Ladies Lifting Weights: Get Strong, Not “Toned”

When I first started my weight loss journey, like every other person ready to get into the best shape of their lives, I purchased a gym membership. Unfortunately, also like every other person just starting out, I was overwhelmed by the gym. My first foray into fitness involved me slowly walking circles around my gym, staring at each piece of equipment in apprehension. I mean, sure, most of them came with instructions, but my over-analytical nerd brain took it too far. Instead of picking a random machine and plopping down, I started to wonder which machines were good, and which were a waste of time. What order should I do things? Should I do only “leg things” one day and “arm things” another? I really aspired to lift the free weights, but that was even scarier to me! If the machines were blowing my mind, the idea of lifting weights downright terrified me. I knew nothing about free weights except that they were hard to do correctly. Worse than my fear of doing it wrong, though, was my fear of people seeing me doing it wrong. All I could think was, “I’m a girl. A fat girl who is obviously not athletically inclined. In an area of the gym girls don’t normally dwell. Doing it wrong. They’re all going to laugh at me.” Sometimes I would summon the nerve to finally walk to the barbell, ready to try my hand at squats, and then would immediately run like a frightened animal when a guy would come inside the gym.

Because of my fear, I turned to cardio. I would spend 20-60 minutes on the elliptical, blasting my happy 80′s dance music while swishing the bars in time to the songs. Everyone said when you were first losing weight, that cardio was the way to go, and that “strength training” was something you did when you wanted to “tone.” They said cardio burned fat and lifting weights would make you look bigger than you are due to muscle. These terrible, terrible misconceptions combined with my fear of failing at weights kept me in the cardio section. I wasn’t happy with this exercise routine, though. I was bored with the cardio, even when I felt physically challenged by it. My muscles never ached after workout sessions, although I was sufficiently sweaty. Worse, though, is that I wasn’t seeing the physical progress I had expected to see from getting a gym membership. I still looked pretty squishy with zero muscle, and as my weight number kept dwindling as the months passed, I still had the same physique. I had lost over 60 pounds and I still felt.. well, fat.

With my frustration level pretty high, I had finally found the motivation to do my research on weightlifting. I started watching youtube videos, reading guides, and posting a fitness log on Something Awful to get constructive criticism on my workouts and form. I didn’t get the forms right at first; in some cases, it took me many months of trial and error to finally get it. People stared and I felt uncomfortable, but guess what? I got over it. Because, in the end, the results are worth a little staring. Sometimes, guys will try to “help” me unload weights off the barbell, or will make patronizing comments, but again: it’s worth it. It’s really scary going in there ignorant and afraid of judgment, but I’m stronger now, in more ways than one. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a deep breath and force yourself to push through. I like to compare it to jumping in the pool, really. You think if you take little baby steps, it’ll be easier to gradually expose yourself to it, eventually becoming comfortable enough to swim. You soon realize, though, that it’s really freaking cold, and after dipping your body in each inch and realizing how unpleasant it is, you just stop there or use it as an easy out. Instead, you’ve got to take a deep breath, take a running start, and dive right in. Once you’ve gotten over that initial unpleasantness, you realize, Wow, it’s not that big of a deal after all.

THE GUIDE

I know I’m not an expert by any means- hell, I’ve only been doing this for a few months!- but people have been requesting tips on how to get into weightlifting. I’ll try to keep it brief, but I’ll leave a few links to the sites that helped teach me what I know.  If you have anything you think should be added, or any information that seems not correct, feel free to let me know!

Let’s start with the basics: muscle. The whole premise behind weightlifting is to make your muscles stronger. For that to happen, you have to push your muscles, and when you push your muscles, you are basically breaking down the muscles to rebuild stronger. The cells build up faster than they break down, though, so you have to increase the pressure on the muscles or the process will balance out and the muscles will stay at the same level. Which means, ladies, that everything you have probably been told about weightlifting is wrong. Low intensity workouts that don’t challenge your muscles, or doing repeated reps at lower weights, do nothing for your muscles. All you’re doing is burning calories, and not even efficiently.

“But Criss,” you’ll stubbornly argue. “I don’t want to get bulky and big like a man! I just want to be toned.”

