I’ve heard it a thousand times before: “I don’t want to get bulky”, “I get big really fast”, “I don’t want to have massive arms or legs”; these comments are always generally followed by “I just want to be toned with a nice butt”. I hate to be the bearer of bad news and please, feel free to call me every name in the book after this next comment, but running on the treadmill or putting in an hour on the elliptical 5 days a week is never going to get you there. Yup, I said it. You want a perky bum, a nice firm stomach and toned arms and legs? The only thing that’s going to do that is picking up the weights. I know, I know – we all picture Mr. Olympia every time we look at a weight over 5lbs – but what if I told you that heavy weights aren’t your enemy? What if I told you that heavy weights are the key to that sexy stomach you’ve always wanted and the butt that’s bouncing quarters off it left right and centre? My name is Kristin (Kris) Dalziel. I am a certified personal trainer, fitness professional and model. Like all of you, I wanted a nice perky butt, firm stomach, great legs and toned arms. This will be my first of many articles on how I’ve achieved this. There is no secret. Just hard work and knowing what you’re doing. So without any further ado, I dub this article “The Myth of Lift: Part 1”.
I’m sure a large amount of you are still reeling from my earlier treadmill comment, so allow me take a moment to elaborate. Cardio is not bad. In fact, cardio is great! You’re burning calories, you get a good sweat on, it’s good for your heart and you still release happy endorphins – but it isn’t going to cause any sort of “toning” effect. You have probably been told that cardio is the best way to burn fat, but did you know that fat burning stops the second you pop off the treadmill? This is actually the opposite of lifting. The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn all day long. (Yes. That means I’m burning more calories sitting on my butt writing this article than the average treadmill junky) In fact, multiple studies have shown that lifting heavy just two times per week can reduce your body fat percentage by 3% without even cutting your calories. To add to this, too much cardio actually leads to muscle loss. Without muscle, you’re flabby, no matter how skinny you are. This can also be referred to as “skinny fat”.
“But I don’t want to get big”. I hear ya sisters. I didn’t either. It’s why I spent a large portion of my life working out the WRONG way and getting minimal results. You’re right. Women CAN get big, but it’s very difficult. It takes a massive amount of consistent, long-term effort, target training (not just recreational) and a huge nutritional push to achieve the title of She-Hulk. In layman’s terms: we are not built like men and we do not gain muscle mass as easily. We lack the same testosterone, balance of hormone and growth hormones to put on mass the same way that men do.
So what does happen when we swap the treadmill for weights? Well, for starters, I like to ask all of my weight fearing lady clients how much they think I can lift based on my body composition. (For those of you who don’t know me, I am 5’4”, my measurements are 33-23-34, I wear an xxs or a size 0) I generally get answers in the range from 80-100lbs max. The answer, my lovely friends, is actually over 200lbs. “What?! Lies!!! There is no way!!!” Yes way. I am a first-hand example that weight lifting does the opposite of what we, as women, fear and everything that we hope cardio does for us. If you still aren’t convinced, think of it this way: although one pound of muscle and fat weigh the same, muscle is smaller and more compact than fat.
For example: A 125lb person that is 13% body fat will look significantly smaller and toned than a person that is 125lbs with 28% body fat.
Another example I like to share with my clients is my own: 3 years ago I weighed 115lbs, 27% body fat and was a size 6. I am now 124lbs, 13% body fat and a size 0. I gained 9lbs but lost 3 sizes. Why? Because lifting weights caused me to gain lean muscle mass, burn more fat and shrink. Sure, the number on the scale went up, but the fat amount on my body decreased by 14%, the inches melted off and I was left with a firm, toned, lean physique – not to mention badass strength for a tiny chick.
This is just the tip of the iceberg (Part 1 remember?). Over the next few articles, I will continue to explain the “whys” and “hows” of fitness related to women. I will share my best practices, nutritional advice and everything I have to offer you on your fitness journeys to your extra bangin’ bods. For now I leave you with this:
Get off the treadmill. Lift some weights. Throw out the scale. Use a measuring tape.
…oh yeah….and enjoy the journey!