Health & Fitness

By Leslie Rice Hart

The benefits of resistance training – also known as weight training, weight lifting or strength training – outweigh the negative myths.

Many women are afraid to lift weights worrying that they will bulk up and get too muscular. That is just plain hogwash. The truth is that most women would have difficulty developing large muscles, even if they tried. We have less testosterone than men do and testosterone is the key hormone that accounts for muscular development and allows muscles to grow more readily.

First of all, ladies, a lot of men lift heavy weights trying desperately to get bulging muscles, but do not succeed. Unless dangerous substances, such as steroids, are injected or ingested, it is pretty difficult to get big muscles. So if men are not bulking up that easily, and they have much more of a chance than us females ever will, you should have little fear of sprouting muscles.

Keeping the resistance low to moderate and the repetitions (reps) high – 12-15 consecutive, repetitive movements – you can sculpt, define and create a lean muscularity that can be perfectly feminine. You will develop muscle definition, tone, and strength without the bulk. Carrying groceries, picking up the kids, doing daily routines that require lifting or pushing will become a lot easier. Also, you are less likely to be injured if your muscles are conditioned and stronger. Activities with family and friends are more enjoyable and painless when you are stronger and fit.

I have trained clients who golf, ski, run, or participate in some sort of sport. Resistance training has helped them improve immensely. Not only are they stronger at the sport, but also their recovery time has improved. Their muscles are not as tight or sore after the activity.

Losing body fat, and leaning up is a big plus of weight training. Muscle is dense and weighs more than fat. So for example, if you lose five pounds of fat, but gain three pounds of muscle the scale might not show a five-pound loss, but your body will show some significant change. People will really notice how lean you appear. Another plus in having lean muscle is increased metabolism which helps you naturally burn more calories.

Doctors recommend weight training for women because research has shown an increase in muscle helps with an increase in bone density. Women can derive some real benefits here since we are at a higher risk for Osteoporosis.

Weight training has been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which, when high, cause a greater risk of a heart attack or heart disease.

According to the Diabetes Prevention Program from the American Association of Diabetes just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight produced a 58% reduction in diabetes. Weight training is a good way to achieve that reduction of body fat and reduce the threat of diabetes.

Weight training makes us more than just look better – it makes us feel better. Endorphins, chemicals released inside our brain to fight stress and pain, are produced at higher levels with moderately vigorous and sustained exercising. With the release of endorphins, we feel upbeat and less stressed. If you want to feel better and have more confidence and energy, you want to incorporate weight training in your weekly routine.

Remember, there’s little need to worry about bulking up. Keep the weights low, the reps high, the body lean, and the endorphins flowing. An apple a day and a moderate weight training routine will make sure to keep the doctor away or at least give us a much better chance staying healthy and happy.

Originally published April 2005
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