the "heavy weights will make you bulky" myth


I think that even some of the well read female fitness enthusiasts still feel worried about picking up heavy weights for fear of "bulking up". I see it every day at Hilliard Studio Method when I watch women select what weight they will work with that day, look at the heavy ones and pick up something lighter-  and I spent years doing it myself! There is now a ton of science to back up the case for heavy weights (examples: this NY Times article, or this Womens Heath article,  just to name a couple!), but somehow the age old myth of more reps/ lighter weight keeps winning out. Why?

I have an idea about it, but science articles aside, here is my personal story:

I was a runner. I ran and ran and ran. I also went to the gym. I did circuits. I did the Nike training app (which I still love). I felt strong. But I did not ever ever ever pick up heavy weights. I got complacent with what I was lifting and that was that. I was more interested in getting rid of that last little bit of stubborn tummy that would never go away with more cardio and more reps and longer workouts, and spin classes.

It all changed when I was training for a marathon and dancing in a performance group at the same time - all of the cross training I WAS doing got pushed to the side for time's sake. The little nagging 'pain in the butt' I had been feeling, that at first I thought was piriformus syndrome, was really the beginnings of a hamstring strain that (after failure to properly address) and then a big performance (with a big lift) would become a hamstring tear.

In between the strain and the tear I went to different physical therapists who gave me different workouts to strength train. (no weights) I was told by all of them that the injury was because I had a weak core and weak glutes... Wait, what?? Weak? Me? No. I run. I run a LOT. I am strong and I go to the gym and I go to spin class and I WORK! Well, the problem was I wasn't strong ENOUGH and I wasn't balanced in my body. My hamstrings were doing the work for my glutes and my core just wasn't helping anything at all.

After a PRP injection and several sessions of dry needling, I felt good enough to get back to my workouts. Running was not an option, but I needed to do something to not go bonkers, so I started at Hilliard Studio Method. They claim to be a core centric, transformative workout that incorporates weights, resistance bands, weighted balls and gliders with floor and barre work to sculpt and tone your entire body in 60 minutes. YES! I was so sore the next day I could barely roll over in bed. So, naturally, I was hooked. I had to modify most of everything since my hammy still wasn't up to par, but within a few months I was on track, with the BEST body I've ever had. (Did I mention I was not doing hardly any cardio? I still wasn't back to running!) How could that be? I wasn't clocking those miles and miles with Runkeeper and my sport watch to assure me that the calories were burning!

This is how: cardio to weight training is like burning calories for the duration of the workout to burning calories all day long because your muscles are burning them off for you! And you don't get those muscles without the weights.

Trainer Tank Selfie :)  - Lauren Bolshakov - three Trainer Tank Selfie :)  - Lauren Bolshakov - three

I completely believe in balance now. I am back to my couple or few runs a week, I take and teach at HSM, take at HSM Core, and also take a yoga class a week. I think your body needs to change things up and be challenged- INCLUDING with those heavy weights. I lift them 5-6 times a week and I am not bulky at all. I'm more lean, more toned, and have less body fat than ever before. That last little bit of belly fat? Gone. If the articles didn't convince me, the change in my body's shape sure did! Bonus: The hamstring tear that was supposed to cripple my running has done no such thing - I'm stronger than ever and am on track to beat my pre-injury PR. (Sidenote: I loved my Hilliard Studio Method workouts so much I became a trainer there!)