Fitmark Ambassador Maegan Swain talks about getting stronger
The most common thing I hear as a personal trainer or even just in the gym is women complaining that lifting weights will give them big muscles, that it will make them look like a man, and I have sat by and watched as they have neglected a very important aspect of any fitness program – strength.
I’ve seen numerous fitness “gurus” promote the use of very light weights or body weight training as the only form of exercise women should be doing to get a sexy, feminine body. Guess what? I couldn’t disagree more!
Check it out! The fact of the matter here is most women just don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone to support “manly muscles,” and in my opinion staying away from weight training is a HUGE mistake. Scientific evidence demonstrates that to fight off bone density loss (osteoporosis), and to keep the body strong, it must be externally loaded with resistance, which means using weights.
This is a perfect example of initiating the “use it or lose it” principle. In order to preserve muscle mass and maintain strength, some challenging strength training should be used. It has also been shown that body weight exercises like Yoga, and Pilates, do not have the same bone-strengthening advantages that weight training does, as your body is already designed to carry itself.
Think about it, do you think that an exercise program that doesn’t include lifting weights can have the same positive effect on your muscle and skeletal strength? Logic would dictate that answer is of course not.
In my career and personal experience I have trained all of my clients, both men and women, with weights in some shape or fashion, both in functional training and some traditional forms, and not one woman has ever looked manly, or complained of being too muscular. Instead, they voiced their feelings of being strong, having better stamina, and for those that played a recreational sport, a marked improvement in their game.
When women start to weight train they can gain a small amount of muscle that helps to rev up their metabolism, which can then help them to lose some body fat. With less body fat covering the muscle, it is now more visible, thus creating the appearance of the muscles being bigger.
Everybody has abs, quads and biceps – it is the amount of body fat covering them that can make the difference between looking toned and muscular, or soft and flabby. Of course I said most women, there are some women who build muscle more easily than others, but that is the exception not the rule.
I’m not suggesting that women, or men for that matter should completely stay away from body weight exercises, or classes such as yoga and TRX. All exercise forms have specialized benefits, and a place within your fitness program. The key is to know what each one is good for so you can apply it to your routine in an appropriate manner.
However, while I think some exercises are unnecessary, I am suggesting that everyone needs to include strength training in their regime to realize their full fitness potential. It helps to maintain muscle mass, boost hormone levels, and keep your skeleton strong, which is of utmost importance as you get older and hormone levels decline.
And let me be very clear, I said “strength training,” I’m not asking anyone to become a power lifter or bodybuilder, or for women to run out and chest press 250 lbs or max squat 500 lbs.
I am asking you to include some form of resistance training in your workout. Including weight training in your workout has tremendous crossover, meaning it will make your other exercise classes even more productive! Of all the exercise fads that have come or gone, one thing remains constant – strength training and dumbbells are here to stay.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013