Why I Strength Train

Why do I strength train? But won’t it make you bulky? Why on earth would you want to lift such heavy stuff? Aren’t you afraid you’ll hurt your back? Don’t you get bored doing the same exercises every day?

These are questions I am asked a LOT by family, friends, co-workers, and strangers on the street who find out I’ve been weight training for the last two years. I’d like to answer each one just to set the record straight. I’d also like to share that Starting Strength has changed my life. If you’ve considered or are currently interested in weight training look into this specific program. You can find a coach near you or utilize their online coaching.

Why do I strength train? I decided to join the fight against muscular atrophy. I witnessed my grandparents slowly decline over the years and with that came natural muscle atrophy which led to decreased mobility and independence. I don’t want that for myself and I’ll do whatever it takes to avoid that same fate. As we age it’s natural to lose muscle mass, but if you’re working against it and adding or maintaining muscle mass you’re going to have an easier time in the end. Just think about it, you’ll be able to get off the couch, get off the toilet, have better balance to prevent falls, and if you do fall you’l have stronger bones to prevent fractures .

But won’t it make you bulky? The irony of this question makes me laugh long and hard. Women are mainly who ask this question and they always ask it with this disgusted/worried look on their face. They’re envisioning women who are so ripped you could bounce a quarter off their behind and whose chest looks like the pecs on Arnold. These women are most likely taking some kind of steroid because *most* women just don’t form muscle like that. Women have far less testosterone floating around their bodies compared to men and therefore, unless you’re genetically predisposed (which is highly unlikely) to that look like that or you’re taking supplements you will not end up looking like a female Arnold. I laugh about it because  I’ve gone from a size 18 to a size 12 over the course of my two years or strength training (and I’m still continuing to lose inches). So yeah, I may be larger than the average woman because I have more muscle than the average woman, but I’m actually smaller now than I was 2 years ago.  Do I still have a little extra fat that I’d like to get rid of? Sure I do! But you know what will get rid of that stubborn fat? Growing bigger muscles. Muscles burn fat. Especially when you are lifting heavy and putting your muscles through the ringer. Ah, science. So, the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. I’m not saying it’ll be quick but over time you will lean out (assuming you’re eating to fuel those muscles).

Why on earth would you want to lift such heavy stuff? For no other reason than it makes me feel like a bad ass mother trucker. Women need to feel stronger and more empowered and I guarantee nothing makes you feel those two things more than when you’re squatting more than you weigh.

Aren’t you afraid you’ll hurt your back? I was in a car accident my senior year of high school, I was sitting at a stand still and was rear ended by a car going 55 MPH. I went through physical therapy, massage therapy, and was put on pain killers and muscle relaxers due to a lower back injury and resulting pain.  After those initial treatments I was told I’d have to see a chiropractor for essentially the rest of my life if I wanted to stay pain free. And I did see one, throughout college and even after. Nothing has helped my constant lower back pain quite like weight training. After working on my form, lifting with said proper form, and slowly increasing my back strength I now walk around with zero back pain. That’s HUGE. I amazed at my lack of back pain now compared to where I was at 8 years ago. Nothing holds your body in alignment quite like muscle. Imagine that.

Don’t you get bored doing the same exercises every day?  The short answer, NOPE. Each and every workout is a challenge because each and every workout you’re either adding weight to the bar or you’re retrying a weight that you failed at the last time. For my competitive personality this works well because it’s like a game, I’m always striving to improve. I LOVE being able to add weight to the bar, especially on the press and bench press. I’ve never been one to have a whole lot (if any) upper body strength so finally having a little is exhilarating. In fact, I’m working towards my first body weight chin up and I’m pretty darn close! The day I get one will be one of the happiest days of my life. Because that was my only goal two years ago when I started weight training: I want to be able to do a pull up.

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