Optimum Performance Through Education – October 2010

Achieving a More Balanced Physique

Part 1 of 3: Women on Weights

Over the course of my career I’ve often been asked about what the best way to lose weight is and how to achieve a more balanced physique. In the most simple of explanations, there are three criteria that need to be met in order to achieve the best results: resistance training, cardio-vascular exercise and proper nutrition. Sounds simple right? Yet our struggle continues day in and day out. More often than not, I see the majority of women slugging it out on the cardio equipment and yet the number of women in the weight room completing resistance training is very low. There are a lot of benefits to including resistance training into your workout program. Participating in this type of training through the use of either free weights or machines will completely change your overall look by giving you shape in places you’ve always wanted while minimizing those areas that you’d prefer not to accentuate. It provides results that are different than those that come from completing only car-diovascular training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you all of a sudden stop doing cardio and switch to only lifting weights. Cardio is an essential component to help keep your heart and lungs functioning at an optimal level and will help to reduce body fat. But remember, meeting the three criteria to achieve a more balanced physique is impor-tant, and finding the right balance that works for you is even more important! If you are like many women I have spoken with about training, you too may need a few points to help you be successful and encourage you to start your weight training.
Point #1: Muscle building through the use of resistance training can help us create more lean body mass which will allow your body to burn more calories even when you’re at rest. Not only are calories burned during your resistance training session, but studies show that they continue to be burned well after the session is completed.
Point #2: Women using weights will NOT bulk up. If you are avoiding the weight room simply because you fear that resis-tance training will cause you to develop overly large muscles, let me assure you that there is no need to worry. Women naturally possess only 5 to 10 percent of the testosterone that men do and therefore gaining large, masculine amounts of muscle is a very difficult task to achieve.
Point #3: Resistance training can improve bone density and decrease risk for developing osteoporosis.
Point #4: Exercise decreases depression and anxiety while stimulating your mental focus and general overall mood by increasing dopamine and endorphins within our system.
Point #5: Women should challenge themselves and attempt to use heavy weights. I often like to tell my clients to not be afraid to lift heavy weights. Ideally, when choosing a particu-lar weight for a given exercise you should try to find one that is heavy enough so that your last few repetitions are very difficult to complete. Your body is a complex and responsive system. It will adapt to those demands that are placed upon it. I challenge you to give it a try, you might just surprise yourself and realize how strong you really are.
Point #6: It is best to complete your resistance training prior to your cardio program. This way your body will be able to work harder and lift more weight. As a result, you will achieve greater strength gains and your results will show a more lean, toned look. You should be at your freshest when beginning your weight training. In addition, your body can rely primarily on your glycogen stores for completing the weights, giving your body a better opportunity to tap into your fat stores while completing your cardio.
Yours in Fitness,

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