Don’t Be Scared to Lift Heavy (+My Upper Body Strength Routine)

Many women still believe that lifting heavy weights will give them a bulky or “manly” look, but this could not be further from the truth.

Strength training has endless benefits, but some people are still scared of increasing their weight. Doing bodyweight strength exercises (squats, lunges, etc) are great, but I have found that by adding heavy weight to my strength training routine, my body composition has changed because I can burn fat more effectively, even when I’m not exercising. And I don’t mean holding two three pound dumbbells. I mean really trying to build up to a very challenging weight that makes the last repetition very difficult. This also means that you will be decreasing how many reps you do. Remember, this does not happen over night. If you suddenly try to lift way more weight than you are used to, it can result in injury. It can take weeks to build up your strength, so it is best to go little by little. Remember, there is no finish line to strength training. You can always get stronger, and there is always room for growth so keep working at it! I started doing squats with only ten pounds, and now I can lift one hundred. It takes time, consistency, and patience but there is nothing like seeing the progress you have made and how much you are capable of.

Here are some reasons why lifting heavy weights is a great idea, and you should start increasing the weight on your strength exercises.

  1. Muscles are a girl’s best friends: A study from Tufts University found that the more muscle you have, the better your chances are of living a longer life. Having more muscle can also improve your posture, and it gives you better stamina.
  2. Increases bone density: Having strong bones is so important because they protect your internal organs, which means you have a less chance of getting injured if you fall, and it decreases your chances of developing osteoporosis.
  3. Promotes fat loss: Lifting weights creates something called a post workout energy expenditure, which means you will still be burning calories even after you finish the workout. There have been studies showing that post-workout energy expenditure is higher after a strength session as compared to a steady state cardio session.
  4. Make you smarter: Lifting weights can actually enhance cognitive function. This is because it increases production of the hormone called IGF-1. This hormone is responsible for stimulating growth of new neural pathways in the brain.
  5. Improved patience: Increasing your weights can help you become more patient because you will realize that it takes time and hard work to build up strength. Lifting heavy gives you more confidence as well because as you become stronger, you will realize that your body is more capable than you ever thought before.

The clip below shows four exercises from my upper body strength training day (not all of them). For these four exercises, I lifted a weight that really challenged me and made the last repetition nearly impossible. And I am not scared of having bulky, or big arms, because lifting heavier gives the sculpted and defined look that I really like.

Full Workout Upper Body Strength Workout (targets the biceps, triceps, shoulders, back)

3 sets of 8 Repetitions

  • One arm rows (20 pounds each arm)
  • Pullovers (30 pounds)
  • Chest flies (40 pounds total)
  • Reverse grip rows (50 pounds)
  • Overhead Tricep Extension (20 pounds)
  • Chest Press (50 pounds total)
  • Tricep kickbacks (8 pounds each hand)
  • Hammer curl to overhead press (30 pounds)
  • Lateral to ventral raise (5 pounds each hand)

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