Strong is the new skinny

This is jumping off from my last point in my blog article, RANDOM TRAINING THOUGHTS TO HELP YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WORKOUT.  If you haven’t read it, take a look-sees here.

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Photo taken from Rugged Crossfit.

To put it in a nutshell – Ladies and especially female athletes, if all you’re doing at the gym is running on the treadmill, consider this.  Unless you’re training for a marathon (which you should be running outside anyways), why spend x amount of money on that gym membership when you can be running outside for free?

“But MK, I want to lose weight and slim down and I heard cardio is the way to go.”

Don’t get me wrong, cardio to great way to increase your running economy.  Notice how as you progress in your runs, you are more easily able to run for longer distances.  However, as your running becomes more efficient so does your body.  In other words, you won’t burn as much calories since your body has become more and more economical for longer and longer runs.  So those one hour bouts on the treadmill are good up until a point.

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Here are some reasons why you should resistance train and lift:

Muscle burns more calories. 

Fat is an energy storage used by the body.  Muscle is living tissue that requires energy for it to work.  When you increase muscle mass, you automatically increase the need for energy intake.  It’s common sense.  The more work you need to do, the more energy you need to do it.  That being said, the more fat is able to be burned since it is just energy waiting to be used.

If you’re sport consists of more than just running, then why train by only running? 

If you’re a female athlete, resistance training is extremely important.  Sports is all about quickly applying a force into an object whether it be into the ground, into a soccer ball or into another person.  If you’re on the treadmill all day long, you’re not utilizing your muscles.  Think about this; if you want to jump higher, kick farther or hit harder you don’t only need more muscle, but how to use it properly.  You’re not going to build more muscle running.  Push, pull, lift, throw something just as you would in the sport you play.

As a matter of fact you might lose muscle by only running. According to the NSCA’s Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, ” although aerobic endurance training increases aerobic power, it does not enhance muscle strength or size.  In fact, intense aerobic endurance training can actually compromise the benefits of resistance training” (NSCA).

That being said, it’s important to find a balance that works well for your sport.  You don’t see marathon runners competing in Olympic lifting events.

A house is only as strong as its foundation.

The same can be said about an athlete.  If you’re basic fitness and strength are not where it should be, you’re not reaching your full potential as an athlete.  Have a good foundation and you can only go up from there.

If resistance training is good for the United States’ Women’s Soccer Team, it’s probably good for you as well.  Don’t be afraid to get stronger by lifting weights.

Strong is the new skinny.  Out with the old, in with the new.

The-new-Skinny

Photo taken from Fitness Insane.

If you’re talking to your computer screen and asking, “MK, but I don’t want to bulk up!”  Here’s some good news, you won’t.  Really?  Yes.  You won’t look like this, I can say with 99.99% confidence that you won’t (without taking steroids of course).

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Image taken from The Chive.

Here’s why:

Lower natural testosterone levels in females.  Testosterone is one of the primary anabolic hormones that can influence muscle tissue growth (NSCA).  According to the NSCA, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, textbook Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, which can be found here, “Women have about 15- to 20-fold lower concentrations of testosterone than males do.”  Simply put, you won’t be able to put as much muscle mass as your make counterparts would without the help of supplemental hormone therapy.

To attain a physique like the image above, you would more than likely need the help of steroids, hormones and some other chemicals I don’t even know about.

You won’t get “bigger” overnight. 

In previous sedentary people, the first thing that happens when people start resistance training (lifting weights) is not muscle hypertrophy (muscle tissue growth) but an increase in efficiency of the neuromuscular system.  Only after 6-8 weeks of resistance training will you start to notice muscle fiber hypertrophy (NSCA).

I’ll try to explain it into laymen’s terms.  You’re muscle is capable of lifting “x” amount of weight, however your neuromuscular system (brain + muscle) only knows how to lift below that amount.  It’s like only getting 50% out of your muscles’ full potential.  When you start resistance training, your neuromuscular system becomes more efficient and starts to lift more and more to its potential.  When you start going past your muscle’s current potential, that’s when hypertrophy comes in.

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Lift heavy or go home. 

If you head to the gym and only use light weights, you’re not accomplishing anything.  You might as well lift that remote to the TV a thousand times, it’s pointless.  You have to stress your body, but be careful not to over-stress, to create change.

“It’s biology bro.” Movie quote from Zero Dark Thirty.

By that I mean you have to engage your muscles to change it.  If you lifting more than you usually are, your body is like hey, if this guy/gal is going to keep lifting these heavy weights, I should probably make this muscle stronger to keep up so I don’t rip and tear.

I’m not saying to go all Rambo and lift up cars and trucks; don’t hurt yourself.  Pick a weight you’re comfortable using, but yet heavy enough where you can complete your sets just short of failure.

So what are you waiting for?

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Viva la Resistance! Martin Rooney

Summary:

  • Muscle burns more calories than fat.  Build more muscle by lifting!
  • Lift “heavy” or go home.  Remember light weights don’t stress your muscles to produce change, stress your muscles to force them to adapt by lifting weight heavier than you normally use.
  • Build a solid foundation.
  • If your sport consists of more than just running, why train by just running? Lift, pull, push, throw, slam something.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up weights to get stronger.

Well, that’s it.  What do you guys think?  Any questions, comments or concerns, please leave them down in the comments section below.

References:

Women who want to look healthier by either putting on some lean muscle or by losing some stubborn fat shouldn’t fear grabbing a pair of dumbbells. Learn more.

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning – 2nd Edition (NSCA)

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