Stop right there. It’s time to debunk a few myths.

“Tone” is a term women’s magazines coined as an alternative to “gaining muscle,” since women picture bodybuilders at any mention of muscle. It refers to a very specific, lean look of low body fat and a bit of muscle. Guess what? That’s the look you obtain through lifting weights. You will not look bulky if you pick up weights! The “big” women who weightlift didn’t get there by accident, but by working as hard and intelligently as they could to get there,  some even using steroids.  If you need any reassurance, look at my pictures. Do I look masculine or bulky? I didn’t think so. If anything, weightlifting actually gives us curvier silhouettes, giving us shapelier, rounded butts and thighs. Yes, please; give me my free hourglass figure!

Let me just mention a few facts about women and weightlifting to ease your fears. Unlike men, we are not genetically predisposed to put on large amounts of muscle, since we lack enough testosterone (no, really?). I know some tiny little 105-pound Asian girls who can lift more than most men, actually. And even if we could put on muscle as easily as men.. well, it’s actually not that easy. You have to follow a very specific lifting routine religiously, eat thousands upon thousands of clean calories as fuel, get hundreds of grams of protein, and even still, it won’t happen overnight, or even within a few months. As a woman, if you put on 5-10 pounds of pure, lean muscle in a year, that’s an impressive feat, and requires an intense amount of dedication. It doesn’t happen by accident. You don’t just wake up one day with 10 pounds of muscle and go, “Oops, I went too far!”

“But Criss,” you’ll again argue. “I just want to get rid of my thigh fat and tone my core to see abs.”

Spot reduction is a nasty, nasty myth. Unless you have plastic surgery, it is literally impossible. Where you gain and lost fat is 100% dependent on genetics. You can’t “replace” fat with muscle (they are two different things!), but you can gain muscle underneath to make it look firmer and less flabby. Which debunks yet another myth that lifting weights when you’re trying to lose weight results in you looking fatter. Nope! You actually look sturdier and more athletic. You might gain a couple of pounds of muscle and water weight from lifting on the scale only, but you will actually look slimmer and leaner. Isn’t that what you want? As for abs, well, let me repeat the time old adage that is so true: abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. You will see abs when your body fat percentage decreases, which will be a result of your diet. Doing 500 sit-ups is a waste of your time.

Need more reasons to lift weights? I’ve got ‘em.

  • Fact: lifting weights actually increase your metabolism. Um, yes, please, I’d like to make getting obese again harder.
  • Fact: lifting weights actually cause the bone to become more dense. Since women are more at risk for osteoporosis (four times as likely as men, actually), this is a very healthy means of preventing that.
  • Fact: the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, period. Even while doing nothing at all! So for those of us who go to the gym and then want to come home and play some good ol’ video games like the nerds that we are, you’re burning more doing nothing at all. Isn’t that awesome?
  • Fact: the more focused you get on fitness, the less you have to obsess over silly, frivolous things like calorie counting the rest of your lives. Did you know most people who lose weight not only re-gain their lost pounds, but then some? There’s a reason for that: it’s just mentally and emotionally taxing to have to restrict yourself like that, and a lot of people find it depressing to have to spend the rest of their lives stressing over every calorie and carb. But when you focus on fitness, food not only becomes fuel instead of the enemy or comfort, but it also means you can EAT MORE while maintaining or improving your figure. You’ll also feel better about yourself, because you will eventually start finding delight in your increasing numbers instead of huddled in a bathroom corner, sobbing over the silly scale number that went up after a night out with friends. Who wants to live like that? I don’t!

“Okay, fine, Criss,” you grudgingly concede, “you’re right. I’m mentally braced to do this, but.. I’m like you were. Afraid and overwhelmed. How do I start?”

You can start reading the guides I started with! I can’t be there with you to show you how to do everything, but I can give you the tools to learn on your own. Don’t be afraid to learn on your own. You might think you need a physical trainer, but save your money. Most don’t bother with weightlifting, and will waste your time and money. Everything you should be doing you can learn to do on your own.

