There are a few common questions and comments our M2M physical therapists hear surrounding weight training. Will lifting weights make me bulky? What exercises should I do to get “toned?” Where do I even start if I want to get into weight training? There are lots of misconceptions surrounding the field of resistance training, so today our Made 2 Move team is going to delve into some of these topics a little deeper.
“I don’t want to get bulky.”
There is a stigma, especially among women, that lifting weights will make you bulky. This is one of the reasons many women avoid the weight room. The reality is that it is actually quite challenging to become “bulky” by lifting weights. There are lots of people that dial into their diet, eat ridiculous amounts of food, train hard every single day, yet still struggle to put on muscle mass.
Gaining muscle mass requires a diligent effort in order to get “bulky.” Think: there is an entire sport- bodybuilding- devoted to the meticulous task of aesthetically fine tuning every single muscle in the body. This sport requires incredible caloric accuracy and a carefully crafted weight training program. Coach Barik CSCS, sums it up well: “If you want to build muscle, you do need a caloric surplus. New muscle tissue doesn't just fall on your torso out of thin air. My hockey players routinely consume around 4,000 calories (or more) on heavy training days, yet remain at a low body fat percentage and certainly aren't "too big." Why? Because they burn most of what they consume in the gym and on the ice.”
So if you’re eating a calorically balanced diet (or even if you are eating in a caloric surplus, but from mostly whole food sources) the reality is that you will only notice positive changes in your performance and body composition. As Dr. Rachel Digiacomo would say, “Saying you don’t want to lift weights because you’re scared of getting bulky is like saying that you don’t want to drive a car because you’re scared of becoming a NASCAR driver.”
“I just want to get toned.”
“Toning” is another buzzword that gets thrown around in the fitness world on social media. What does getting “toned” even mean? Most people who say they want to be toned mean that they want to look leaner. This happens by decreasing body fat and adding some muscle definition. Heavy weight training combined with adequate cardio can do the trick here.
Using light weights for high reps is great for increasing muscular endurance, but if you want to get lean, heavy weight training is going to be more advantageous. Why? Because when you train with heavier weights your muscles are getting stronger. A stronger muscle burns more calories at rest (increases your metabolism), so your body fat will decrease even when you aren’t working out.
Getting toned is really nothing more than something that people say as a marketing tool. If you want muscle definition, then heavier, appropriate strength training is the best way to accomplish this goal. As mentioned previously, weight training will NOT make you bulky, and it is the best way to build muscle and start seeing muscle definition. Diet will also play a large role in working towards this goal.
“I want to start weight training, but I don’t know how.”
Ditch the two pound dumbbells. Training high volume (think 50 reps) with lighter weights is great for muscular endurance but does little for muscular strength. So what should you do if you want to get into lifting weights? Start light and master your form. Then, (depending on your goals), you can work towards lower reps with heavier weights.
Dr. Greg Lehman BKin, MSc, DC, MScPT states it very simply:
“You can lift a lot more than you think you can, so don’t be afraid to go heavy. You’ll become more confident as you see what your body is capable of.”
In addition to increasing your confidence and muscular strength, lifting heavy weights will also boost your metabolism more than lighter weights or cardio would. Why is this? Lifting heavy weights will lead to your body burning more fat at rest for two reasons:
Lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest than fat.
Your body is trying to rebuild your muscles during your time outside of the gym. This process utilizes more energy (burning calories) for this.
It’s time we celebrate the beauty of getting strong.
Do we focus on insecurities conjured by other people?
Are you surrounded by people who love and respect you for you?
Let’s ditch the mantra that being skinny is the definition of beauty. Everyone is built differently. So let’s take up space. Let’s focus less on our physique, or being “toned,” and more on how we feel. Let’s lift heavy things. Let’s nourish our bodies (No, 1200 calories per day is not enough. If you’re strength training, your nutrition needs to match this. Train strong, Eat strong.)
Here at Made 2 Move, we’re big fans of weight training for everyone, men and women, old and young. Those coming back from injury, those trying to prevent injury, and those just trying to get stronger overall. If you’re looking to get into weight training or use weight training as a way to rehab from an injury, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today to set up your initial consultation. We have 4 convenient locations: Downtown Charleston, Summerville, Daniel Island, and West Ashley, so we are ready for you!