Friday, 7 June 2013

Why women SHOULD lift weights.

Exercise and fitness is an extremely important part of life which is often overlooked. Keeping active through structured physical activity is essential, to keep the body lean, youthful and in good health.

There tends to be a grey area that is not fully understood by most in the matter of ‘what is the best type of exercise for women’. This is apparent in both frequency and type. This seems to be fueled by the lack of education and understanding in this area from the general public. This is also backed up by the huge amount of contradicting information being force-fed to us in the form of gimmick type advertising.
There is no ‘best type of training’ for women as it is dependent on the type of results desired to be achieved. However to maintain a fit and healthy body with good muscle tone and a good ratio of body fat, a good combination of exercise type must be performed.
The majority of women have little problem getting out and doing their quota of cardiovascular training, whether that be through running, cycling or walking. This is a good start, but by itself will not get the desired results. The big problem seems to be in the area of ‘resistance training’!
There seem to be many misconceptions concerning the topic of resistance training or weight lifting amongst women that need to be cleared up.
1. Resistance training is only for men.
2. Lifting weights will give me big masculine muscles.
3. There is no need to do resistance training as cardio is the best way to burn fat.
4. Lifting weights will make me put on weight.
5. There are no health benefits from resistance training.

These misconceptions are preventing some women from the health and body they desire.
Resistance training is as important for women as it is for men. Both men and women get the same benefits from this type of training and building lean muscle mass.
Resistance training puts stress on the muscles (in a good way) causing the muscle fibers to damage. These fibers then adapt by repairing stronger with more density. This causes the increase in strength and shape of the muscle.

Testosterone is the key component for gaining size and substantial growth of the muscle. Women have a much lower level of testosterone; therefore weights training cause the muscle to become denser with shape but little gain in size. Women that have this concern needn’t worry as it takes a huge amount of time training with muscle gaining type weights (8 – 10 reps) on top of a special diet to obtain huge muscles.

Weights’ training is a great way to drop body fat and one of the only ways to keep it off long term. Muscles use energy to function, energy to move and energy to just be there.
A solid resistance workout keeps consuming energy as the muscle repairs. That means that you can be burning fat for 24 – 48 hours after the workout. Muscles burn fat as butter on a griddle!!

The idea of ‘speeding up your metabolism’ is when you can encourage your body to use more energy at rest, (idle at higher revs). The only TRUE way to shift this rate in your body is to increase the amount of lean muscle mass on your body. For example; adding about 2.5kg of muscle will mean that your body will need consume roughly 200 kj more each day. By increasing the amount of lean mass, you will burn away those extra calories in your sleep, in the car, on the couch and keep them off long term.

Resistance training is also the main player when it comes to body shape and posture. Weights’ training is the key to maintain good shape of the body. A strong core and back will help dramatically to keep a good posture. The shape and curves of the body are made up primarily of muscle. These can be manipulated by increasing muscle and muscle tone. An example is adding tone to the legs to add definition or increasing the shoulder muscles (deltoids) to create more of a waist.

If your body is a ‘pear shape’, all the walking in world won’t change this. You will be left with a smaller pear. The only way to change the body shape is with resistance training.
Resistance or weights’ training becomes even more important part of women’s health after the age of fifty. Once the body hits fifty years the body's cells are not replaced as frequently and degeneration takes the main stage.

Without regular maintenance the muscle will start to degenerate (pertrophy). This decrease in lean muscle mass will cause several problems. Posture will become much less rigid which may lead to other problems such as less strength or back pain. Reduced muscle will leave the body much more susceptible to injury.

The most important reason women 50+ need to do resistance training is to help reduce or prevent osteoporosis. As women get older they begin to loose valuable bone density. This is why women start to shrink. Resistance training can have a huge positive impact against this.

Weights’ training puts your bones under stress. This causes the bones to respond by increasing their density. Increasing bone density will lessen the chance of injury and may increase quality of life in the later years.

In my opinion, resistance training such as Weights training and Pilates is a vital type of exercise that must be taken seriously and must not be over looked!
Women need in incorporate between 1 – 3 hours of resistance training into their weekly exercise regime along side cardiovascular exercise and general activity. It is a good idea to space resistance training days over the week or alternate between upper and lower body to allow muscles to recover properly.

Weights training can be a little daunting when first starting out. A good place to start is with ‘body weight exercises’. These are simple exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. The best part is that they can be performed anywhere with no equipment.

Maintaining good form and correct technique is extremely important with this type of training. Using the services of an exercise professional like a Personal Trainer is a really good idea. This is 100% necessary if you have health or musculoskeletal problems. This should ensure good results and will also teach you correct technique that is essential for safety of your body.

In conclusion, resistance training is a valuable type of exercise that should be utilized by all women of all ages and of all fitness levels.



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