Don't Be Barbie, Be Wonder Woman: Why Strong is Sexy

July 27, 2015

Don't Be Barbie, Be Wonder Woman: Why Strong is Sexy

Women come in all forms. Some women are curvy, some skinny and some fit. If you ask me, being strong is the new skinny, if you consider that “skinny” has  been the most coveted female body type for a very long time. A strong looking physique is definitely the new sexy.

Toned and muscular women are dominating magazine covers and even celebrities seem to be showing off more of a toned or muscular appearance. I say women should embrace their strength, lift heavy weight, and take the pressure off of achieving an “oh-so-thin” physique. I am proud to say that I have so much muscle in my legs from cycling and squatting that I can deadlift over 200lbs! If I were concentrating on cutting calories to shed body fat, I most likely would not have the energy to move that amount of weight.

And I’d rather perform an impressive lift than look like a stick figure.

However, some men feel intimidated by this, although they shouldn’t. Alternatively, there are those who find it sexy as hell to see a woman with a little muscle. Think about it, what’s more attractive, a woman who looks like a twig or one who looks like Wonder Woman?

To get a man’s perspective on the "strong is sexy" movement, I asked personal trainers and MMA conditioning specialists Joel Diaz and Gerre Bettis their opinions the subject. “I prefer a woman that looks good naked to one who only looks good in clothes,” says Bettis. “To me, a woman that is fit, works out, and projects an overall healthy lifestyle trumps one that only focuses on being skinny.”

Joel Diaz also agrees with this since he believes that “having a strong body is a visual sign, telling others that you have a determined and willful mind. Those two qualities are fueled by confidence. And confidence is always sexy.”

Aside from just “looking good,” here are six important reasons why women should pick up the weights and make yourself stronger.

More muscle, more calories burned

Lifting weights will help you increase strength and develop lean muscle mass, which will allow your body to use calories more efficiently. If you have more lean muscle mass, you'll have more muscle contractions and thus burn more calories. In an article by Robert A. Robergs, Ph.D., and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., the authors explore the concept of how increased muscle mass burns more calories and highlight that, “certain exercises use more muscle, and therefore will increase oxygen consumption and burn more calories.”

Greater fat loss 

Most women consider weightlifting only a means to add size. However, when balanced out with cardiovascular exercise, mainly high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which burns more fat. In another article written by Chantal A. Vella, Ph.D.  and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., the explain the concept of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is the “exercise after-burn, or the calories expended (above resting values) after an exercise.” They also explore the effect of resistance training on EPOC. They reported that, “the effects of a high intensity (2 sets, 8 reps, 85% of 8RM) versus low intensity (2 sets, 15 reps, 45% 8RM) resistance training workout, keeping total work constant, on EPOC and found a significantly greater EPOC.”

Increased energy

Strength training causes an increase in energy production hours after a training session. A study found in the US National Library of Medicine published by National Institutes of Health suggests that the chronic increase in energy expenditure, even after a minimal resistance training session, may favorably affect energy balance and fat oxidation. Rather than reaching for that early afternoon cup of coffee, grab a barbell.

Better sleep

Strength training greatly improves sleep quality, allowing you to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake less often during the night. From my personal experiences, I notice my performance when training is much more powerful when I get 6-8 hours of sleep. With that said, since my training would be considered intense due to the fact I was able to put a massive amount of energy into it, I find that later on I am more exhausted and sleep better.

Healthier heart

Lifting weights can actually reduce your risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, strength training is a healthy form of exercise for those at risk. Those who lift weights are at a reduced risk of having a large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels.

Bone health

As you age, there is a greater chance of losing both bone and muscle mass. Postmenopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis since the body no longer produces estrogen. This is where strength training comes in. Resistance training is an excellent way to combat loss of bone mass and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

In the end, strength trumps skinny. I have never heard anyone ever say “I hate being strong.” Kelly Clarkson was right, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and in the end your body and mind will thank you. I know mine did, and I have never felt sexier. So go on, get strong and sexy!

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