Last updated on May 9th, 2013 at 09:09 am
Women have a huge advantage when adding weight lifting to their fitness. We have the opportunity to sculpt a feminine symmetrical shape that helps you build muscle and lose fat.
This fitness and health dreamer added weight training to my weight loss plan about 6 months in. I knew that although the weight was steadily coming off, the number of pounds lost were leaving behind some sagging.The best way to combat sagging is to keep everything underneath tighter.
Weight lifting for women speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn off fat. Your body increases its ability at burning calories. Here’s one way to look at it: Think of 2 cars in a race.
The first car is small and light, but has a huge engine. The second car is a hunk of steel but has a tiny engine… which would go the fastest in 10 miles?
Your muscle mass is your engine, and the bigger it is in proportion to your frame, the more efficient your fat burning machine becomes.
Weight training balances your body
Building muscle mass – and we aren’t talking about being masculine looking here girls – actually uses up calories from your food in order to maintain itself. That’s fewer calories lying around that might turn into fat.
Weight training increases your hear rate and yes, even though its basically anaerobic exercise, not necessarily designed for fat-burning the way cardio workouts are. Between weight sets, your heart rate stays up, and you actually get some great aerobic effects throughout your weight workout circuit.
You can take advantage of this effect by using light to medium weight and do more reps. Not sure what the heck I’m talking about?
A weight workout is repetitive motion working a certain set of muscles. In my post and video below, I demonstrate a bicep and tricep curl. For this type of exercise, you want to repeat at least 10-15 “reps” – or repetitions – at a time.
A “set” is a group of these reps. For most weight lifting exercises you want to complete 3 sets. You want the weight you are using to be really heavy when you get to the end of your first set. A light weight, high rep set would look like this:
- Set #1 – Complete 15 reps. The last few reps should feel like hard work so make sure to keep your form.
- Rest 60 seconds. This rest time will decrease over time as you gain strength.
- Set #2 – Complete another 15 reps. This set will start feeling harder at about the 10 rep mark.
- Rest 60 seconds.
- Set #3 – Complete the last 15 reps. This set should feel like a challenge about half way through.
You know you are using the right weight when the last set is hard work. If you are breezing through your weight workout – and still look super cute at the end of it – you may be getting the aerobic effect, but your muscle mass won’t increase.
Getting comfortable with weights
Walking up to the free weights in any gym takes a bit of confidence. If you aren’t comfortable with dumbbells or those handy weight machines, there are plenty of ways to use your own body weight to work out those muscles.
The key is to find a machine or method that motivates you so you are more likely to stick with your workout routine.
Weight lifting has some great side effects. People who lift weights sleep more restfully, which helps support one key element of weigh loss: A good nights sleep. Building strength makes it easy to increase physical activity in other activities. No matter what the sport, you will see athletes spending time in the gym.
If you play tennis, training simply by playing the game improves agility, but adding the impact to your serve will come with strengthening your shoulders, arms, legs and core torso muscles. With the extra power in muscles that have pushed and pulled some weight around. You will feel the difference when you hit the ball harder and watch your game play be more explosive.
Ladies… give weight lifting a chance
I talk to women of all shapes and sizes, and every fitness level. If they aren’t lifting weights, the number one concern is that they will be adding bulk. In fact as muscle becomes denser, containing less marbleized fat, you will appear smaller.
As women, we don’t become masculine looking as we build up our muscle mass, instead developing a symmetrical feminine shape. We don’t have the same hormonal mix that men have and aren’t able to build muscle mass the same way. It’s takes a ton of training, and some illegal substances for us to get the same muscle bulk as men.
When you start your weight training, ignore the scale for a while. Instead, get out the tape measure. I measure my bicep, waist, hip and thighs to judge how my weight lifting results are going. Just write it down, you’ll be glad you did. Try measuring every two weeks and be sure to log your workouts.
Your weight may stay the same for a month or two, but you will see your measurements shrink!
Got an opinion on adding weight lifting to your fitness plan? What is your biggest concern about weight lifting? Share in the comments…
Go get your fit on – Heather
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and serial entrepreneur who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.
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