Why lifting heavy is key to fat loss. And no, it won’t make you bulky.
Does this sound familiar? You sign up for a gym and are all excited to lose weight and get in shape. Then your well meaning friends and family start warning you not to lift heavy because it will make you bulky.
It’s a common myth that lifting weights makes women bulky. I’m gonna drop a truth bomb here: lifting weights (yes, even heavy ones) will NOT make you bulky. It just doesn’t work that way. Building muscle takes time. It takes a whole lotta lifting. And most importantly, it requires a caloric surplus. Meaning, you have to be eating more than you’re burning. If your goal is fat loss you’re going to be in a caloric deficit or at least eating at maintenance. If you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning you can’t really build muscle. It would be like trying to build a house with all the tools but none of the supplies. If you’re eating as much as you’re burning (maintenance) you can build some muscle, but you’re certainly not going to look like a pro bodybuilder.
As women we naturally have less testosterone and more estrogen. While lifting can give a boost to testosterone it’s not much. Unless you’re taking steroids you’re not going to get big and bulky from lifting.
But doesn’t fat turn to muscle?
Nope. Absolutely not. I don’t know who started that myth but I really wish it would just die. It’s another silly myth that scares women into not lifting. You have all the muscles you’re ever going to have right now. You can make them bigger by lifting, but you can’t create new muscles. Excess fat cells are due to eating more than your body needs. While you can create new ones, you can’t get rid of the ones you already have. I know, so unfair. But you can make your fat cells smaller. Smaller fat cells equal less fat overall.
So why should you lift?
Because lifting is awesome. Okay, that’s my personal opinion but don’t know it til you’ve tried it. But in all seriousness lifting is great for fat loss. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn throughout the day. Think of them like coal for your fat burning fire. The last thing you want to do is take away any of that precious coal.
Why not just do cardio?
Cardio is great. It helps with endurance and keeps your heart healthy. But it does nothing for building muscle and can actually lead to muscle loss if it’s all you’re doing. While you can’t build muscle in a caloric deficit you can help preserve what you’ve already got. If your weight loss is coming from muscle rather than fat you’re slowing down your metabolism. Over time it makes it harder to keep losing weight because you’re getting hit with a double whammy of calorie burning slowdown from less muscle and less calories. When you eat less your metabolism slows down too. I know, it’s really not fair.
So what can you do to maintain muscle mass while losing weight? It’s as easy as 1,2,3
- Lift at least 3xweek
- Keep your calories as high as you can while still seeing progress
- Up your protein intake to .9-1g per pound of body weight.
If you’re not sure where to start with your weightlifting shoot me an email. I’d love help get you on the right track.