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Monday, March 25, 2013

Women and Weights

Let me just start off this post with a little humor.... 

I love Dwight, I think he's actually closely related to my husband but he didn't really say this.  Although, it totally sounds like something he would say.  

Women and weights, lets talk about this... I spend a lot of time in the weight room.  I go to the gym in the morning.  I go in the evening. I go to multiple locations. I even go on the weekends and I see one HUGE similarity in all the weight rooms regardless of time, location or day of the week......
It's mostly occupied by men.  Where are the women?  I hope the answer is downstairs in the aerobics room taking BodyPump but I have a feeling that's not always the case.  

Because I think so highly of strength training I'd like to take a little minute to get on my soapbox to provide some information about strength training for women and hopefully clear up any myths out there too.  

It's important to know why women should include strength training into their exercise routine.  With two-three 30 minute lifting sessions a week you can... 
  1. Decrease body fat:  Not only does strength training rev up your metabolism right after a workout but by maintaining/increasing your lean muscle mass you create a long term increase in your metabolism helping you to decrease your body fat.    
  2. Get stronger & look more toned: When it comes to muscles if you don't use 'em, you lose 'em.  Muscle mass naturally decreases with age.  By including resistance training in your exercise routine you can maintain (or improve) your strength making workouts and everyday chores easier.  
  3. Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes: According to the CDC post menopausal women can lose as much as 1-2% of their bone mass each year.  Multiple studies have shown that lifting weights can not only prevent bone loss but may even aid in building new bone.  Other studies have also concluded that strength training can help improve glucose control in diabetics as well as determined that heart disease is lower when the body is leaner.  
  4. Boost body image: Studies like this one report that women who participated in strength training improved not only their strength but their body image as well.  
Now that you know why it's a great idea to include strength training into your routine let's address two of the most common concerns I hear ladies talk about...

Concern #1: "I don't want to get big and bulky." Trust me when I tell you this- lifting weights at a moderate intensity 2-3x a week does not result in big and bulky muscles.  You will NOT look like this: 
  This woman Alina Popa, was the 3rd place winner at the 2012 Arnold' Classic Woman's Bodybuilding competition.  It takes an extremely large amount of  hard work and dedication to look like this.  This didn't just happen by accident.  And while I think she looks amazing, I know it's not for everyone.  
What you can expect is to feel stronger, look more toned and feel less "jiggly".  Who doesn't want that? 

Concern #2: "I don't sweat when I lift weights so I don't feel like I got a good workout." This post from Mayo Clinic shows that one hour of resistance training actually burns the same amount of calories as low impact aerobics.  Check out this blog from The Angry Trainer to get this thoughts about sweating during a workout.  

If I'm reading between the lines here I think what some (if not a lot) a women are saying they don't find their strength training workouts very challenging.  If this is the case, I'm guessing the workout is not challenging due to the amount of weight chosen for any particular exercise.  So how do you know how much weight to choose?  Pick a weight that you can complete 8-12 repetitions with.  At the end of the set you should feel tired, though not entirely wiped.  If you find you can complete more then 8, you've picked a weight that is too heavy and you should consider reducing it.  If at then end of the first set you feel no fatigue in the muscle, try a heavier weight for set number 2. Challenge yourself!  

 So your turn to tell me your thoughts.  Do you include strength training in your routine?  If so what are you favorite lifts?  If not, why?  What are your questions about weight lifting? As always, please check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine (see disclaimer below).   

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE lifting weights! I try to include strength training in the majority of my workouts and squats are my favorite (although I hate them too)
    Have a great day!