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Strength Training 101

10.04.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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Hi Ladies! It's Becky again, here to bring you another fitness tip.

As a professional personal trainer, I often hear how women don't want to lift weights because they don't want to get too big and bulky. I used to be one of those women, fearing my legs would resemble tree trunks if I lifted weights. However, you don't need to be a body builder to benefit from strength training.

In fact, a well-designed strength training program can have many benefits for women! Here are a few of them:

- Increased strength of bones, muscles, connective tissue. This increased strength lowers the risk of injury.

- Increased Muscle Mass. Most adults lose up to one-half pound of muscle every year after the age of 25. I wish I knew this in my 20's! This is mostly due to inactivity. Muscle mass burns up to 50 calories per pound in a 24-hour period. That's a very good reason to build some nice, lean muscle. As your muscle mass increases, it is easier to maintain healthy body weight.

- Enhanced Quality of Life. As your strength increases, you are able to perform daily activities with greater ease and energy.

THE CORE CURRICULUM--

Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all your major muscle groups. It might be a good idea to enlist the help of a certified personal trainer to help you develop a safe, effective program. Strength imbalances and postural difficulties can occur by neglecting certain muscle groups. A trainer can also show you the proper techniques of weight training.

A program may consist of one to three sets of 8-12 repetitions. Working the muscles to the point of fatigue is usually sufficient. I always tell my clients that muscle failure in the gym is a success!

Lower the resistance with a slow and controlled movement through the full range of motion. Lift the weight to a count of 2 and lower to a count of 3-4. When you can perform 12 reps of an exercise correctly, increase the weight of resistance by 5-10% to continue safely making progress.

STAYING MOTIVATED--

An encouraging aspect of strength training is you will experience quick improvements in strength and muscle tone, but don't be discouraged if you hit a plateau. It's only natural as your fitness improves, strength and muscle tone come at a slower pace. To help keep you on track, find a partner to train with you. Hold each other accountable for showing up and cheering on successes.

Plan to work each muscle group at least two times per week, but you can spread it out on different days. That means a full body workout twice a week. Remember to give your muscles 24-48 hours rest and repair before you strength train again the same week.

CHANGE IS GOOD--

Machines and free weights are great tools for strength training. When you combine the two, it gives you a well-rounded program. Variety is important for your muscles and your mind. Variety not only reduces boredom, but provides small exercise differences that will provide constant challenges for your muscles.

Did I convince you strength training is essential and beneficial, even for women? I hope so! Research continues to show that strength training increases muscle and bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. A safe strength training program, combined with heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise and flexibility training, will give you the benefits of a total fitness program.

Have workout questions for the trainer? Post them below!

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