Here are the three main lifts you will need to do:

The Squat

The Bench Press

The Deadlift

You will do other exercises to supplement your workout, but these three lifts are called the “Big Three,” and are the meat and bread of your workouts. They are compound workouts that work multiple muscle groups, which means you get more bang for your buck, basically.

As for specific workout routines, I recommend Starting Strength, as it’s meant for people who lack strength and knowledge of the gym. It’s an amazing beginner routine, but more importantly, the most popular, which means a WEALTH of resources and knowledge on it. It even has its own wikipedia! Check it out here. It explains EVERYTHING.

Here are a few other tips I will leave you with before I conclude this post:

  • Use Fitocracy to track your workouts. Don’t have an account? That’s okay! I have a code for you HERE! Why should you track? Because, one, getting involved with other people keeps you accountable, and two, it will help you when you get constructive criticism and positive comments on your progress.
  • Use a camera or a phone to record your squats and deadlifts every once in a while. Post them on places like Reddit’s fitness community or on Fitocracy’s forum to get feedback. Be brave, it’s okay. The mean internet people don’t usually come out to play when you’re posting form checks. I have NEVER been trolled when asking for help on form. Form is a very serious subject for most, and if anything, you might just get more detailed answers than you wanted.
  • If you think people are staring at you in the gym, it’s likely they aren’t. Most of us are there to work, and are focused on our work. I know it’s easy to fall into anxiety over lifting, especially as a woman, but I promise you: nobody cares. You might get a glance your direction, but sometimes it’s just someone looking to see if you’re done with the squat rack yet! I’m not saying people won’t be jerks or patronizing, because people can suck, but to this day, I’ve never had anyone be a jerk to me. I’ve had maybe two people ever say something to me, and it was about form or asking if I needed help unloading the weights. Just politely smile and refocus. Do your thing, giiiiiirl. (Oh god, I did not just say that!)
  • Recruit a friend to start coming to the gym and learning weightlifting with you. It makes it a lot easier to learn when you aren’t alone. Plus, hey, they can load the weights on the barbell while you’re lying there, catching your breath! Aw yeah.
  • This is probably the most important thing in this list of tips: do not get discouraged when you can’t lift a lot initially. That’s okay! Besides women not naturally starting out very strong, you’re also weaker initially because form is muscle memory. If all you can squat is the 45 pound barbell (yes, that’s how much it weighs!), that’s okay! If you can only bench press the bar, that’s okay too.
  • Don’t worry about increasing your lifts yet. Numbers do NOT matter at first. Focus instead on getting your form right and feeling comfortable doing it. It should feel natural to you.
  • Stay away from most of the machines! It’s okay to do some of the machines (cable crossovers, lateral pull downs, assisted pull-ups/triceps dips, chest flys) to supplement your workout, but try to keep your workout using primarily free weights. Machines basically make you do the work without as efficient results as the free weights. They’re not any safer, either, so don’t be fooled into that line of logic.
  • You don’t need to lift everyday! In fact, giving your muscles time to recover is absolutely necessary to make them grow. I lift 3-5 days a week only.
  • Your philosophy in the gym should be harder, not longer. Intensity is what gains you muscle, not length of time. If you are wasting your energy on large amount of low intensity things, you are basically just burning calories. Plus, by the time you try anything hard, you won’t be able to push your muscles to their max, because you are fatigued.
  • But on that same token, don’t push yourself TOO hard, especially if you don’t have a spotter. With a little time in the gym, you’ll learn to feel what is your line and how to edge it safely without putting yourself in danger.
  • Eat protein! Lots of it. Don’t know how? I’ll write on this later, but eggs, lean meats, peanut butter, and protein shakes are my favorite forms of protein. Protein is what feeds your muscle and fuels its growth.
  • Stay away from the Smith machine! The Smith machine is the bar attached to the rack with levers and whatnot. It’s bad. Don’t use it. Why? Here, read this article!
  • If you’re afraid to do bench presses without a spotter, take a deep breath to feel braver, and ask a kindly person in the gym. It might feel weird if you do, but believe me, that’s actually normal. Most guys will even ask each other if they need a spotter to help. If you don’t feel like you can even press the 45-pound bar without a spotter at first (totally reasonable!), it’s not unreasonable to perform the exercise with dumbbells. It’s not quite the same thing, and it’s hard to stabilize your arms and keep them parallel, but it’s a good substitute.
  • BREATHE. Right before you lift, take a couple of very even, deep breaths. Inhale before, and then slowly exhale on exertion. Don’t be afraid to be noisy while exhaling; it’s normal! Breathing correctly will seriously make or break some of your harder lifts, so it’s better to get into the habit NOW while you’re learning the forms.

