Today at the gym I run into a friend. After a quick chat, while I was about to leave he asked me: ' Dont you feel weird being the only girl in the weight lifting area?' I took a look around. Yeap, once again I was the only woman there. Since I ve started working out I ve realized that the typical female workout consists of about an hour of cardio followed by a few machines (abductor/adductors and abs seem to be the most popular) and perhaps a few bicep curls with 1kg dumbbells. Most women believe two things 1) that if they do lots of cardio and burn lots of calories they will lose fat and get the body they want and 2) if they lift heavy they will end up looking like a man! Dont get me wrong, cardio is good for you, helps you create a calorie deficit which is essential for fat loss, and helps you stay healthy (I do about 2 hours/week) but there are a few things that us ladies should consider
1. Cardio in females usually increases hunger which makes it harder for us to diet
2. Lots of cardio can cause women to 'drop' muscle. Unfortunately we have less muscle and lose it much easier compared to men. So lots of cardio can make us 'skinny fat'. The less muscle = slower metabolism (muscles burn more calories compared to fat), = harder to lose weight and easier to gain! (which brings me to my next point...)
3. Muscles can only be built by lifting heavy. When you lift you create small tears in your muscles. Your body repairs them and adds a bit of extra muscle in order to be prepared if this (tearing of the muscles) happens again.
4. For your body to repair the muscles it needs energy, so by lifting heavy you continue to burn calories even after you have left the gym
5. Doing lots of cardio in the face of low calories can make our hormones go cccrrrazy which can cause bloating and prevent fat loss.
6. Lifting heavy will not make a woman bulky nor look like a man. I reaallly wish it was that easy to built muscle but it is not. Women have about ten times less testosterone than men. Testosterone is a very anabolic hormone found in our body that is essential for muscle building. Since we have this hormone in such low levels we can lift heavy without fear! In addition to this, in order to built some serious muscles you need to be in a calorie surplus i.e eat more than your maintenance calories. So unless you are eating a lottttt and perhaps taking some testosterone pills you will be just fine!
7. More muscle will actually make you look smaller!
So what I would recommend for any woman looking to get fit is to limit cardio to 1-2/ week and start lifting. If you are a beginner you can start by doing a full body workout 2-3/ week or an upper/lower body split. And dont do any pointless cardio. Walking for an hour at 5km/hr will do you no good. Do some intervals or HIIT . More information and workouts can be found here . (but please ignore the part on calories and macros as I find the calculators inaccurate, to calculate your needs I would suggest you use this link )
...AND... a quick recipe
This is a very easy, low carb recipe that can help you trick yourself into thinking you are eating fried chicken.
You will need an egg white and some milk, a chicken breast, and some almond meal (grounded almonds). Combine the egg white with a bit of milk and dip both sides of the breast in the mixture. Coat the chicken breast with almond meal (I used ~15g for a small chicken breast), add salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 20 mins!
Please feel free to leave any comments or questions:)