Weight training for women is becoming more appealing than say Johnny Depp in the steam room. This may be because women are realizing that weight training not only helps to build muscle and bone density (remember, strong bones prevent osteoporosis), weight training for women also helps to burn fat. And, face it, burning fat is something every woman wants to do!
Research continues to prove that lifting weights helps to increase lean muscle, which in turn speeds up your metabolism and increases the number of calories your body burns. (One pound of lean muscle mass can burn roughly 100 extra calories a day, even at rest). Even more, weight training may improve psychological health by increasing confidence and self-esteem.
If you want to reap all the appealing benefits of weight training, here are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of your weight room experience.
First and foremost, before you pick up the weights make sure you warm up your body. Increased movement of blood flow through your muscles will warm the tissues and make them more flexible, so your muscles are less vulnerable to injury.
Second, work your larger muscle groups first. If you crank out three different exercises for your biceps and then make your way over to the lat pull-down machine to work on your back, you won’t be able to pull the weight you want to because your biceps will feel fatigued. Your biceps are a secondary muscle group used in the lat pull-down exercise.
Third, control your momentum, lift with good posture, and concentrate on your breathing (always exhaling on the exertion). Whether you’re standing, hinging forward or sitting tall, when you lift with good posture and control the movement of the weight—on both the concentric and eccentric phases—you will achieve greater benefit from the exercise and reduce the risk of sprains, strains and tendonitis. Also, exhaling on the exertion will help you to complete the rep with greater effort and help you to avoid the Valsalva maneuver (holding your breath which can lead to a rise in blood pressure).
And finally, keep track of your progress. If the weight you are using becomes too easy then it is time to increase the resistance. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t want to get big like those Arnold-like men.” Right? Think again. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that after a 12-week program of weight training, men increased their muscle size by 2.5 percent more than women. Both subject groups were following the same program; using the same number of sets, reps and appropriate 12RM weight (12 rep max). Face it, women have less testosterone and smaller muscles to begin with, so women can’t get big and bulky, naturally.
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the gym and pick up those bells. With a safe and effective weight training program, you’ll be building beautiful muscle and making heads turn in no time. Happy lifting!