Archive for September, 2012

Chances are, you’ve thought about working out at some point in your life. If you’re a woman, chances are that you’ve worried that working out would bulk you up and make you look like a man. Why do we worry about this? Why do women think that any little bit of muscle is manly? Why don’t we embrace a strong, healthy woman and instead insist that curvy and soft are the only womanly features we can have? Well, to start off with, let’s look at a little history. Back in the middle ages/Renaissance Era, women with very voluptuous figures were regarded as “sexy” and were the subjects of numerous paintings. This was based on the fact that your status was represented in your body type: if you had money, you obviously weren’t hurting for food. On top of that, women of the upper class likely had maids to clean, cook, and watch the children, so she had little physical activity to do leading to the celebration of body types such as those seen below:

The idea of women as a curvy, soft specimen were continued up through the Victorian Era until the 1900’s.  The pendulum seemed to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum during this time, with fashion highlighting models who were not only thin, but in some cases dangerously underweight. So where are we now? Thankfully, with the increased fame and celebration of female athletes, an athletic body type seems to be rising to the forefront of what “sexy” embodies. Even many Hollywood celebrities have traded their uber skinny bodies for a more toned look: think Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Biel, and even Jennifer Aniston.

So back to the original point: why should you work out and how can you make sure you won’t look manly doing it? The perception that lifting weights will make you bulk up is utterly false and is based on the images of female bodybuilders who likely are using “questionable” supplements and countless hours of lifting in order to achieve their size:

Such body types are unhealthy in a variety of ways, however maintaining muscle mass in general is just the opposite. A good mix of strength training, cardio, and a proper diet will keep you at weight that is healthy. In fact, muscle burns calories even when you’re not working out which will promote a leaner body type!

To avoid undesirable mass, you have to first pick where exactly you want to fall on the spectrum. If you just want to be toned, then an exercise routine consisting of 3+ days of cardio and 2-3 days of lifting is the way to go. On those lifting days, think lower weights and higher reps, and incorporate a whey protein supplement or my favorite, Orgain. Yoga and pilates are also good options for either cardio or strength days. For someone who wants to maintain a slightly more athletic build, moderate weights 3-4 days a week will help you target muscle groups or movements more specifically. Protein supplements can either be whey, casein, and/or mass gainer. Remember that cardio for most bodybuilders is going to consist of low intensity cardio, like walking or doing the stair climber, to decrease muscle breakdown.

In summary, just know that you will get the body that you train for. Realize that going to the gym and lifting weights is not going to make you look like a female Arnold. Even my 55-year-old mother lifts weights and trust me, she is nowhere near “bulked up”. Just because we’re female doesn’t mean we have to be soft, fleshy, curvy, or plump. Let’s advance past that 18th century, housebound female stereotype and show the world what a strong woman looks like. We’ve been strong on the inside all along; it’s time to let it out!

And on a final note, here’s some humor for the road:

Whenever I get a piece of inspiration, I like to pass it on. And some of my fans and supporters do the same! This was sent to me by a follower on my Facebook page and I wanted to share it with everyone:


By: Lucas G. Irwin

Most people don’t understand, but you’re ok with that. For you, training is not a hobby or a social activity; it is a way of life. Those around you say that you are obsessed, taking it too far and possibly insane. They can’t understand why you won’t eat birthday cake, why you bring Tupperware full of chicken to a party or why you go to sleep early on a Friday to rest up for a Saturday training session. But you don’t care. Their accusatory tones, sarcastic remarks and insults are merely cotton bullets firing at a titanium wall of perseverance known as YOU.

You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any negativity that surrounds you is fueled purely by jealousy. Jealous that you are capable of unconditionally committing to something that most cannot stick to for more than a few weeks as part of their yearly resolution. Jealous that you gladly embrace a level of pain, discomfort and fatigue that others cringe at the idea of suffering a fraction of. Jealous that you take time to count carbs, protein, fats and calories while they count their chicken nuggets to make damn sure their 10 piece isn’t a 9 piece. In short, they’re Jealous of YOU.

Ironically, all the comments, nagging and questioning that is meant to break you down a little, does just the opposite. Every negative word reminds you of how special and uncommon your mechanical allegiance to training really is, in turn, pushing you harder. So bring it on! Let them call you obsessed, crazy or insane and watch you get stronger with every word. The only one who can slow you down is yourself. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you are both an immovable object and an unstoppable force……