- It’s a common misconception that lifting weights makes you too “bulky,” especially for women.
- Weight lifting is great for building a lean, defined physique, said actress/athlete Brooke Ence.
- Most people won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder and more muscle can boost fat burning, too.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you’re looking to get fit for the summer, don’t shy away from the weight room.
Strength training exercises are a great way to reach your fitness goals, according to actress and athlete Brooke Ence, who previously competed in the CrossFit Games and played an Amazon warrior in DC movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League.”
Too many people make the mistake of steering clear of barbells, kettlebells, or even dumbbells, especially heavy ones, for fear of getting too big, she said.
“I hear this primarily from women. They want the shape, they want the tone, but don’t want to get bulky,” Ence told Insider.
It’s a myth that lifting weights will make women bulky — or people of any gender, for that matter. Getting bodybuilder-huge muscles takes years of hard work and dedication, so don’t worry about it happening by mistake, Ence said.
What weight lifting can do, she said, is help you see better results from your workouts by improving your overall strength and body composition (ratio of muscle to fat), and you don’t have to be a superhero to do it.
Getting ‘bulky’ doesn’t happen by accident
While Ence is proof that women can and do put on a lot of muscle while weight-training, she said that her physique is the result of lifelong athleticism. Most of us can’t expect to look like an Amazon with a few days a week of weight training.
Ence said it’s taken years of hard work to put on muscle mass while staying relatively lean. Her gains developed as a result of training for serious athletic endeavors, like CrossFit.
“That doesn’t happen overnight. I’m the same weight and have been most of my athletic career, and I was training hard every day,” Ence said.
More muscle can help you burn fat effectively
It’s a persistent misconception that you should avoid big weights if you want to slim down or look more svelte. You can’t change the shape of your muscles by “toning” them — muscles can get bigger or smaller, and they’re more visible if your body fat percentage is low.
“If you want definition and tone, that’s going to come from applying stress and hard work,” Ence said.
Lifting weights not only helps you build muscle but it torches calories, since compound movements like squats and deadlifts require multiple groups of large muscles to work at once.
While it can be difficult to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, gradually building muscle will ultimately make your fat-burning efforts more successful, since it increases your overall metabolism.
Bodies are unique, so focus on strength instead of a specific look
Genetics also play a major role in how your body will look, which means it can be an exercise in futility to try to look a certain way, whether that’s slim and svelte, or swole and ripped.
Instead, if you focus on lifting weights to get stronger, your body will naturally adjust towards whatever athleticism looks like for you.
“Muscle has a lot to do with genetics. If I do what I’m supposed to do, my body has a muscular shape,” Ence said. “I wasn’t training to work on a specific body part. I was getting stronger.”
Weight lifting doesn’t have to be scary, even for beginners
Regardless of your experience level, there’s no need to feel intimidated at the gym, Ence said. While it’s easy to worry about getting hurt or looking ridiculous, lifting weights isn’t any riskier than other forms of exercise for either your physical health or your ego, according to research.
If you’re new to the weight room, your first step should be to find a good coach so you can perfect your form. If you’ve got the basics down, it’s helpful to have a solid plan and a routine for your specific goals.
Ence’s app, Naked Training, offers one such program, with tips on nutrition, workouts, and mobility routines to improve your performance and help you meet aesthetic goals, too.
“Everyone should be confident in their own skin, that’s the focus,” she said.
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