Resources:

http://www.fitocracy.com: A great tool for tracking your fitness endeavors, and a very supportive, knowledgeable community.

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:Introduction: Starting Strength is the best lifting beginner program.

http://www.exrx.net/index.html: The best tool for weightlifting ever! It tells you everything you need to know, from actual animated GIFs of the exercises being done, strength standards, to exercise lists sorted by muscle group or body parts!

http://www.stumptuous.com/: A female-oriented website for weightlifting. Very helpful!

Happy lifting, ladies!

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54 responses to “Ladies Lifting Weights: Get Strong, Not “Toned””

  1. ktfitness says :

    This is perfect, you explained everything great. I hope girls can use them and stop using the misconceptions that they will look big and bulky. I think every female goes through that misconception at some point in time. Great article :)

  2. Marcela says :

    LOVE! THANK YOU!!

  3. Lauren Crandall says :

    Hey! Thanks for all the tips! I just became a member of fitocracy. Can I follow you? and if so… How do I find you?

  4. Kat says :

    I follow you on tumblr! You are such an inspiration! First I wanted to mention that I actually have found a way to “spot reduce” without surgery, it’s been on the news a couple times too! But I won’t go into it on your blog, get with me if you want more details…………but I DO just have to say, AWESOME and very detailed post! THANK YOU SO MUCH for addressing the whole “I’ll bulk up and get man arms if I lift weights” thing. Seriously…..huge pet peeve of mine. Great post, love it, and keep up the amazing work! -Kat

  5. Lauren says :

    Hey Criss, thanks so much for this post! I’m looking to start training with free weights either today or tomorrow (I’ve done machine training but it wasn’t that satisfying for me either). But I’m particularly worried about bench presses. The few times I’ve done it I was only strong enough to lift the bar and I’m concerned I won’t be able to do it without a spotter. Do you always have one? None of my friends are remotely interested in coming with me and I’m apprehensive about just asking someone to spot for me (plus, people are busy with their own workouts!). Should I try to find one or just put my big girl pants on and learn to do them unassisted?

    • criss says :

      I have a spotter for when I try to push myself, yes. If you aren’t too nervous, you can always ask a kindly looking person in the gym to help spot you. It’s very common, actually. If you are still afraid to do it alone, try to build up a little strength using dumbbells for the exercise. I actually find dumbbells harder with this exercise, in the sense that my arms never are never parallel, but it allows you to go to lower weights.

      • Lauren says :

        Thanks for the advice! There’s one or two people I see around that I might be okay with asking, and I think I will use the dumb bells the mean time to build up some strength (and confidence!).

  6. lisa says :

    i wish i could like… have you lift with me haha. i love lifting, but i stopped because school got hectic and then now i got this cold :( i’ve had the hardest time putting on lean mass (specifically because I don’t think i eat enough). can’t wait for your nutrition post
    -lazykitten/anotsolazykitten from Tumblr!

  7. huge says :

    …how are machines not safer than free weights? Machines completely remove the risk of dropping or unstable weights. They’re much safer. Additionally I laughed a little at your smith machine comment: if you’re talking about using the smith machine for squats, then yeah sure you’re probably better off using free weights (as long as your form is good) but the smith machine is an incredibly useful machine.

    • Pedro says :

      The reason it can be unsafe is because you’re working out specific muscle groups, but not ligaments, tendons, and other auxiliary muscles, stabilizers, etc. What this means is that there will be a muscle imbalance, meaning you’re a lot more likely to injure yourself doing everyday tasks.

