Seriously, the weather here is completely confusing me. The first official day of spring is not until tomorrow, so it is technically still winter and here in Indiana we have been having near 80 degree weather for the past week. Now, I am not complaining by any means, I am just shocked that it is so nice out!
I took a little break from the to-do list at lunch time to go for a quick 3.8 mile run in this beautiful weather, which then made me crave none other than a smoothie for lunch.
Choco-Raz Protein Smoothie
It was completely delicious and cooled me down after my run while filling my belly 🙂
Women and Strength Training
I learned many things while I was traveling and working on board the cruise line as the fitness director. I learned about different cultures, about what is personally important to me, and more about the body than I ever thought possible in such a short amount of time.
Strength training has always been something that I just sort of “did” because I knew I had to incorporate it into my routine, but there was never a rhyme or a reason as to what I was doing. I would simply throw it in at the end of an intense cardio workout because, like most women, I was/am a cardio addict.
I must say that part of the reason why I didn’t focus more on strength training in the past was for the fear of “bulking up.” We see men pumping iron in the gym, going to the designated “boy area” toning specific muscle groups, and we automatically think that if we do the same thing that we are going to look the same.
Nice to look at...but I don't want to look LIKE that
Well guess what ladies, that is not true! Women physically cannot bulk up the way men do.
While working on the cruise ship, the other fitness director was a male who was very muscular and had a history of competing in Strong Man competitions. Was I intimidated? No, but did I think that the same workout that worked for him would be effective for me? Of course not.
Eventually, we began training together. I completed the exact same workouts as him. We would single out a different muscle group (chest, arms, back, legs, shoulders) and work each group a different day of the week. We would switch up the way we were lifting and the various exercises every four weeks so that our muscles did not adapt, and I was so happy with the results!
Not only has my strength increased and I am beginning to have different muscle tone than I had ever had before, but it has also helped with my cardiovascular endurance. The strength in my body allows me to propel through a cardiovascular workout with ease, which gives me motivation to complete another half marathon.
Simple things like push-ups are now easy and something that I enjoy doing. When before I would always opt for the “female” version. And did I bulk up? Absolutely not.
No bulk here!
My biggest worry is that now that I no longer have a gym membership and I cannot complete strength training workouts as regularly, I will lose my muscle strength and tone. So, now I have the dilemma of getting creative with my strength training routines.
Benefits of Strength Training for Women
Burning More Calories
The more muscle you have in your body, the more calories it takes to feed them. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories your muscles require to survive in a comatose state (when you are doing absolutely nothing!). When you have more muscles, your body requires more fuel, meaning you are burning more calories without necessarily doing more activity.
When we complete a cardio only workout regiment, often times we are using our muscles for energy rather than our stored fat. When we use our muscles for energy our body stores more fat. So the numbers on the scale may go down, but we still have a “soft” appearance in those problem areas that we all want to get rid of.
Increase Bone Density
By putting a slight amount of stress on our bones, it causes our bone density to increase which helps to prevent osteoporosis. It is never too late and it is never too early to start resistance training.
Decreased Risk of Injury
When you strength train you are also strengthening your connective tissue and stabilizing your joints. It is important to have strong thigh and leg muscles to prevent knee injuries, and it is important to regularly stretch and strengthen your back in order to prevent lower back injuries and pain.
How to Incorporate Strength Training into your Routine
There are so many ways to incorporate strength training into your regular routine:
- Attend group fitness classes that focus on teaching participants how to use weights: Body Pump
- Incorporate pilates and yoga 2-3 times a week into your regular routine
- Use free weights
- Use selectorize machines (the weight machines that focus on specific muscle groups)
- Body weight exercises
- See a personal trainer
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