For many individuals, the thought of strength training or weight lifting is met with resistance (pun intended). They may not completely understand the true benefits of strength training, as it can add not only to maintaining a healthy weight and weight loss goals, but also contributes a number of benefits to daily living. Too many women in particular fear getting to bulky if they begin to strength train. Some people feel they are too old or too weak to start a weight lifting based program. Others are just simply addicted to cardio and perhaps too focused on the number of calories burned in a session, according to a machine or a fitness tracker. This calorie specific data may create false hope, as the actual calorie burn is often miscalculated, and the overall benefit from cardio intense training may be short lived and not well understood. Several myths about strength training including a number common misconceptions need to be addressed, in order to truly highlight potential fitness gains that result from incorporating weight lifting into your fitness routine.
First let’s look at the idea that strength training will make you too bulky as a woman. The female body is not wired to get too bulky, so this couldn’t be farther from the truth. According to Bret Contreras, PhD, CSCS, “Heavy lifting is fat loss training, it increases muscle mass while simultaneously diminishing fat mass”. Research has found that training involving sets of up to 15 repetitions, 4 times a week for 6 months, yielded a threefold decrease in body fat and increase in local muscular endurance, along with a substantial increase in lean body mass.
Some people feel that once they reach a certain age, they are too old to strength train and gains are only attainable for the younger generation. The problem with this thinking is two fold:
1.) As we age we lose muscle mass and bone density
2.) Weakness due to lack of strength training increases the risk of injury in daily activities.
The U. S. Department of Health recommends all individuals regardless of age practice some type of strength training routine 2-3 times a week. Bone density loss can be managed through regular strength training, thus helping to prevent injuries due to falls which are a common occurrence in the older population. By the age of 70, the average adult has lost 25% of their muscle mass. This eye opening statistic serves as additional reasoning why it is important to continue with some sort of strength regimen into one’s later years of life.
The final misconception that strength training is only for strong people is also misguided. Everyone starts somewhere. While intimidation of not being able to complete the exercises or lift a certain perceived weight is a real fear for some, it is important to remember that you need to start somewhere in order to progress. Body weight exercises are often a great starting point when first embarking in a strength training routine. Chair squats, hip bridges, lunges, wall or bench push-ups, all serve as a perfect starting point. These types of exercises can easily be modified to be more challenging as one becomes more proficient and stronger. If you are interested in adding resistance training into your routine, try of the following programs as an introduction. If you would like additional guidance with incorporating personalized strength training into your healthy habits, reach out to fitwithshaver.com to create a custom program.
Beginner: Do each of the following exercises for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between sets and before changing to the next exercise: Floor bridge, Dead bug, Incline push-up(using chair or bench), Forearm plank (30 sec), Lateral band walk.
Intermediate: 3 sets of each exercise, 10-15 repetitions. Dumbbell dead lift, Dumbbell bench press, Step up to balance, Bent over supported dumbbell row, Prisoner squat to calf raise, Push up plank position shoulder tap, Medicine ball figure 8. Rest 60 seconds between each set and before moving on to the next exercise.
Advanced: 3 sets of each exercise, 10-15 repetitions. Squat to overhead press(with dumbbells), Push up with rotation, Kettle bell swing, Reverse fly on a ball, Single leg dead lift with dumbbell, Renegade row, Reverse lunge bicep curl. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets and before switching to the next exercise.
Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine clearly has many beneficial outcomes and contributes to an overall balanced healthy lifestyle. Cardio training and weight training work synergistically to enhance total body fitness and prevent common injuries that sometimes occur when only one repetitive training style is utilized. Want a free strength guide? Download this one: https://mailchi.mp/f62904270cf3/busy-womans-guide-to-strength-training?fbclid=IwAR2XXCIw-st5GCB-2bhp-j5j9_fYTH-dUmGYawdesQQ9cRW5yRpGJz0AE4g