      When you lift a bar above your head for example, if you tip it a little to the left/right, you have auxiliary muscles that help out to make sure the bar doesn’t fall to that side. This is why you use free weights, and not something that assists you.

      • Anna says :

        actually, by using your muscle you are using the tendons, they are directly joined, and ligaments are worked wih any movement as they stabalize the joint.
        However I do agree with the point about not using stabalizers, and this is a very important part of weight lifting
        As a Exercise Physiologist I see both pros and cons to using the machienes, for a beginner they are great as it is much easier to pick up the technique, they can also isolate a single musscle which is great if they have a particular imbalance, once they sort the imbalance out they can move onto more compound exercises, they also don require much input from the stabalisers which is benificial when you have an absolute beginner who wouldnt be able to brace their core to suppor their back when squatting so you can work on the stabaliser seperatly to work up o doing he compound free weigh exercise
        Negaives to the machienes are they have a limited ROM, alot of people set them up to the wrong height ect risking injury, and there is no use of stabalisers
        so really you cant say the use of machienes is bad in all cases, some people on the machienes would benifit from doing free weights, bu some are fine, just where they are

  8. John Woods (mohawkjohn on Fitocracy) says :

    I posted this on my Facebook, and within about ten minutes, you had acquired a fan club. Wonderful read, and astounding progress pictures.

    • mohawkjohn says :

      I do feel the need to add something, because I just got a frustrated-sounding call from my friend Erica, who has been in physical therapy for years, and is in the medical field:

      Deadlifts and squats can be *permanently debilitating* if you do them wrong. If you’ve never, ever lifted weights before, you cannot learn these techniques properly online — and there’s a good chance that other people at the gym are also doing them wrong. Do yourself a favor and ask an actual expert before attempting these, or even hire a personal trainer.

      And I’d also say, from my own experience, that you shouldn’t be afraid to start off with very low weight if you’re not sure what you can lift. No one will judge you, trust me. I learned Romanian deadlifts the other week, and because I wasn’t sure what I could lift, I started with just the bar. Did five reps, realized I could do a lot more, and added twenty pounds at a time until I got to where I wanted to be.

      • michelle says :

        Stop trying to scare people, weightlifting is safer than most other sports, look at the chart in the middle of this page:
        http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Safety.html

        I think the same or similar chart is in Starting Strength too.

      • criss says :

        You can hurt yourself while running or using machines/equipment. I think the “use common sense” rule should apply to all fitness and sports, and shouldn’t need a disclaimer.

      • Rob says :

        I wonder if your friend would have had such an exasperated reply if you posted a blog about a woman getting healthy through running. Runners have a much higher injury rate than people training using barbell weights. I have friends who are in the medical profession as well and they are the biggest worriers when it comes to anything that goes outside the low-fat, steady state cardio paradigm of nutrition and exercise. I am sure your friend means well (and mine do as well), but there are countless number of people who learn to deadlift, squat and other such barbell exercises without professional help. You just have to be smart and take it slow until you are capable of handing heavy weights. The small risk of injury doing these exercises is worth the reward of functional strength for the rest of your life.

      • mohawkjohn says :

        michelle: I’m definitely not trying to scare anyone. I’ve actually been actively pushing people to read this article, which is why I got the angry phone call in the first place.

        I actually argued criss’ point about running and free weights also causing injuries. I’ve hurt myself pretty badly with the stupid machine arm curl just by having the damned wrist grips the wrong way. And right now my back is spasming from pull-ups, which don’t involve any machine at all.

        As for Rob: I understand what you’re saying, but respectfully, I think you’ve taken this to a place it didn’t need to go. Erica (the friend who called) is (a) a cancer survivor, (b) my martial arts instructor (and a black belt), and (c) probably able to lift more weight than me. I don’t think she doubts women’s ability to achieve in any type of training.

        In any case, to the rest of you out there, *please* don’t let anything I’ve said scare you away from weights. That’s the last thing I want to do, and I’d rather my comments be deleted than have someone avoid lifting because of my words.

      • michelle says :

        I don’t see how being a cancer survivor is relevant.

      • mohawkjohn says :

        michelle: Only in that she kicks butt in more ways than I can count.

