“Nice guns lady!”
Living in LA where we enjoy hot weather most of the year I get comments like this quite frequently, and always from men.
Truth be told there was time I wasn’t so sure I liked the attention on my biceps. I felt a little embarrassed and longed for more slender arms. I felt a little too manly and I did not like that one bit.
Those days are long gone though and that type of comment now makes me smile. I am proud of my strength and love the beautiful definition I enjoy as a result of my workout regimen. I’m an aerialist and a strong core and upper body comes with the territory, and I would not have it any other way.
The fear of bulking up, however, is the most common reason women shy away from strength training and favor aerobic workouts instead. But the reality is that strength training does not necessarily mean bulging, man-like muscles. It takes a LOT of heavy duty weight lifting for the average woman to bulk up and unless you are training to be a body builder you most likely won’t experience a significant change in the size of your muscles. What you will experience is a significant difference in your strength and a boost in the effectiveness of the rest of your workouts, as well as a big different in your overall appearance.
I find strong to be sexy. I love beautiful, lean, defined muscles!
I recommend strength training to all my clients and here are my top 5 reasons:
Focus on the Right Goals
Too many women focus on one thing primarily with their workouts — calories burned!
Strength training shifts your focus to healthier more manageable goals. Stop and think about what you really want for a minute. Do you only want to lose weight or feel awesome in a certain pair of jeans? Or do you want to feel strong and powerful?
I know I love feeling like I can conquer anything! I feel amazing when I can lift my 9 year old into a giant bear hug or wrestle with my hubby without being overpowered 😉
Chances are you want to get stronger while you get leaner and gain gorgeous definition in your abs, arms and legs.
Am I right?
Then you need to add strength training to your workouts and challenge yourself!
As you build strength you will lose inches and enjoy beautiful, toned, and sculpted muscles.
With strength training you can set very specific goals and establish a clear plan to achieve them. Your focus shifts from a negative one — I hate my body, I need to lose 20 pounds — to a positive and empowering one– I can crank out ten push ups without breaking a sweat!
Strength training is an awesome way to set motivating, empowering goals that will keep you committed to your workouts week after week.
Focus on positive, performance oriented goals and enjoy the journey as well as the rewards!
Build the Body You Want!
Walk into a gym and you’ll likely find dozens of women sweating away as they run countless miles on a treadmill, climb endless stairs on the stairclimber or dance their little heart out in one Zumba class after another. Now don’t get me wrong I love Zumba. In fact I teach Zumba 😉 But I see it as more of a fun compliment to a strength training regimen than the cornerstone of my workout.
While some cardio is beneficial, doing cardio exclusively will only lead to frustration and delay the gratification of reaching your fitness goals. Why? Cardio only burns calories during your workout and unless you are fully focussed on your training (instead of being distracted by the television or the cute guy doing crunches nearby) that calorie burn is nowhere near what you need it to be to reach your weight loss or fitness goal.
Strength training on the other hand increases your calorie burn far beyond the time you’ve spend at the gym. During a strength training session you inflict lots of micro tears on your muscles. As your cell regenerate and repair these tears you grow stronger. The repair process takes time and uses a lot of fuel, so you keep burning calories long after your workout.
Strength training also allows you to target specific muscle groups and truly sculpt the body you want.
Prevent Devastating Diseases
This may not be the sexiest reason but it really should be the most important one.
Studies have clearly shown that load bearing exercises play a key role in preventing debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “About nine million Americans have osteoporosis and an estimated 48 million have low bone density. This means that nearly 60 percent of adults age 50 and older are at risk…one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.” Yes, women are far more likely to develop these diseases than men, so women need to engage in weight bearing activities on a regular basis.
I’ve seen several of my friends suffer from osteoporosis — one of my daughter’s caregivers has such a severe case she’s got a pronounced hunch back. It interferes with her ability to accomplish daily tasks in a number of ways, and causes a lot of pain. She’s a stoic lady who hides it well but I can see it in her face and it really pains me.
She’s inspired me to stay strong and do what I can to prevent succumbing to this disease. Using your own body weight in weight bearing activities or pumping iron to strengthen your bones is the most effective way to keep these diseases at bay.
On a side note, in 1980 NASA scientist looking for ways to counteract bone loss due to space flight, discovered that jumping on a trampoline was far more effective than running to build up bone density. This discovery lead to several medical studies and the conclusion that jumping on a trampoline for 15 minutes a day is one of the most powerful ways to keep you skeleton strong.
Kiss Stress Goodbye!
There is something truly magical that happens when you strength train — you focus exclusively on the task at hand and everything else melts away.
It is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world and you walk away from a workout recharged and ready to tackle whatever life throws your way. When you’ve pushed yourself physically and can make it through an intense weight training workout, little stresses become insignificant.
Discover the Rock Star You Really Are!
Too many women shy away from strength training because they don’t believe they can do it, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly most of us grossly underestimate our mental and physical strength. So let me dispel this myth for you once and for all — You CAN and SHOULD strength train! Now I am certainly not suggesting it is going to be easy. Like anything else you need to build up slowly. You also want to make sure you use proper form. but with hard work and dedication you will surprise yourself quickly!
Strength training is EMPOWERING in more ways than one. Knowing you can bench press twice your body weight or flawlessly crank out a dozen push ups is exhilarating! This confidence carries over into every aspect of your life. You will walk a little taller with a spring in your step and a confidence that will inspire everyone around you. And best of all, you will be teaching your kids that nothing is impossible!
As you can see I am a huge advocate of strength training and encourage you to make strength training a key component of your fitness regimen whether you choose body weight training, traditional weight lifting or a combination of both. If you are new to strength training make sure to get clearance from your physician and invest in a couple of sessions with a personal trainer to learn proper form so you don’t risk getting injured.
Are you ready to add strength training to your workouts? If you already strength train what is your favorite strength workout?