Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Strength training won't make you bulky

My office workout program is almost over. Eight weeks has gone by so fast. I still think back to the first week, when I wasn't at all sure I would like the format (three days of cardio, one day of barre, and one day of tabata). Now, I love it and look forward to it every day. Barre, especially, is a favorite. It gives me the strength training I need but am not good at doing on my own.

During the first week of the program, one of the girls told me she was going to skip the barre class days because she didn't want to "get bulky or start looking manish."

I didn't know how to respond. And I hope my face hid how I really felt about her comment.

We're using hand weights. How is that going to make you bulky? And you can choose the size of your weights if you're REALLY concerned about building muscle.  Although I can't begin to imagine why anyone would be against burning muscle. I just can't imagine that.

I know women who lift a lot more than a few dumbbells who do not look "manish." I follow many women who are very into powerlifting and crossfit. They are strong and sculpted, but they don't look like men. They look like fit women. That's it.

My first reaction to her comment was that she was dumb. But as I contemplated it more (and believe me, I did) I honestly think she's just misinformed.

I hate that there's such a myth about working out with weights. There's a huge difference between strength training and bodybuilding. And the answers about the differences are all over the internet. I particularly liked this article from Prevention magazine that lists 10 popular myths people need to ignore. Of the myths in that link, a few definitely spoke to the conversation I had with this girl.

The second one on the list -- "It'll turn you into a hulk." The expert quoted in the article stated that "90 percent of women are physiologically unable to build muscle to the degree where they would be considered bulky. It is simply a function of estrogen and lack of testosterone."

I got the sense she also believed she'd burn more calories by doing cardio on her own. Not true, according to that article. By increasing lean mass through strength training, you can increase your resting metabolism, which helps you burn more calories by just existing. There's a quote in the article that says "the muscles of a strength trainer burn 50 percent more calories than the muscles of a runner or walker."

Strength training is also not just about building muscle. I know it also helps with balance, posture, and bone health. The article informed me that it also helps with cognitive function. In other words, it's good for the brain too. And some studies have shown that 10 weeks of progressive strength training can reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Who wouldn't want that?

I guess I should just let it go. If she wants to miss out on all the benefits of strength training and barre, then that's her choice. But I'm definitely going to keep it up for all of the reasons above and also just because I enjoy it and feel better after those classes.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio
Tuesday - Xtreme Barre
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio + Abs
Thursday - Xtreme Tabata
Friday - Xtreme Cardio
Saturday - Off --  but I did pack some boxes and worked a killer shift at the brewery, so ... maybe it counts?

I'm sure Holly and Christy did awesome this week. Go check out their Sunday Sweats posts!

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