I loved running every morning, for years. Feeling the sun kissing my skin while drying the sweat from my body, as the speed of my own cadence created a gentle breeze against my face adding an element of serenity to my day.
Unfortunately, my body decided running could no longer be the passion I lived for when it came to exercise. With knee pain, early onset degenerative arthritis in my hip and finally a torn plantar facial ligament at mile four of my first half marathon, I was forced to search for an alternative fitness routine.
Thin, 45 years old, lacking muscle tone and not sure what to do, my husband suggested I meet with his personal trainer. I laughed at first. Me weight training? I saw pictures of female body building giants, oh no, this was not what I wanted. But he sweetly encouraged me to check out this intimidating form of fitness.
From the minute I turned the knob and opened the door into The Fitness Edge Gym, West Palm Beach, and the personal training industry, my life changed. Under the expert guidance and body shape training of my amazing personal trainer, Bill Neylon, I was hooked. He was patient, but pushed me. He gave me confidence with weights and with myself. But most importantly, Bill proved to me that I was not going to look like a female version of The Hulk from lifting weights. As a matter of fact, I am in better shape today at 50 than I was at 20!
You see, AS WE AGE we lose muscle mass and bone density, but we can rebuild it through resistance training. When you are working against your own body weight, like with a push up, or when you use resistance from free weights, bands, cables, or exercise machines you are resistance training, also know as strength training.
Strength training can help you to achieve a tone, firm body with the curves and shape you desire. Want less arm jiggle? Embrace those dumbbells baby. Desiring more shapely legs? Squats and lunges are key. How about a bigger bootie? Hip thrusts, hyper-extensions and donkey kicks are the way to go.
Aside from achieving a firmer physique, the benefits of strength training include; improved strength, balance and mobility, a better posture, prevention and control of chronic health diseases, increased energy, cognitive thinking and self esteem. Additionally, it increases your lean muscle mass, which requires more energy and burns more calories, during and after your workout.
Did you know that only 20.3% of women 18 years and older are meeting the recommended Physical Activity Guidelines for both muscle-strengthening and aerobic activity, according to a March 2017 National Health Interview Survey, by the National Center for Health Statistics?
So the big question, why aren’t women strength training? The three overwhelming responses I hear from friends, family and clients are:
- Bulking Up. Probably the number one fear for women. First of all, you are not a man. Your body is different, point blank. Yes, women can build muscle, but due to our increased levels of estrogen, and decreased levels of testosterone, as well as the fact that men have larger muscle fibers overall, it IS NOT going to happen, and certainly not overnight. Muscle development takes time and training. With proper form and consistency you can sculpt your body to the image you wish to achieve.
- Not knowing what exercises to do, or how to do it. You merely need a little guidance. Enlist some help initially. Most gyms or health care facilities will offer the assistance of a trainer. You don’t have to drain your piggy bank, or sign your life away. But receiving the knowledge and assistance in the beginning will set you up for a safer and more rewarding experience.
- Intimidation of working out in front of others with weights. You don’t have to feel intimidated. Once you learn the correct form and movements your world will open up to utilizing any of the weights, cables or machines you choose. You may even inspire someone else! Checkout my article Women Overcoming Obstacles With Free Weights for more pointers.
It is important to note that our body types vary from woman to woman. Some women can grow muscles at a quicker pace, while others may need a bit more time. To learn more about your body type and training tips check out my article, It’s Your Body – Know It, so you can find the best routines for your shape.
As of 2017, the American Heart Association recommends that adults should strength train at least two times a week and that they should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. So what is holding us back?
We spend hundreds of dollars on activities for our children or others each year, but when it comes to our overall health we feel guilty for spending a penny. Shouldn’t we focus on investing in our preventative health today, to avoid paying physically and financially in our future? Aren’t we worth it?
You can still run, walk, spin, swim, play tennis, cycle or whatever cardiovascular activity you chose, but add some resistance training into your life and open the doors to 2018 to a healthier lifestyle for you!
Please let me know if you found this article useful. You are welcome to add your comments below.
Thank you – Michelle