When you think of lifting weights, you’re probably imagining yourself with massive muscles and six pack abs – the kind that stare at you from magazine covers while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. You shake your head and turn away. Those bulges are definitely not for you, and neither is that intimidating stack of masculine looking weights at the gym. Right? Wrong.
I’m here to tell you that you should lift weights but not the sweat-till-you-get-the-barbell-over-your-head kind of weights. I’m talking a new weight language—strength training for women involves resistance bands, yoga poses, squats, medicine balls, hand weights. The kind of weight bearing activities that strengthen your muscles in the ways you want.
The pluses for women who do regular strength training exercises go far beyond what you see in the mirror. True, you will tone your arms, define your legs and may sculpt your back. But strength training improves so much more than just how you look. It improves how you feel and can impact many areas of your life.
Here are just some of the benefits of weight training for women, and a guide on how to lift your way to better health.
STRENGTH TRAINING FOR WOMEN: Why and How to Lift Weights
WHY LIFT WEIGHTS?
1. Lifting Weights Improves More than Strength It improves memory, mood, sleep, balance and metabolism.
2. Lifting Weights Burns More Calories You can actually burn calories after your workout is done. The effort of lifting weights burns calories, then as your muscles repair themselves post-workout, that burn continues. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn in a rested state.
3. Lifting Weights Reduces More Risks This activity reduces so many risks to your health. Start lifting, and you will find you reduce stress, osteoporosis, arthritis, blood pressure, and injury.
HOW TO LIFT WEIGHTS
1. Get Started Always check with your doctor before starting any new weight lifting program. Next, get some gym shoes, comfortable workout pants, top and a sports bra. Finally, commit to some form of weight bearing activity a minimum of 2-3 times per week.
2. Lift at the Gym Talk to a fitness trainer and ask for a personally designed weight program that takes into account your body type and fitness level. Ask about exercises that work muscles without straining them – using resistance bands, holding difficult yoga poses, mastering squats, and working with medicine balls or light hand weights. Spend just 30 minutes at the gym on strength training and you will reap the benefits of a stronger core, stronger arms, legs and back. For the right body type, barbells and weight machines may complement your routine. Don’t rule them out and don’t let the big muscle guys intimidate you. Remember, they are looking at themselves in the mirror, not at you!
3. Lift at Home You don’t need a gym membership to begin weight bearing exercises. Invest in a yoga mat and a strength training DVD, a stretchy resistance band, a heavy ball and light hand weights. Incorporate an exercise that uses each muscle group: squats and lunges for legs, plank and push ups for chest and abs, biceps curls and shoulder raises with light weights for arms.
4. Find aq Weight Lifting Class Finding it hard to find the motivation to lift? Sign up for weekly boot camp, core strength or yoga classes at a community centre or fitness studio. All will incorporate resistance, light weights or body weight exercises that will strengthen and tone muscles.
FITNESS TIP: If you only have 30 minutes a few times a week, you will get more tone for your time if you focus on being fit, strong and consistent. Weight bearing and resistance training will give you results you can see, strength you can feel, and health benefits you’ll enjoy for years to come.
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