Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fitness Q & A: Women's Strength Training

Are you a cardio queen?  Do you shy away from lifting weights?

Strength training is an integral part of any women's fitness regime.

Whether you are a beginner and are not sure how to get started or a seasoned pro who is afraid to get big and bulky, I am going to answer some of your most burning questions.

Let's get started!

Great question, Christine.

Pushups are a fantastic exercise that works the upper body and helps to strengthen the core, but they can be intimidating for women if you are not sure about proper alignment and breathing.

I have talked about pushups a number of times throughout the PIPES Challenge (you can also check out this video, which demonstrates the different levels), but I haven't outlined how to approach them for a beginner.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. As always, check with your doc before you start any exercise program.
  2. If you are a new exercise or have any injuries, start with the wall pushup.  It is the easiest to do as your are using a smaller percentage of your body weight.
  3. If you take it to the floor, ensure that your hands are placed a little wider than your shoulder width apart so when you come down into the pushup, your elbows and shoulder are parrellel.
  4. On the floor, you can perform the movement from your hips, knees or toes (as shown in the video).  In all cases, make sure that your abdominals are contracted and your hips are pressed down.
  5. Inhale as you lower to the floor for a count of two and exhale to pushup for a two count.
  6. Begin with a single set of 10-12 reps for the first week, 2 sets for the second week and move on to 3 sets for the third week and beyond.
  7. If you are having wrist issues, you can hold a pair of handweights to stabilize.  It is also a good idea to perform wrist curls to help strengthen them.
 The most important thing is that you are performing the exercises safely, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort - stop.

Here is the next question...

This is a great one.  I don't know how many times a client has told me that they never wanted to lift weights for fears of getting bigger.

Most women just don't have the genetic capacity to attain attain the muscle size of a man.  Men naturally have lest body fat and more muscle.

They also have more testosterone, making it almost impossible for women to gain that kind of muscle mass.

That is not to say that women cannot have great muscle gains (as you can see), but Lisa is right.  It takes a lot of work to look like a body builder.  Both men and women literally spend hours a day exercising to prepare for a show.

The average women just isn't going to train like this.

The bottom line is that women need to strength train.  Period.  There are many reasons why, including:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Improved metabolism
  • To reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • To help with weight loss

Don't be afraid to take the plunge.  If you are not sure where to begin, invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer.

If you want to try it on your own, check out a website like SparkPeople, which outlines programs and exercises step-by-step that are based on your fitness goals.

I hope that that was helpful.  Now, get out there and lift some weights. :)

Feel free to connect with me anytime if you have any questions or post your comments below!

Stay Healthy,

P.S.  Do you want more?  Head over to my website and download my free book "7 Women's Strength Training Myths Revealed!"

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