Women and Weights

Walking into the gym you’re surrounded by a sea of equipment. Treadmills are vertically placed next to each other, the spinning class is filled with bikes standing in formation like soldiers ready for battle and the circuit machines are all sparkly and ready to be used.

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You start off with your 15 – 20 min jog do some lunges, sit-ups and push-ups. When it comes to the weights however you’re a little sceptic, starting off with a feathery 1kg (assuming your gym stocks them). We don’t want to walk out of the gym looking like Mr Schwarzenegger so we do six reps at the most and presto done! Put down that weight ladies and pick up the 3kg – maybe even more because we’re about to educate you on what’s really happening to your body!

First of all women choose not to do weight training, or otherwise known as resistance training,  because we associate it with bulky men pumping the iron from dusk till dawn. This association leads to ladies making a giant U-turn when walking past the weight training sections.

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Myth number one done and dusted: Women don’t produce enough testosterone for them to bulk up the way men do, so doing weights won’t let your muscles bulk up because it’s physically impossible.

Myth number two: Women think they have to eat more protein when they do resistance training. According to Michael Wood, director of the Sports Performance Group in Cambridge and Mass and an exercise physiologist, your liver and kidneys can only take so much protein. Because you over consume protein you neglect other food groups like carbs or healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, rice, cereal, and juice which help with muscle building. “Carbs are our bodies’ main source of fuel and should make up between 50 to 60 percent of your total caloric intake,” Wood says. “Without adequate amounts, you may have difficulty sustaining a workout.” Thus moderate amounts of protein no more no less.

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Myth number three: If you stop exercising your muscle will turn to fat! Fat and muscle are not  the same substances – I‘ve heard friends say countless times that they can’t stop going to the gym because they’re afraid that their muscles will dissolve away into fat. The one won’t, can’t and has never replaced the other just like milk can’t suddenly turn into orange juice. Wood says “When you stop using your muscles, your body becomes significantly less efficient at burning calories, which allows the pounds, in the form of fat, to creep back on.” Less muscle will make more room for fat and vice versa.

There are a few more facts and myths up for discussion but these three are the ones women usually get wrong. So why do resistance training in the first place?

Helps you lose body fat

Again the muscle doesn’t replace it but the workout will burn the fat away. Wayne Westcott, PhD, from the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly 1 kg of muscle and will lose about 3kg of fat. Generally speaking, for each 500 grams of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That can really add up and workout perfectly for a tone beach body.

You’ll tone nicely and gain strength without the size.

As we discussed women don’t bulk up the way men do. So instead of bulking we get nice and strong for those times when there’s not a man in the house to open a pickle jar! Instead you can also expect tone and definition; this is such a bonus and looks way better than a saggy lifeless body.

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Training reduces your risk of Osteoporosis.

It increases your spinal bone’s minerals and density, in other words it makes your bones more flexible (in a way) or enhances the modelling of the bone structure. Experts have gone so far to say that it’s the best defense mechanisms for women to fight Osteoporosis – that and an adequate amount of calcium of course.

You Will Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain and Arthritis.

When you build stronger muscles, which weight training does, you’ll put less strain on your bone structure – makes sense doesn’t it? Your muscles do most of the work leaving your bone structure to just keep you up right! Resistance training also builds stronger connective tissues keeping everything together and in place so to speak.

 Weight training reduces your risk of Diabetes.

Weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes. So much so it’s been prove by research that weight training can increase glucose levels by 23 precent in over three months.

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 Weight training can help you fight depression

Compared to standard counseling Harvard found that strength training was more successful when it came to clinically depressed patients. Proving that pumping iron and letting out some frustration can actually improve your mood!

Stop making those giant turns around the heavy stuff. It’s good for you, you know? Keep your body in shape and healthy with good solid resistance programs and use those weights to your advantage. Put away the 1kg and you’ll be surprised at how quick you’ll open a pickle jar without going all red in the face.

Joe Franco is personal trainer and own two fitness businesses. Through his education, B.S. in Exercise Science and certification through A.C.E. he has dedicated his life to fitness.

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