Nine reasons why women should do weight training

Lyen_Wong

Lyen Wong

Strength training is an important part of improving your overall fitness, and for women, it can mean much more. In addition to numerous health benefits, adding weights to your routine can become a form of personal development that builds strength in all areas of life.

1. Boost your metabolism naturally

By adding muscle through strength training (even just a little bit), your resting metabolic rate (i.e., the amount of calories you burn daily by just existing) also increases. Athletes are calorie-burning machines even when they are not exercising.

2. Protect your knees

Women have a wider pelvis than men, which creates a larger angle at which the femur meets the tibia, also known as the “Q-angle.” This larger angle leads to an amplified chance for ACL injuries— up to 10 times greater than men. Building hip strength through movements such as squats and lunges has been shown to decrease this risk.

3. Gain more independence

Isn’t it nice to be able to put your luggage in the overhead compartment without the help of the man sitting behind you? Let’s smash the stereotype of men being the only ones who are able to help move furniture and get heavy jobs done!

4. Maintain bone density

Due to dropping levels of estrogen, postmenopausal women are prone to osteoporosis. Numerous studies show a positive relationship between resistance training and bone density. When bone feels the “pull” from the muscles, bone growth is stimulated. Not only can strength training offset bone loss, it can actually cause an increase in bone density in women who regularly lift weights.

5. Elevate mood

Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, yet two-thirds of these women do not do anything to combat these feelings. The release of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin during resistance training chemically helps exercisers acheive a feeling of well-being. Weight training also leads to an increase in energy, better sleep patterns, and a feeling of accomplishment and control.

6. Improve posture

Combat a kyphotic (hunched over) posture by strengthening the backside of the body. Proper posture leads to injury prevention and better power transfer in athletics. Plus, you just look better when you stand up straight.

7. Shape without the bulk

Due to their lower levels of testosterone, it is very difficult for women to develop large, bulky muscles. Instead of the bulk, most women tend to build a nice hourglass figure—curves we can be proud of!

8. Move better for longer

By strengthening muscles and improving bone density, women who spend time in the weight room are typically active for longer periods of time. Increased hip and leg strength aid in mobility and balance, and upper-body strength helps combat postural issues that can lead to back and shoulder injuries.

9. Become a better athlete

Gone are the days when coaches worried that lifting weights would build bulky muscles that would weigh down athletes. Strength training can lead to better functional movement, explosive power, durability and, of course, greater overall strength.

In conclusion

As often as we talk about all of these benefits,  still 9 out of 10 women do training because they want a better butt. What is the best way to achieve a better butt? Squats. Lunges. Strength training. Period.

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What to look for in a Personal Trainer

PPP-logoOnce you’ve decided to hire a personal trainer, how do you know you’ve found a good one? Great question.

Once you find a good hair stylist, you’re set, but if you get a bad one…ugh. It’s a little bit like that with a trainer. The best way to find a good one is to ask around—word of mouth is a great way to find someone great. However, you should also talk to a few trainers and ask some questions of your own. You may not know anyone who has hired a trainer so word of mouth may not be a viable option.

Here’s how you find a good one.

1) How many questions does the trainer ask that have nothing to do with fitness directly?

A good trainer will want to know about much more than your fitness goals. If you talk to one and they ask you about your attitudes and opinions about exercise, your work schedule, family commitments, your history of stopping and starting exercise, etc., you’ve probably found a great trainer. Why?

Great trainers realize that the workout program they create is the easy part. Any trainer can make a half-way decent workout program for most people. The real measure of fitness success is in your ability to adopt behaviors that become part of you. To make changes that last, a trainer must know the obstacles and opportunities for exercise in your schedule and all of the many non-workout factors that will determine your ability to absorb a fitness routine into your daily life.

2) Does the trainer teach you movement or just exercises?

This one might not be so obvious from your first conversation, but you can either ask directly or listen for how the trainer describes what they do. As my friend and fellow ACE consultant Chris McGrath says, “Exercise is optional; movement is essential.” Everyone moves, even if they don’t exercise. Thus, a good life starts with a foundation of quality movement when you’re doing chores, playing with your kids, walking the dog, putting away groceries and all the various tasks of daily life.

Perhaps more importantly, though, quality movement allows for exercise at an appropriate intensity that will stress your muscles (which is what you want) and not your joints. With the increased popularity of high-intensity training, trainers who don’t want to become good at teaching movement need to look for a different line of work.

