Nothing makes my fit bottom twitch more than when I hear a girl say that she doesn’t want to lift heavy weights because she doesn’t want to “bulk up” or “get big.” I’m not saying this because I know every darn thing about the human body or because I look like Jillian Michaels (look left, clearly I don’t). Instead, I’m saying this because, in my experience, heavy weights take you from a pretty-fit girl to a strong girl—both mentally and physically. Lifting heavier weights also makes you feel like a bad-ass, which never gets old, in my opinion.
For the past few months I’ve been going to a gym that has pushed me to work out harder—and lift heavier—than I ever have before. I’ve flipped tires, sprinted up hills, performed Olympic lifts and done too many mountain climbers to count, among other various feats. I know now that when push comes to shove, sure, I can do 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, 100 push-ups and even 100 assisted pull-ups (a MAJOR coup d’état for me!) in 30 minutes. I may be sore for three days after, but it’s a badge of uncomfortableness I wear proudly.
I’ve also learned that when it comes to working out, the girls can roll with the big boys. At The Fit Pit, there’s no women’s or men’s classes or workouts—we do it together. Sure, I may do it a little slower and with a little less weight than the dudes (or the amazing women who have been doing the workouts for years and can bang out 25 real pull-ups like it’s nuthin’—can you say “inspiring?”), but I’m doing the same moves as the guys and the same number of reps. Whether it’s swinging a 35-pound kettlebell (see photo above), dead-lifting 75 pounds or slamming a 25-pound medicine ball down, weight is our friend. And heavy weights get results.
I started out going to The Fit Pit once a week and almost immediately began to see my body change and get stronger. After a month or two, I started going twice a week. That’s when that line on my arm appeared—and I really got hooked because I started to look as strong as I was starting to feel. Now I’m flirting with the idea of going three days a week, although I’m waiting for my body to tell me when’s the right time to do so (read: I can go and not be sore for more than a day).
But—and here’s the real reason why I’m telling you all this—these hard, high-intensity workouts (many of which don’t last much longer than 20 minutes, mind you) aren’t just building muscle, they are showing me that I can do so much more than I ever thought. Much different than running a marathon, which tests your endurance and, in many ways, your will, these Cross-Fit style workouts are making me an athlete. They’re working my body in ways that my previous workouts haven’t: power, explosiveness, agility and coordination. I’m in better shape now at 30 than I was in college, when I was teaching multiple group exercise classes a day. Now I’m working out a max of five times a week (usually two at The Fit Pit, two short runs and one yoga session).
Oh, and by the way, lifting heavier weights will not—I repeat, will not—bulk you up unless you spends hours and hours doing it and possibly buy some “supplements” from that shady dude with the huge veins at the gym (note: never, ever do this). So what are you waiting for? Lift a little more and work a little harder, no matter if you’re just starting your fitness journey (with your doc’s permission, of course!) or if you’re a resident gym rant. Your body and mind will thank you! —Jenn