  9. Miranda says :

    Criss, this is beautiful. I love how you addressed all the myths in one, fell swoop. You’re amazing!
    For people worried about a spotter – that’s what all those racks are for. There’s something there to catch the weight if you can’t handle it. If you’re squatting, you can just fall down on your butt and let the rack hold the bar. You can also bench in the power rack (“pin presses”). Set the safety bars so that you can still bench with proper form, but can wiggle/slide yourself out from underneath if you can’t press the bar back up. I scraped my nose on the bar doing this the other day, but that was a minor injury compared to what I might have done.

  10. Tina says :

    You are my hero right this moment. I’m in that place where weightlifting is terrifying and while I was still determined to try, this article gave me that extra bit of oomph to push me through a want to just give up. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • tina says :

      Just an update: I’m two weeks in and I LOVE IT! I did a 115lb deadlift the other night and just felt amazing and strong and absolutely beautiful. Thank you forever for being the extra push I needed.

  11. michelle says :

    Hey the smith machine is good for ONE thing- chin-ups! :)

  12. c4oordt says :

    THIS IS MEEEEE!!!! What a GREAT article! Thanks for giving me some fire under my arse to jump in and get more than just me feet wet! Awesome!

  13. Susan says :

    Thank you for sharing all this. We just joined a new gym, and just yesterday I kept walking past the weights feeling clueless, so I kept on walking.

  14. BrookeNotOnADiet says :

    Awesome info! I’ve dabbled with weights, but have never gotten serious about it. This will help!

  15. Ashley says :

    Criss, what if you cannot afford a membership at the gym? What can I do at home to get results? What kind of weights do I need?

    • Jessica Sarah says :

      I’d like to know this too, if you have any advice, as I’m a momma who has absolutely no time to haul off to a gym and going to the sports store to pick out any kind of hand weights or whatever, things I don’t know what they are, is a little overwhelming! I’ve only been doing cardio and have been interested in more strength training, especially with weights, but am just… lost. Wish they would have taught that in elementary instead of freaking archery…

      • John Woods (mohawkjohn on Fitocracy) says :

        Push-ups and pull-ups are great if you don’t have access to equipment. You can also do body-weight squats, and once those get too easy, one-legged body-weight squats. They’re very tricky to get right, but if you can crank out fifty, you’re stronger than most people.

        The other thing you might try is looking for your local YMCA or YWCA. The Y is pretty inexpensive, and the equipment is often better than at the big commercial gyms. Plus, people are really nice and helpful.

        Just make sure it’s a Y that has more than one rack, as it’s very discouraging having to wait in line to do your squats and deadlifts.

      • boo says :

        I just bought a barbell, some basic weight plates and 2 dumbells and you can make endless combinations. They’re sold at most sports stores. Also, a weight set is weirdly cheap because its really just manufactured steel hunks. Compared to a gym membership, it basically pays for itself in a few months.

  16. Pedro says :

    As a guy, all I can say is thank you for posting something like this. Misconceptions are all over in the fitness world, and it’s even worse when it comes to female fitness. I have girl friends who say they want to get fit and I try to help them out but they just dismiss everything as soon as they realize I’m not telling them to go on a slow jog for an hour. This kind of info needs to get spread and become common knowledge. :)

  17. J.T. says :

    Good stuff, Criss! This is an awesome encouragement for all ladies to get out there and train with barbells! :)

  18. Shannon says :

    Criss this is amazing!! I have never read such a well-written explanation of the benefits of weightlifting. Have you considered writing for a health magazine or something along those lines? You deserve to be getting paid for such clear, useful writing, and it would be great to see your work reaching as wide as possible of an audience as well–this is something that every woman needs to hear!

    I’ve always worked out and I lifted light weights on and off for years, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I started lifting HEAVY weights. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how or was afraid of getting bulky; it was that I literally did not realize that women were capable of lifting anything more than a 10 pound dumbbell. What inspired me was reading blogs in which 5’2,110 lb girls were benching, squatting, and deadlifting hundreds of pounds. I figured that if they could do it, I could too. Now I love weight-lifting, but the first step was realizing that it was even possible.

