This is perhaps the ultimate reality check.
Pilates is a great form of strength training. Feel the burn!
A common misconception is that the “lean” look is acquired by doing more cardio and less strength. Sure, “more cardio” will help you lose fat, but you’ll also be losing muscle. Without anaerobic and strength training, your body burns fat AND muscle, resulting in a slower metabolism. With even more cardio, you’ll gain fat faster now that you don’t have the muscle mass to burn the extra calories.
If you want that lean, slim look, you need to build muscle to speed your metabolism. A toned physique comes from strength training 3-4 days/week and also adding in HIIT workouts as well to help burn fat.
In a nutshell? Don’t forget strength training! I’ve created a beginner’s guide to strength training to help you guys out.
Will I Get Bulky?
NO! Unless you’re taking steroids or lifting REAAAAALLLY heavy weights in combination with an overload of protein, you’re not going to get bulky. Trust me on this, you guys. Women do not build muscle like men do.
By lifting weights, you get toned and lean since muscle takes up less space than fat.
The heavier weights you use, the quicker you will see results! I started on 8lb dumbbells, and now I’m on 15lbs for all my exercises (biceps curls, tricep kickbacks, lunges, squats, etc.)
Am I bulky?
How Strength Training and Fat Loss Works
Ok here’s how strength training fat loss works:
- People think strength training makes them bulky, but muscles take up LESS space than fat does!
- Muscles speed up your metabolism to hypersonic speed
- They’re burnin’ those calories while you’re sitting on yo’ couch reading this answer and doing nothing at all
- You have to get rid of the fat on top of your muscles to get leaner — know how to do that? HIIT and Strength Training!
- Too much cardio eats away at your muscles and DECREASES your metabolism, causing your body fat percentage to increase
How Strength Training Helped Me
I lost my first 10lbs from just doing cardio and minimal strength training, probably once a week every other week. But I really saw results when I did consistent strength training 3-4x a week EVERY week. I really like what I see in the mirror, and it’s a LASTING change. Maintenance is so much easier because I’m burning additional calories just by sitting on the couch.
So 3-4 days a week, every week, do strength training. You will see results. Building muscle is KEY! And you won’t bulk up from two days a week. Trust me. These guns aren’t going to be visiting a gun show anytime soon. (But that’s also because I’m pear shaped, and building muscle in my upper body is difficult. Read more about body shapes here!)
How to Get Started
- Read my beginner’s guide to strength training
- Try out my 30 Day Youtube Workout Calendar! It is the perfect blend of strength and HIIT cardio to burn fat and build lean muscle.
- Not a beginner, but looking for some great strength workouts? I’m going to recommend to you a program I used: P90x.
Good luck. Don’t fear the weights! They will help you reach your goals.