I’ve heard so many women say it: “I don’t lift weights, because I don’t want to get bulky!” It’s a huge misconception that many women have that lifting weights will get them too muscular and they’ll look manly. The truth is, though, that it’s actually very difficult to get that muscular.
The pictures that you’ve seen of exceptionally muscular women are pretty misleading, actually. If you found out just how much weight those women lift, how often and what kinds of testosterone-boosting drugs many of them take, you’d be shocked. Many of them are on steroids or are professional body builders or athletes. It takes a lot of work to get that way. I guarantee you it won’t happen by accident.
So here are the real facts about muscle and just how helpful it is in getting into better shape that’s easier to maintain. For every pound of muscle you gain, you increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is how many calories you burn just by existing. A pound of muscle burns somewhere between 7-13 calories per day, whereas a pound of fat burns somewhere between 2-4 calories per day. And, while this isn’t a huge difference in and of itself, the more you exercise those muscles by doing resistance training, the more calories you’ll burn.
For every minute that you exercise, you’re burning calories, right? Everyone knows that. But resistance training actually allows your body to continue to burn calories after you’ve finished the exercise itself. There are two types of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic is classic cardio exercise (jogging, biking, swimming), and anaerobic is more intense bursts of exercise that you can’t maintain continuously (weight lifting, sprinting). When we do anaerobic exercise, our muscles begin to break down with microscopic tears as we lift weights, and our bodies work to repair that damage after we’re done. During that period (which can last for as many as 39 hours), our metabolism is boosted and we’re burning extra calories. The moral of the story here is that if you want to burn calories by sitting your butt on the couch, then weightlifting is the best way to go.
Other than having the edge on burning calories, lifting weights and adding lean muscle mass to our bodies has other advantages (in addition to looking sexier). It’s good for bone health, especially in women as they age, and it’s good for your brain. Some studies have found that memory is improved after just 12 weeks of resistance training.
Finally, if you find yourself unable to make it to the gym for a while, you’ll have an easier time getting back at it than with cardio. Our muscles have something called muscle memory, which allows you bounce back way more quickly than the first time you started weight lifting.
Essentially, there’s no downside to weight lifting. It packs a bigger bang for its calorie-burning buck in the same amount of time as aerobic exercise and has other benefits to boot. Plus, if you’re trying to build a better booty, I can tell you running on the treadmill won’t do a thing compared to good old squats.