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Weight Lifting for Women: Getting Rid of the Myths

Most females who come to me are interested in learning about weight training. For women, the stigma against lifting weights has long since died out. But despite the ever-increasing popularity of dumbbell-oriented programs geared towards weight training for women specifically, I still hear concerns and objections from female clientele that are fueled by misconceptions. I wanted to dispel a few of them:

1. “Lifting weights will make me look bulky.”

First, women produce very small amounts of testosterone as compared to men. Testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone responsible for muscle growth, and the relatively small amounts produced by women makes it much more difficult to build substantial amounts of lean muscle. The well-muscled females you see at the gym have spent considerable amounts of time training to achieve that look. The casual trainee will not end up looking like that.

Second, standards of feminine beauty are evolving. “STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY” is the catchphrase now plastered on posters and T-shirts—and that’s good thing. Fit, lean, moderately muscled physiques are now preferable, not to mention healthy.

2. “Shouldn’t I be focusing on cardio if I want to lose weight?”

Women with lean, toned physiques will more likely be encountered in the weight room than on a treadmill. While moderate intensity cardio burns calories and improves fitness levels, it does little to change your body composition, and can slow down your metabolism if overdone. Also, prolonged bouts of moderate intensity cardio cause muscle tissue breakdown, which further slows down your metabolism. Conversely, high-intensity strength training ramps up your metabolic rate for up to 36 hours after the workout, causing you to continue burning calories after leaving the gym. Plus, the more muscle you have, the more metabolically active you are. Adding muscle increases the amount of calories your body uses up throughout the day, even at rest.

3. “But isn’t lifting weights bad for your joints?”

Quite the opposite. Strengthening the muscles supporting your joints is one of the best things you can do to promote joint stability and prevent injury. When properly done, many joint problems can actually be ameliorated with targeted weight training under the guidance of a professional such as a personal trainer or physical therapist.

4. “I’m afraid I might break something.”

When done properly, weight training actually makes you less susceptible to broken bones due to its ability to encourage new bone development in those under 30 and preserve existing bone density in those over 30. Weight training is especially important in small-framed individuals and those with osteopenia or osteoporosis, who are also at increased risk for fractures. Also, many women are deficient in Vitamin D, which is essential for good bone health. However, Vitamin D alone without the inclusion of weight-bearing exercises is of little benefit. Weight training is essential to create the stimulus for bone preservation.

The Benefits of Personal Fitness Training from Body By V

When entering the gym for the first time, it can be daunting. There are plenty of foreign contraptions laid out across the floor that you have no idea how to use. You’re not alone; this is something most new members experience at first. While some may try to figure out the achiness on their own, this would not be recommended. Using the machines with a lack of proper knowledge can lead to detrimental injuries. Instead, it would be wise to hire a personal fitness trainer. This is someone who has trained and studied exercise to have expert knowledge to help you. Along with that, there are several other benefits to hiring a personal trainer.

Training with barbell

  1. Motivation

One problem that a lot of people have when they start going to the gym is keeping up with the task. Most people will start hard, but with busy lives, slowly dwindle down to a few days a month. With a personal trainer, they can help to keep you motivated in your goals so that you will continue with the program and journey to getting fit. It is their job to hold you accountable for showing up each week. Hiring a personal trainer will keep you on track with your goals.

  1. Tailored Fitness Plan

Personal trainers are experts in the field of health and fitness. They don’t just have experience with exercising. They also know exactly what exercises you need to do and what kind of diet you need to follow to see progress for your specific goals. They determine this by your body measurements, and the type of goals you want to see. Some may want to lose weight, while others are more focused on gaining muscle mass. They type of exercises and diets you must follow differ greatly depending on the goals, and personal trainers are experts in designed a tailored plan for you.

Sport. Young athletic man doing push-ups.

  1. Proper techniques and form for exercises

Not only are they experts in what exercises to do, but they are skilled in knowing the best and right way to do these exercises. Whether there is a specific machine you need to use, or a body weight exercise, a personal trainer can instruct you in how to properly perform the techniques and exercises. This is essential because doing it the wrong way can lead to serious injuries, which will put off your fit goals. There is also typically a specific way the exercise needs to be done for it to benefit the muscles and body.