How can you tell if a trainer focuses on movement quality? Here’s a big clue: When they describe what they do, they explain that they will first determine what your body is capable of given any current or previous injuries or limitations you may have. Regardless off how they describe it, the trainer you hire should care about how you move your body—both during and outside of the exercise session. Alternatively, you can ask them directly. For example, you could ask, “How will you address any specific joint issues I may have?”

3) Do you get a good workout at the first session?

I hope not. A terrible trainer puts people through hard workouts at the first session. A great trainer needs to get to know the people behind the programs they create—that’s what makes the training personal. Until I see you move and can gauge your response—both physically and mentally—to certain movements, it is impossible for me to create an effective program that will get you the results you want.

During the first session, a quality trainer might teach you movement skills or exercise technique, or address specific issues you may have, but they cannot possibly have a full workout ready to go until they spend some time with you in person. Hard workouts are easy to find and trainers that can deliver hard workouts are a dime a dozen. Any trainer who boasts of making clients sore for days is to be unequivocally avoided—they don’t know exercise, they only know intensity.

Wrap-up

Ask around, or ask the trainer you are considering these questions. Better yet, why not do both? A trainer-client relationship is a very personal one and you want to know that you are wisely investing your body, your time and your money into working with a competent, caring professional, one who helps you find the right starting point to fitness and helps you progress at the right pace to keep you engaged mentally and appropriately challenged physically.

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Four myths about women and weight training

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Lyen Wong

Strength training is an important part of improving your overall fitness, and for women, it can mean much more. In addition to numerous health benefits, adding weights to your routine can become a form of personal development that builds strength in all areas of life. It seems as if there’s a lot of information about exercise for women that is based on unfounded myths and even some outright lies instead of fact or scientific evidence.

Myth 1: Women should not lift any weight heavier than 3 pounds.

This myth has resulted in many women avoiding resistance training due to an irrational fear of becoming overly muscular. The reality is that women have the ability to lift a tremendous amount of weight, but do not increase lean muscle mass at the same rate as men.

Due to the physiology of the female body, compared to men women produce much less testosterone. That means that adding two days of resistance training to a weekly exercise regimen can increase lean muscle mass, but it won’t add pounds of “bulky” muscle. Strength training can cause women to produce more somatotropin (otherwise known as human growth hormone), but when you consider that growth hormone helps metabolize fat and is considered an important part of reducing the effects of the biological aging process, this is not a bad thing.

Myth 2: Women should avoid using weights because it will make them big and bulky.

In more than 15 years of working in the fitness industry, I have heard this repeated many, many times as the primary reason why women are not interested in exercising with heavy weights. There are numerous media images of female bodybuilders or actresses with highly muscular physiques. It should be noted that it can take years of training, proper nutrition and “supplementation” to achieve the muscle-bound appearance of a Xena: Warrior Princess.

It can take lifting weights five or six days a week, plus a lot of eating, for women to increase their levels of lean muscle. Simply adding an extra day of strength training or grabbing the heavier dumbbells will not automatically cause a woman to become a muscle-bound she-hulk.

Myth 3: Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn fat.

During low-intensity physical activity, fat is the primary macronutrient utilized to fuel muscle activity, so the idea of exercising in the “fat-burning” zone is based on science. But keep in mind that you’re in the so-called fat-burning zone right now while you’re reading this. Traditional aerobic exercise like running, cycling or using common health club machines can be effective for expending energy and the body will metabolize more fat for energy at lower intensities. However, exercising at a higher intensity or performing short, high-intensity work intervals can lead to a greater total amount of calories being expended during a workout.

The body burns 5 calories of energy for every liter of oxygen consumed. During most traditional aerobic training, the legs are the primary muscles being engaged. Performing a full-body, strength-training circuit with exercises for both the upper and lower body can involve a tremendous amount of muscle tissue, which results in more calories being burned during a workout. When more total calories are burned from strength training, a greater amount of calories are metabolized from fat when compared to only exercising in the “fat burning” zone. Aerobic training can be an efficient way to burn calories, but it often doesn’t provide enough stimulus to increase levels of lean muscle, which are metabolically more efficient because they burn calories even when the body is at rest. In addition, circuit training with heavy resistance can increase the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means your metabolism stays elevated for a period of time after exercise and you continue to burn calories hours after the end of your workout.

