Just before each monthly session, I send an email out to my fitness participants and tell them to bring either 3 or 5 pound weights. I suggest the three pounds for complete exercise beginners but definitely always recommend the 5 pound weights or higher. The reply I most often receive back from some of my participants is that they don’t want to bulk up or have manly muscles.
It is almost virtually impossible for women to “bulk” up like a man. We have a different genetic make up and our hormone map will not allow us to “get big” or “bulk up”.
Weight lifting and strength training for women is not only important for aesthetic reasons but also important, as we get older. Let me take a second to explain.
Building muscle will help you to lose fat during a workout by burning calories and your body will need to work harder afterward to recover so it will keep your metabolism running for up to 48 hours after.
Also, for every pound of lean muscle you have, your body will burn roughly an extra 50 calories daily, even if you are sitting on the couch watching the Bachelor J. That is because it takes more energy to keep your muscles happy.
Weight lifting and strength training is never boring and you can make up hundred of thousands of routines to keep your muscles and head happy. As you increase your ability, you can make your routines more challenging by combining big muscle moves with little muscle moves.
For example when starting out you may want to do simple squats without weights. As you increase your ability and your confidence, you may want to add weights and do a shoulder press combination squat to get your big muscles (hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus) working with your smaller muscles (shoulders, deltoids, triceps). This in turn will help you to blast more fat, and show off those long, lean, sexy muscles.
Why should you choose free weights when there are weight machines at the gym? Free weights challenge your body more. Ever notice how you can blindly go from machine to machine without thinking about what you are doing, you look around thinking about what machine you will conquer next? It is because the “machine” is doing most of the work for you. Guiding your arms and your legs, working one muscle group at a time. When working with free weights, you have to make sure your form is correct and concentrate on the muscle you are working. Because of the challenge, your mind will not have a chance to wonder off. You will be forced to think about what you are doing in the present moment, almost like meditation for your muscles.
Another great reason to start weight and strength training is to strengthen and protect your bones. Osteoporosis, which commonly hits women, can start rapidly deteriorating your bone mass starting at age 40! That’s right as young as 40, your bones start to age but there is GREAT news! You don’t have to be a statistic; you can change your own genetic make up.
Strength training exercises will help slow the loss of minerals in your bones, as will exercises that raise your heart rate while your bones and muscles work against the force of gravity, such as stair climbing. The responses to these types of exercises are chemicals that are released in your body that tell your bones to prepare themselves for more of the same type of exercise. This makes your bones stronger and denser. On the other side of the coin, if you are inactive, you can lose density and weaken your bones setting you up for fractures in your spine, hip and wrist. As well as protect your bones; weight lifting and strength exercises will also improve your balance, strengthen your muscles and reduce your chances of breaking bones in a fall.
So don’t be intimidated buy the iron! Let it empower you to be a stronger woman, inside and out.
**Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity**