The day I packed up my hockey bag after my last competitive game, I was convinced I would never do a heavy squat again or try to max out on my pull-ups. I was determined to run - A LOT, do yoga on the rare occasion and memorize the p90x ab circuit. Signing up for a marathon sounded like the next best thing. All for what? To look more like a “girl”, and not get “bulky”.
So I ran …A LOT and got hurt. But I've learned a lot since then. There are so many misconceptions floating around, more specifically directed at women, about lifting heavy and the negative side effects. Let me debunk some myths that I used to believe.
Lifting heavy will make me “big and bulky”
Women don’t have the androgen receptors (growth hormones) men do, so they won’t look like men. They can’t without the use of steroids. Even women that genetically have higher testosterone levels than most won’t get big quickly. For women to truly put on excessive mass, they have to train in that realm 4-5 days a week, while consuming a greater number of calories.
I am going to get hurt if I lift heavy
Resistance training using body weight and with free weights, strengthens more than just your muscles. It also strengthens your bones and connective tissues. This added strength and stability will help you ward off injuries and keep a strong body. It can also help reduce symptoms of many conditions like back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Lifting heavy will make me slower
Strength training has been shown to improve endurance, speed, and running efficiency. Whether you consider yourself a short distance or long distance runner, you will find pace increases as you start to build strength. Not only will it increase leg strength in addition improve your body’s efficiency in using energy and oxygen. A recent study showed that lifting heavier weights improves gait and foot speed more than lighter weights. As movement continues to develop, the heavier the better for increased performance.
So in summary, lifting heave will help you look good, feel good, and move WELL. In May we rolled out Tuesday strength days, with the emphasis being work on the floor; practicing new skills, lifting heavier loads, slowing down mechanics, and diving into the importance of incorporating a strength focused routine into your weekly training regime. At the start, we were greeted with mixed feelings. “This is Fly Feet Running, it’s in the name, why aren’t we running?” Others thought “about damn time.” But for both sides, I think it is very important to understand why it is so beneficial to integrate strength training into your training, no matter what your overarching goals are as an athlete. Below are some of the positive benefits and effects of adding strength based programming to your workout regime.
1. Increased basal metabolic rate
Meaning more muscles, more calories burned. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, a regular strength training program can also help you burn more calories when you’re not in the gym. You get an “afterburn,” where your body continues to use more calories in the hours following a workout. As you would imagine, strength training builds muscle. The more muscle mass an individual has, the more calories burned daily with or without exercise.
2. Build your brain
Heavy weights develop more than just muscle. Lifting heavy increases the production of many hormones, including the hormone IGF-1, which helps to stimulate connections in the brain and enhance cognitive function. Leg strength, has been positively linked with stronger minds that are less susceptible to the negative effects of aging.
3. Take a ride on the good vibes train
You probably have heard that physical activity and exercise reduces stress by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Although both cardio and strength training stimulate your body to release endorphins, your body produces more endorphins in a faster period of time when you’re weightlifting than when you’re doing cardio. Certain strength focused exercises produce more endorphins than others. Movements that involve more than one muscle group– have been shown to produce the most endorphins during and after a workout. Now the next time you see a chest press, deadlift, or loaded squat just think we are not only trying to make you stronger but also an overall happier human!
If you read my last post, you know I continue to struggle with the obsessive tendencies to achieve some type of perfection, but I am in such a better place in regards to body image and understanding that “weak muscles are painful muscles” - thank you John Wood! I want to be able to continue to do the things I love outside the gym or studio. Not only does my body feel better physically but I am more confident knowing I am maintaining a functional moving system and that I am able and will be able to pull myself over a bar or push myself off the floor whether I am 26 or 86 years of age.
All Hail the TreadMighty,