Looking to build a lean, toned body? Lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions could be the answer.
Many women (and men) exercise to lose weight and get toned. After many weeks and months of working out with light weights and high repetitions, they have enjoyed limited results and get disheartened. The solution may be to lift heavier weights and do fewer repetitions.
For many women we talk to about our range of sports supplements, such advice sets off alarm bells. They are concerned that if they lift heavy weights and use protein powders they will bulk up, get square shoulders and start to look like body builders. The reality is that numerous reps of lighter weights that many women do to ‘tone’ is more likely to give you that body builder physique than lifting heavier weights at smaller repetitions.
Other women’s fears of protein powders making them bulk up are also unfounded. Protein powders are an excellent way to retain a trim figure, increase energy and do not necessarily lead to ‘explosive muscle growth’ (contrary to what some of the advertisements in some magazines might promise). Unless you take supplements and eat a diet specifically designed specifically to help you bulk up, 95% of women will not bulk up, tending to build curves in the ‘right’ places instead.
Registered sports scientist Habib Noorbhai says this lingering myth over women bulking up from weight training is a very common misconception.
“Strength training has a variety of benefits for women, one of which is preventing the earlier onset of bone and joint-related diseases such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
“Performing low to moderate intensity weight training will ensure increase in strength gains, assist in the loss of body fat and assist with activities of daily living.”
He adds that “vigorous intensity weight training can initially lead to a minimal gain in lean muscle, but generally low to moderate intensity weight training combined with cardio, and following a healthy eating plan is the secret to getting toned and losing body fat”.
We have to agree. We are lucky enough to have an in-house gym at Nature’s Way HQ. Many of us have recently started to focus less on the treadmill and bicep curls and more on lifting heavy. We use whole-body exercises like squats, dead lifts and power cleans in conjunction with circuit training and clean diet. We have certainly not noticed any bulking, are happy with improvements in strength and body shape and can also report a reduction in body fat.
There is an inherent risk in starting to lift heavier weights. Unless you are already experienced at weight training, we strongly recommend enlisting the services of a personal trainer or – ideally – a strength coach who can teach you proper form to avoid injury. Once you have learned the basics of safe lifting, you can start to increase the load and train with a friend or alone, however that initial expert guidance to help you refine your form and build a baseline of strength is highly recommended to help avoid serious injury..