Don’t Be Afraid Of Weights Or Muscle

“I Just Want To Be Toned”

Before I start personal training with someone we have a consultation session or call. In every consultation I ask the person what they want to do and why? The majority of the time I’ll hear the quote from above. More often than not it’s women who say it. It is normally accompanied by wanting to feel more confident or to be happier in their skin. People like to feel confident enough to wear a t-shirt or a sleeveless dress. At some level we all want to look in the mirror and feel good about ourselves. Wanting to be more “toned” is absolutely fine. The thing is most people know the word from hearing it but they don’t actually know what it really means. Do you? What it means is that your muscles are more defined. How do you really get that look? You actually have to build some muscle and lose some fat that’s covering it if there’s some there to lose.

Two Different Points

Person A is overweight and their arms have no definition. Now let’s say they lose a load of fat and their arm gets smaller. Without any appreciable amount of muscle underneath the fat they lost they still won’t be toned. Their arm will just be smaller but have no shape. Losing the fat will be great for their health but we’re talking about aesthetics today. Person B is thin. Their arms have very little or no fat at all. But 9 times out of 10 they have no muscle either. Again this isn’t that toned look people are after. What is the missing link in both cases? Muscle.

And that’s the problem a lot of people have, they think building muscle will make them bulky. You might think this is something only women will say but a lot of men say it too. They think if they just start lifting what they believe to be heavy weights that they’ll somehow wake up looking like the Hulk. It’s unfortunate but it just shows how many people are ill informed.

I Understand Where They’re Coming From

People in this instance want to look smaller, not bigger. They see lifting weights as something at odds with their goals. In this scenario I mean weights that are heavier than those rubber coated, multi-coloured ones. Those weights go up to 5kg in most gyms. During the initial consultation I’ll ask what has the person done before to try and get the look they want. That’s when I’ll get the following answers a lot of the time. Yoga, spin classes, long distance running. I’m not going to knock these forms of exercise. There are a lot of people who enjoy them. But if I wanted to improve my physique I know that these things won’t do it for me. The general gym goer doesn’t though.

Two Questions For You

Firstly, if you’ve tried these forms of exercise (yoga, spinning, jogging) before and aren’t happy with your body do you think lifting weights or doing resistance training will actually make you look worse?

Secondly, if you’re over the age of 35 what age were you when you think you looked your best? I’ve actually asked this question to women who became very happy and successful clients of mine. Their answers mostly ranged from late teens to mid 20’s. If you said the same in your head, know this. Those ages are when you have the most muscle on your body without doing resistance training. Without training and after that time your body starts to lose muscle as you get older. So lifting weights in your 30’s, 40’s or older isn’t a bad thing. It might just help get you closer to your previous best body.

What You Need To Understand

Gaining muscle is actually quite challenging, even for men who have naturally way more testosterone (a muscle building hormone) than women. If it was easy you’d see every person who went to the gym and lifted weights be absolutely huge. That’s just not the case. There are people (mostly men) who are bigger and more muscular but realise that it took them a very long time, sometimes many years, to get to that point. You might see female bodybuilders (who may be taking steroids) or elite female crossfit athletes who are very muscular and think that’s what weight training will result in.

But you need to be eating a lot of food, lifting a lot of weight and training frequently to fuel muscle growth to get to be the size that some of these men and women are. Not to mention the added assistance of steroids or performance enhancing drugs that may also be present in some cases. It just doesn’t make sense to equate your training with theirs.

The Take Home Message

If you’re a woman you normally have very low levels of testosterone. You’re not going to be eating a ton of surplus calories because you want to burn fat. And you won’t be training like an elite athlete or bodybuilder. There’s literally no need to worry about lifting weights or growing a tiny amount of muscle. Muscle is what gets you that “toned” look and helps keep you that way. It’s built very slowly so you’re not going to wake up one day and be completely different. If you feel like you’re getting a look you’re not happy with you can just stop, muscle is very easy to lose. A lot of my female clients who saw more definition in their arms, legs and other body parts actually loved having a little more muscle. Maybe you will too. If you have any questions about training or would like to explore working with me to help you look your best get in touch at 0870536322.

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