Strength Training for Woman – Setting The Tone

By: ARIANA HERNANDEZ

Edited by: CHRISTINA COLAVECCHIA

Although most of us know that running is the best way to keep our weight down, what about the rest of our body? Being slim is nice, but being toned shows that you put work into your body and are smart about being physically fit.

Strength training, once a practice used only for competitive athletes and bodybuilders, has become more popular over time. Due to the immense amount of research showing its benefits, it is now realized to be an essential part of any fitness regimen. Strength training has always been difficult for many women because they often get caught in the middle of getting toned and not making any progress at all. Many women will put off strength training for fear that fat will turn into muscle, even though most women cannot build large muscles because they are genetically incapable of doing so. This is why it is best to be educated on how to properly build muscle mass for your body type and preference.

Certified fitness instructor and personal trainer Kathleen Ekdahl says, “Body structure and body composition, or the amount of body fat vs. lean tissue, plays an important role in how you respond to weight training.” Muscular body types, or mesomorphs, respond quickly to weight training and are most likely to build muscle size. Ectomorphs, (thin, frail body type) are generally unable to add muscle mass. Most women tend to be endomorphs (pear shaped), and have a difficult time creating tone in their lower bodies, where they store most of their body fat. Because each body type responds differently to exercise, Kathleen recommends seeking professional advice on how to create a weight training program that best suits your body type, goals, lifestyle and overall fitness level.

Although there are many weight lifting programs (that may cost money), there are a few things you can do on your own to get you started. Here are some tips from US News and Health that I have made some additions to. I have been strength training for most of my life due to various amounts of sports and exercise, and have found all of these to be true and helpful.

Lift three times a week: Two times will offer some benefits, and one time is better than nothing, but it isn’t going to make much of a difference and it wont improve your body the way you want it to. Making sure your body has time to recover in between workouts is necessary when trying to gain muscle mass. Government recommendations for heart health include 30 minutes of the equivalent of brisk walking most days. Adding a few days of that to your workout routine, and maybe alternating workout days with your upper body and lower body may help.

You need to lift enough weight and increase weight over time: In order to avoid large amounts of muscle gain, women are told to lift very light, whereas men will lift very heavy. Often times, women perform many repetitions with 3 or 5 pound weights, not knowing that without sufficient weight, the muscle will not change. In order to make progress you will need to increase the weight a smidgen every time you do your routine, Alwyn Cosgrove, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting For Women, suggests “10 reps in a set the first time, then 11, then 12, and once you’re doing sets of 12, increase the weight and go back to 10 reps per set.”

Use a form that works best for YOU: Everyone’s body is different and will build muscle a little differently. Getting caught up with the so-called ‘rules’ of an exercise, like “Don’t lock your elbows!” will scare you off before you even start. If your technique is correct, and isn’t causing you any pain during or after a workout, you’re probably doing just fine. It is also important to realize when your body has had enough. Forcing your body to get to the number 12 during your reps when you are clearly in pain is never a good thing, so know the difference between disciplining yourself and pushing yourself too far.

You aren’t going to get huge so stop worrying. Because women have lower levels of testosterone, getting huge is not going to happen unless you are genetically wired that way. There is no need to be worried; strength training will only improve your body, helping you to live a more fit and healthy lifestyle.

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2 Comments on “Strength Training for Woman – Setting The Tone”

  1. January 19, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Thanks for giving these types of great post.

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