  19. Rhiannon says :

    Hi Criss, Interesting article, I quite enjoyed reading it
    I would like to know your opinion of classes like BodyPump, which use high reps of free weight exercises. Personally I have seen some utterly amazing results from pump but am always inerested to hear different opinions
    also what other exercises would you include in your weights regieme?

  20. Astrid grover says :

    So very true! Thank you for posting this. It really irritates me having to keep telling my girlfriends that lifting weights does not make them bulky.

  21. Marguerite Kenner says :

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU! These are EXACTLY the resources I need to figure out how to add lifting to my routine!

  22. Will says :

    So what is the key to weight loss? I’m still trying to figure this out. Is it the weight lifting or the fitness or eating that makes the fat/weight come off?Why is weight loss hard. Eating super healthy, working out all the time and dealing with muscle.I’m still having trouble shrinking my legs.YES, you can’t spot reduce, I’ve heard that a million times. But it seems like I have to starve sometimes just to see some progress.

  23. Tiffany Youngren says :

    Ha! Love this post. Lifting weights is so great for the body – and the mind. Great info in the comments as well!! Thanks!!

    Take care!

    ~ Tiffany

    Transfer of Health
    Healthy Living and Recipes

  24. Thiago says :

    Congratulations, you did a really nice job, I am happy that you are more healthy now ^^.

  25. Renata Vomero says :

    Hi, darling! It’s so good to see that I’m not alone, and everything is possible!!Congrats for all the good things you’ve done to your own health! Don’t care about what the others will say, you are great!!!!

  26. Jacqueline says :

    This was a great post! So true too. And fitocracy (@jplei) has definitely helped me progress in my weightlifting. I sometimes have to push my self to get off the couch and go to the gym, but I go with my husband and that helps a lot. I think squats have done more for my body than anything. They are great for burning calories.

  27. Harley says :

    Amazing read. ^_^ You make things much less scary and I can’t believe I was so utterly misinformed when it comes to exercise! Do you happen to have any Fitocracy invites left? It sounds like a fun way to keep track of things.

  28. boo says :

    Found your progress pic on http://www.popcrunch.com/27-fat-to-fabulous-weight-loss-transformations/?img=160296 and had to do reverse image lookup to see where this awesomeness came from! I can’t wait to start lifting weights! Thanks for putting in the effort to help others. <3

  29. sundayroasts says :

    Eat more, lift more. Seriously – this is the message I try to get across to so many women, but railing against the ‘diet and fitness’ industry is hard. Women are bombarded with nonsense, half-facts and misonceptions from every conceivable angle. I started lifting a couple of years ago and it’s incredibly rewarding. I can now deadlift over 250 pounds and very little beats feeling strong. It impacts every other part of my life. Bravo for a wonderful summary. Happy lifting!

  30. Fuhshaw says :

    It’s so hard convincing my friends that lifting weights won’t make you a bodybuilder! I took weight training my senior year in high school and I loved it, but whenever I try to get my friends to lift weights instead of going on the elliptical for 45 minutes, they just grimace and say they’re doing good with just cardio. I recently convinced one of my friends and she loves it too, but maybe I’ll direct those other friends to this post so they can see the truth. Thanks for writing this :D

  31. Millie says :

    Do you believe that a person starting a weightloss routine should begin a cardio regimen like you did at first? Or would they be better off starting with weights?

  32. Sian says :

    hey, what about kettle bells do you know anything about them? does it count as weight training?
    thanks for this :)

  33. Vita Brevis Luna says :

    Hey Chris, love your article i just wish and kindly ask if you could give us some tips for our cardio workout…i mean people always tell us fat girls that cardio is most import thing to do, so now that i have a high protein diet in the pocket and this new found attraction to weightlifting, wish i could hear your take on how should i complement that with cardio? hope you can give me some perspective her. By the way your “before“ pictures look very very cute, but your “after“ pic look amazingly hot! congrats for the hard work‘.

  34. Ocean says :

    GREAT stuff!!

    I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it, but your link to why one shouldn’t use a Smith machine is broken…and I’d like to know!

    Do you have other resources to which you might direct me? Thanks!

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