All veteran lifters know what it feels like to hit a personal best at the gym. It’s just the greatest thing to meet a goal that’s been calling your name for a while! If you want to smile, watch this video. It’s only a few seconds long but that little baby has the spirit!
This is a silly meme but it actually does contain a relevant message, particularly for women. I hear women say they want a tight, toned body all the time but that they don’t want to lift weights for fear of looking “bulky” or “too muscular” or “like a man.” I always assure them that isn’t going to happen. In order to really put on enough mass to look that way, they’d have to pursue a very purposeful, properly designed, mass-building, lifting and nutritional program. It definitely won’t happen by mistake!
A toned female body IS a muscular body. They are one and the same. You can lift to your heart’s content and unless you mean to pack on mass that will give you the physique of a bodybuilder, physique competitor or even a professional bikini competitor, you won’t. Contrary to what they think, It’s very hard to do. It requires intentionality that they clearly don’t have.
I happen to like a more-than-just-toned female physique. I guess that’s why I’ve spent so many hours/months/years in the gym actively trying to add those lovely (big) muscular curves I love so much. Even with supreme effort, I’ve never been able to pack on or maintain as much mass as I’d like. That’s how I know that it’s not going to just happen because a woman dares touch the iron. Plenty of women lift a lot and end up with a nice, jiggle free, toned physique as a reward.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the time, when women say they don’t lift because they just want to be toned but not bulky, it’s really because they don’t want to put in any hard work. Lifting looks like hard work (and it is) but it’s the best, fastest way to get toned that I know.
Over the years, I’ve contemplated trying crossfit. There are many people I know who swear by it. According to them it’s the best thing since sliced bread. At times, there’s a little good natured friction between the crossfit crowd and traditional lifters. If I had to pick a side, I’d stay in the weight room doing what I do. I don’t think crossfit is for me. That’s not because I don’t think it’s an effective way to exercise but it requires things I sincerely don’t want to do.
First, I’m not fond of getting my heart rate into the upper ranges when I’m doing my gym thing. If I’m sprinting at the track, no problem, but I don’t like doing that as part of a lifting exercise. I do work diligently but I don’t like the feeling of truly exhausting myself consistently in workouts. I like to lift hard and leave the gym feeling my muscles have been challenged but I don’t want to droop for the rest of the day. I use workouts to generate, not deplete, my energy for other things.
I also don’t like being timed during exercise. Sometimes I go fast, sometimes I go more slowly depending on how I feel. Daily competition for time doesn’t interest me and I think it has the potential to encourage injury as you start to fatigue. Form is always important. If you deviate from proper form (and there are times I purposely allow it for myself) you have to do it with intention and strict attention so you don’t get hurt. Trying to do a series of exercises fast, leaves a lot of room for sloppy movements.
The one other concern I have is that crossfit involves a lot of jerky movement. I say this from observing the crossfitters at the gym I used to attend. There seems to be a lot of “throwing” the weights around. I’m sure this isn’t what’s supposed to happen and that good supervision and training would lessen the prevalence of this but it’s easy to slip into less-than-perfect-form when you’re doing some of their movements. Beginners, those improperly trained and people over 40 (me) would be at particular risk from injury when tackling these exercises.
Even though crossfit isn’t for me, I have seen people really change their physiques doing it. It’s another choice for people who want variety in their workouts. Lots of people love it. I say…more power to them! When you find something that floats your boat and gets you to look forward to exercise, it’s a wonderful thing.
There are roughly three main body types in the population. They are known as Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs and Endomorphs.
To help you visualize what an ectomorph looks like, think of the physique that Olive Oyl had in the old Popeye cartoons.
She was tall and slender. She had little body fat and no curves. I looked a lot like her before I started lifting weights (except that I was never tall). In the days before my love affair with the gym started, I was very slight. As a matter of fact my friends made up a poem about me. It went, “Lynnie is skinny from too little dinny.” Yes, we were an incredibly talented and creative bunch!
Thinking about body types brought to mind a post I wrote a couple of years ago. I thought I’d share it here.
Reasons I’ll Never Have a Swelled Head
A while ago, I picked up my boys from school. I waited for them out front then walked them down the hill to the car. As I bent my legs to get in, I felt that particular soreness that only heavy squats can bring. “Ow, ow, ow” I muttered as I slid into the seat. My older boy, ever the sweet and compassionate child piped up. “What hurts now?” I explained that my legs were complaining and told him proudly about my fantastic leg day and how happy I was because I’d managed a personal best for the dreaded squats. He wanted to know how much weight I had used. I told him and he retorted “Oh mom, that’s so pathetic! Mike can do so much better than that!” The Mike he was referring to happens to be a Bodyspace friend who is a completely amazing , freak of a human being…a true gym beast. I laughed because the comparison was so outrageous and went on to explain that there was no way for me to squat like Mike. “First of all” I said, “I’m a woman. Not only that, I’m a small woman…slender with little bones….kind of like a fairy or a sprite. Matter of fact” I went on, “there is a name for my body type. I’m what’s called an Ectomorph!” Right then, my little one piped up from the back seat. “What did she say? What is she?” His brother turned to him and said “She thinks she’s a fairy…or a sprite or an…an…Ectodwarf!” They both burst out laughing and I had to listen to chants of “Mommy is an Ectodwarf” all the way home.
In case you were wondering, they haven’t forgotten it. Just last night my older boy leaned over the banister to call his brother for dinner. “The Ectodwarf says come up here…it’s time to eat!” It’s not funny, not funny at all! They can’t remember to take out the garbage or bring in the milk but they can sure remember that! Geez…