Do you head straight for the cardio equipment at the gym or pound the pavement day after day only to find you can’t burn body fat?
You need to take a good hard look at your workouts and start including strength training. Many women seem to avoid this ultimate fat burner for fear that it may build them up and they will develop big and bulky muscles.
Most women believe that they will bulk up from lifting weights the same as a man can but as you produce between 10 to 30 times less testosterone, this would never be the case. Instead you will define and sculpt your muscles and what woman doesn’t want a tight, sculpted physique?
The best way to achieve this change is to lift weights 3 times a week, coupled with interval training to get optimum results. Your body will then start to burn body fat and gain lean muscle. As this increases so does your metabolism, which means for every pound of muscle that your body gains it will burn up to 50 calories more each day, turning your body into a ‘fat burning furnace’!
Strength training for women is not only aesthetically good for over all confidence but if we delve deeper into this subject we will find that there are far more holistic health benefits.
1. Increased strength enables you to perform an everyday activity that requires lifting, pushing and pulling, so as you age you are able to cope far better with the everyday tasks in life.
2. Your tendons and ligaments become stronger, which supports your joints and decrease the chance of injury from other activities. A recent 12 year study showed that strengthening the lower back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in alleviating or even eliminating lower back pain.
3. Your metabolism will increase, so as you start to age you will be able to avoid the middle age metabolic sluggishness that unfortunately starts to occur at this time in your life. The main rule to keeping the pounds off in later life is not to cut back on your food intake but to keep up a good strength training program.
4. Osteoporosis is a major concern for all women around the world; it’s a condition that affects far more women then men. Strength training can dramatically increase your bone density reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
5. Strength training can help keep your heart healthy, lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising your HDL (good) cholesterol and also lowering your blood pressure.
6. Improved glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by 23% in only 4 months, which means reduced risk of type II diabetes.
7. Extensive research has shown that lifting weights reduces clinical depression and lifts your mood. Enabling you to cope with whatever life throws at you.
8. The effects of lifting weights also help promote a good night’s sleep. This will help with concentration and managing everyday stress during your waking hours.
Unfortunately some women who do lift weights are told to lift very light weights. This recommendation is often taken to the extreme, and they will perform many repetitions with extremely light weights or even (dare I say) tin cans or water bottles which still to this day are recommended by trainers and certain fitness magazines.
Without sufficient load (weight), the muscle will not change, and the goal of “tone” and “shape” cannot be achieved. A change in the shape or tone of a muscle is created in the same way that size is created, with hard work and consistency!
In order to shape or tone your muscle, you must perform 10 to 12 repetitions and lift a weight that is heavy enough to take your muscle to ‘fatigue’. In other words a weight that is heavy enough that by the last repetition you couldn’t possibly do another one without compromising your form.
How well you lift is just as important as how much you lift. Sloppy form can lead to injuries and can greatly decrease the effectiveness of your workouts. For the best way to burn body fat aim for full body resistance based circuits that targets your entire body.
I still hear the words ‘Spot Reduction’ far too much these days, it is completely impossible to spot-reduce fat. The region of the body that first reveals a noticeable decrease in body fat is pre-determined and is established by a person’s unique genetics.
Targeting certain areas of your body will not make fat disappear, in fact it can have the complete opposite effect. For example, performing large amounts of crunches will not make the fat from your stomach disappear. You can actually build muscle mass underneath your fat which can make that particular area look a lot bigger.
The only way to flatten your stomach is to follow a good training program that will burn body fat.
On a final note, do not rely on the scales to track your progress. When you lose fat you will see a significant change in your overall body shape but this may not equally reflect the change in body weight.
You will however be able to fit into a smaller pair of jeans, which I’m sure you’ll agree is far better than seeing the number on the scales go down. This is because muscle is denser than fat and although it may weigh the same it manages to squeeze itself into a much smaller space in the body.
So next time, think twice about jumping on the scales and aim for a goal where you can see and feel the difference instead!
Be a strong woman in every sense of the word, physically, psychologically and visually.