Myth 4: A combination of light weights and high repetitions is the best way to tone up.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Light weights can be useful for improving the strength-endurance of muscle tissue. However, neither light weight nor aerobic endurance training is effective for stimulating the muscle fibers responsible for growth and definition. The most effective way to create muscle growth and definition is to activate type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers using heavy weight or explosive movements.

There are different types of muscle fibers in the body: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow-twitch fibers produce energy using oxygen and are used to sustain long periods of muscle work, such as maintaining good posture or performing endurance training. Fast-twitch fibers are capable of producing more force in a shorter period of time because they produce energy anaerobically. When it comes to muscle definition, a common goal for exercise, the fast-twitch fibers are responsible for that response. Light weights can be used to train for definition if (and only if) the muscle is worked to fatigue (meaning you can’t perform another single repetition). Lifting 5 pounds for 12 reps is not enough to stimulate the fast-twitch fibers if you are capable of doing a 13th repetition.

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Girls: Toned and Sexy through Weight Training

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Lyen Wong – owner of PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

A skinny body is not always equivalent to a sexy body. Having the right curves means round buttocks, shapely legs and toned arms. If you have a skinny frame, you can gain weight through natural and safe methods. Exercise is the essential key to a healthy weight gain while still maintaining your curves like Jennifer Lopez and toned arms like Demi Moore.

Most women are afraid of too much exercise and weight lifting because they don’t want to have bulging arms and thighs. The truth of the matter is, women can’t have the same muscles like male bodybuilders simply because Mother Nature does not allow it. Women lack the testosterone needed to build those muscles. Don’t believe in stories about women getting manly arms and legs after exercising. There is nothing to fear. A leaner body is your key to a sexier body with curves in the right places. Celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Jessica Biel know the value of toning your legs, arms and buttocks to maintain their sexy shape.

Why exercise at all?

1. To build muscles

For effective weight gain, engaging in regular exercise will help build muscles, increase your metabolism and burn calories. Not only is exercise important in weight loss, it is also necessary in weight gain. Whether you prefer to work out at home or in a gym, you have to choose an exercise routine or sport to keep your body in shape.

Strength training exercises for weight gain involves resistance training to tone those scrawny arms. Regular exercise and physical activity helps in weight management and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

After an intense workout, you burn calories and use energy in your body. You will feel hungry and ready to eat food as much as you can. Use this time to gain weight by eating foods rich in protein as a muscle building block. The hungrier you get after strenuous physical activity, the more you can eat to gain more weight.

2. To improve sleep

Exercise also helps you sleep better. A good night’s sleep is a requirement to maintain a healthy body. When your body gets used to the strength training exercises for weight gain, you will experience high energy levels to make you want to do more. Boosting your energy will give you the fuel to perform your weight gain exercises. The more sets you do, the faster you can build your muscles and tone your body the way you’ve always wanted.

3. To prevent /reverse fat storage

Gaining more weight doesn’t mean being overweight. There is always a difference between a healthy and obese body. Not many people know that muscle is actually heavier than fat. Eating just about anything in excessive amounts will cause you to gain excessive fat. This is harmful to your health due to a number of diseases associated with excess fat intake. You can eat foods rich in fat but in moderation. Your body will need to use fats and turn them to energy as you exercise.

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Strength training basics

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Strength training at PEAK PHYSIQUE & PERFORMANCE

You do not need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength training. A well-designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments). This increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
  • Increased muscle mass. Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 30, largely due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Enhanced quality of life. As general strength increases, the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries, working in the garden) will be less taxing.

 

Starting with the basics

Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all the major muscle groups. Neglecting certain groups can lead to strength imbalances and postural difficulties. A certified fitness professional can help you develop a safe, effective program. You may also wish to consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength-training program.

One set of eight to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue, is usually sufficient. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistance with a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is effective. When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress.

Staying motivated

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that you’ll likely experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone right from the start of your program. Don’t be discouraged, however, if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s only natural that, as your fitness level improves, improvements in strength and appearance will come at a slightly slower pace. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.

Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the minimal added benefit may not be worth the extra time and effort (not to mention the added risk of injury).

Mixing it up

Machines and free weights are effective tools for strength training, and a combination of the two is generally recommended. Utilizing both machines and free weights provides exercise variety, which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety not only reduces boredom, but also provides subtle exercise differences that will enhance progress.

The benefits of strength training are no longer in question. Research continues to demonstrate that strength training increases both muscle and bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. A safe strength-training program combined with cardiovascular and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a total fitness program.

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