Hiring a personal fitness trainer is the safest way to go when you are beginning the transformation to a fit lifestyle. Doing so can ensure you will get the most out of your gym time by doing the right exercises for your goal, and it can prevent you from becoming injured because they will teach you the proper methods for the machines and exercises. Don’t let your lack of motivation keep you from becoming the best self you can be.

Why HIIT Training For Fitness

Why HIIT?

Anybody who’s trained with me knows that I LOVE high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. It prevents boredom, provides a challenge, and works well with many different types of exercises. Plus it’s super-efficient. While I still do traditional endurance training and bodybuidling routines, most of my workouts are in a HIIT format, and there are good reasons why. In this article, I delve into the evidence supporting HIIT training and how it compares to traditional routines.

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a style of training that consists of short periods of maximum or near-maximum effort followed by brief recovery periods. The exercise intervals vary, but are typically 10 to 30 seconds and are followed by short recovery periods consisting of a lower-intensity exercise or resting. An example would be as follows:

Push-ups: 30 seconds

Rest: 10 seconds

Squats: 30 seconds

Rest: 10 seconds

Crunches: 30 seconds

Rest: 10 seconds

Repeat twice more

Benefits of HIIT

Results in greater improvements in VO2 max (an indicator of exercise capacity) than traditional endurance training (Milanovic). This means that over time you are able to work harder and potentially burn more calories during your workout.
Creates the same improvements in skeletal muscle oxidative capacity as traditional endurance training in less time (Gibala). Even with its shorter workouts, HIIT training still induces metabolic changes in your muscle that result in increased endurance and improved exercise performance.
Reduces insulin resistance and improves glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes (Little, Jelleyman). HIIT training causes metabolically active tissues to become more responsive to insulin, which in turn causes cells to take up glucose which is used for energy.
Increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise (Talanian, Perry). In other words, your muscles become more effective at using fat for fuel during exercise.
Improves vascular function to a greater extent than medium-intensity continuous training (Ramos). Vascular dysfunction is associated with adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Has a greater effect on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) than low- to moderate-intensity exercise. After exercise, the body will continue to take up extra oxygen for a period of time, expending more energy in the process, known as EPOC. The magnitude and duration of EPOC is affected by the intensity of exercise (Bersheim, LaForgia).

Almost any type of exercise can be incorporated into a HIIT routine. HIIT is ideal for people who want to work a lot of different muscle groups in a very short period of time. Plus, it’s fun! So consider replacing some of those stale, monotonous treadmill and elliptical workouts with HIIT. You’ll be glad you did.

Sources:

Bersheim, E. and Bahr, R. (2003). Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Medicine, 33, 14, 1037-1060
Gibala, M.J., J.P. Little, M. van Essen, G.P. Wilkin, K.A. Burgomaster, A. Safdar, S. Raha, and M.A. Tarnopolsky. Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. J. Physiol. 575(Pt 3):901-911, 2006

High-intensity interval training. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training
Jelleyman C, Yates T, O’Donovan G, Gray LJ, King JA, Khunti K, Davies MJ (November 2015). “The effects of high-intensity interval training on glucose regulation and insulin resistance: a meta-analysis”. Obes Rev (Meta-Analysis) 16 (11): 942–61. doi:10.1111/obr.12317.PMID 26481101.

LaForgia, J., Withers, R. and Gore, C. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sport Sciences, 24, 12, 1247-1264.
Little JP, Gillen JB, Percival ME, Safdar A, Tarnopolsky MA, Punthakee Z, Jung ME, Gibala MJ. Low-volume high-intensity interval training reduces hyperglycemia and increases muscle mitochondrial capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol 111: 1554 –1560, 2011. First published August 25, 2011; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00921.2011.

Milanović Z, Sporiš G, Weston M (October 2015). “Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials”. Sports Med (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) 45 (10): 1469–81. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0365-0. PMID 26243014.
Perry CG, Heigenhauser GJ, Bonen A, Spriet LL. High-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008 Dec;33(6):1112-23. doi: 10.1139/H08-097.

Ramos JS, Dalleck LC, Tjonna AE, Beetham KS, Coombes JS (May 2015). “The impact of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on vascular function: a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Sports Med (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) 45 (5): 679–92. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0321-z. PMID 25771785.
Talanian JL, Galloway SD, Heigenhauser GJ, Bonen A, Spriet LL. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. J Appl Physiol 102: 1439 –1447, 2007. First published December 14, 2006; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01098.2006

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