heavy will allow your muscles to be challenged, microscopically torn, and rebuilt to become stronger and more densely packed. When we do cardio to burn fat, we may be burning some calories while we do it, but not much is happening after that cardio session is done (it’s still good for the heart and lungs though). When we lift heavy, we reap the benefits long after the workout is over.
So what are the best muscles to work on to lose fat? Well the short answer is all of them, but think about it like this: The larger the muscle, the more energy it takes to move that muscle. That being said it’s really important to do exercises that challenge the muscles in the legs (i.e. quads, hamstrings, glutes) such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and step-ups. Even if you are trying to lose fat in the belly or the arms, working the legs will help you achieve that faster. See my article on spot reduction to learn more about the spot reduction myth (the idea that working a certain muscle will help you lose fat in that specific area).
How can I find help?
If you are interested in getting stronger and leaner, but don’t know how to do it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how Glowing Mama courses and coaching programs can help you!