Many women still believe they will look ‘bulky’ if they start lifting weights.
Looking at the thousands of women who have achieved eye-catching transformations with us at Ultimate Performance should show you that this is a myth.
The biggest risk for appearing ‘bulky’ comes from lifting weights but not changing your body composition.
If you increased your muscle size without reducing your body fat stores, the surface area of your body would increase. One pound of lean body mass takes up around 20% less space than a pound of body fat.
What is required – and what we focus on with our female clients – is a combination of weight training alongside a calorie deficit to promote fat loss and body composition change.
This helps our female client develop the coveted ‘lean and toned’ look.
Women should not fear lifting weights. Lifting moderate to heavy loads will help promote strength and hypertrophy without making you look bulky.
Resistance training is a particularly potent health tool for women, as it helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, age-related muscle loss and improves fertility.
Beyond its health benefits, weight training can help you become a more confident and independent version of yourself.
Fundamentally, the science of weight loss for women and men is the same.
Create a calorie deficit by reducing energy intake, and increasing energy expenditure and you will lose weight.
However, weight loss is less ‘linear’ for women, and the process of losing weight can be harder.
The menstrual cycle can make weight loss tougher for a number of reasons.
Water retention can cause fluctuations in weight. Hormonal changes can modulate metabolic rate. Cravings and appetite can increase, which makes dieting harder. Pain, low mood and other PMS symptoms can impact the ability to train with intensity.
Women have lower satiety signals than men, which can result in a higher drive to eat.
When they are primary caregivers, women are more likely to sacrifice their own health and well-being to care for others.
Working with a professional personal trainer can help give women guidance and accountability, emotional support, and expert strategies to navigate the menstrual cycle so they can lose weight more effectively.
Cardio is just one tool we can use to increase energy expenditure and lose weight.
But it is not necessarily the ‘best’ for fat loss.
Yes, cardio will increase your calorie burn – and if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight overall.
But we cannot determine where this weight is lost from (fat, muscle, water etc).
Most people don’t just want to be smaller or weigh less on the scales – they want to lose fat specifically and feel more ‘toned’.
We do this by creating a calorie deficit while encouraging the body to retain lean body mass by lifting weights and eating a high-protein diet.
Cardio can help us achieve this calorie deficit. But there’s nothing magically ‘fat burning’ about it. Some forms of cardio can also interfere with your gym training and impair your recovery.
We find that walking is often the best way to minimise stress and burn sufficient calories to achieve the results our clients want. A target of 10,000 steps per day is a good place to start for most people.
‘Fasted cardio’ is still a hot topic in fitness – but studies repeatedly show there is no difference between training in a fasted or fed state for fat loss.
Training on an empty stomach doesn’t magically burn more fat. Fat loss is determined ultimately by your energy balance – the amount of calories you consume and burn over the day.
That doesn’t mean to say there are no benefits, however.
Some people will feel they perform better on an empty stomach. Some people will feel their output and performance is much higher in a fed state.
Ultimately, it is up to your individual preferences when you feel most energised so you can get the maximum benefit from each workout possible.