Allison Brie ditched her Soulcycle membership in order to get in the best shape of her life. Actress and mom of twins Zoe Saldana doesn’t even waste her time doing cardio during her workouts anymore. And Minka Kelly credits all the weight training she did to prepare for a badass Spartan race for totally transforming her body for the better.
If you think that killing yourself on a cardio machine is the only way to lose weight or change your body shape, think again. In fact, if you really want to see fat loss, you should pick up a heavier set of weights.
I know what you’re thinking because despite knowing better, it was the first thing that popped into my head, too—won’t lifting weights make me look bulky and muscley?
The answer is a resounding, “NO!” Lifting weights won’t make you look like the Hulk—if anything, it will actually help you look slimmer and lose more body fat than cardio alone. Here’s what you need to know about resistance training for women.
Women have to work really hard to build big muscles
You know those muscle-bound women, the kind that you see whipping out incredible feats of strength at the Crossfit Games or posing with flexed muscles on social media? They have to work really hard in order to look that way, almost defying biology to build muscle. In fact, most of them have probably been working towards that goal for years and follow regimented workout and diet plans.
When you lift heavy things, your muscles will get stronger. But in order to make them bigger, you’d need to aggressively eat a lot more calories … and maybe take a testosterone supplement. If you lift heavy things and stick to a caloric deficit (or don’t increase the amount of calories you’re eating on a regular basis) you’ll gain strength, burn more fat, and change the shape of your body by toning your muscles.
When you add more muscle mass, you boost your metabolic rate
Muscles are greedy. They require a lot of energy in order to sustain themselves, which is why after any workout you’re usually pretty hungry.
But strength training is more effective than cardio when it comes to burning calories for a longer period of time. The “after training effect” is the 24-48 hours after a strength training workout when the muscles repair and rejuvenate themselves. During after training, your body requires more calories in order to properly rebuild muscles—which means your metabolism is at an all-time high for the day or two after weightlifting.
So here’s your answer—no, lifting weights won’t make you bulky. If you’re really uncomfortable with the idea of picking up heavy things, that’s OK. Stick to your 2- to 3-pound weights. But just understand two things: You’re probably going to need to do 10 times as many reps with those light weights in order to increase your strength, and you’re not necessarily going to see results as quickly as you would if you just did a few reps with heavier weights.