Updated: Oct 6, 2022
By Tammy Snow-Johnston, Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor
As a trainer of 8 years, it’s not uncommon for women to share with me that their goal is to change their bodies by "toning up" and losing weight (fat). Oddly enough, when I recommend a program that prioritizes resistance training (weights, resistance bands, cable machines, bodyweight resistance), most immediately express concern that they will get "bulky" and that they have always believed that cardio was key for burning calories.
The truth is, while steady-state cardio burns a lot of calories while you are doing it, lifting (or resistance training) has your body burning more calories for hours even after your workout. This is referred to as the ‘after burn’. Lifting not only boosts metabolism, it is the lean muscle that is built through lifting that creates an overall "toned" look. Confused yet?!
Allow me to break it down a bit: Muscle is metabolically active tissue that uses stored body fat as energy. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you’ll burn over time… even during rest (That’s right! Even while you’re sleeping!). The word “toning” really just means building muscle. When you shed fat and it is replaced with muscle mass, that is what gives the “toned” look so many women are trying to achieve.
As we age, lifting becomes especially important for women as it helps to maintain and improve bone health, improves posture, and makes us better equipped to move through daily life. In the book Menopocalypse, (which I highly recommend reading) Amanda Thebe shares that the declining hormones associated with menopause, accelerate the loss of muscle mass, which affects power, st
rength, balance, and aerobic activity. Simply lifting has the ability to keep us stronger, improving all aspects of our health.
If your goal is to “bulk up” a strict and strategic diet, along with a specialized training program can help achieve that. For the rest of us, women generally don't have enough testosterone to "bulk up" naturally, even if lifting very heavy weight.
What I'm saying is this: don't be afraid to pick up the weights... especially heavy ones! You will get your heart rate up, get a great workout and find yourself feeling noticeably stronger! Even just 20 - 30 minutes of well-programmed strength training, 2 to 3 times per week, combined with sufficient protein and enough sleep, can yield noticeable results as long as you are consistent. Keyword: consistent. The best way to build that consistency is to find a group of like-minded people who support and encourage you. The power is within you. At Free2Be Wellness, we’ll help you find it.
* Note: Cardio and weight training are both important in a well-rounded training program and for good health in general… especially if it is something you enjoy! If fat loss and a toned look is your goal, however, prioritizing resistance training is essential.