‘I don’t want to bulk up’ is one of the most common statements I hear when introducing female clients to resistance training.
Just the thought of a dumbbell seems to conjure up images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Olympian power lifters when explaining the benefits of a strength training routine.
This is easily understandable as most of the people in the free weights area in any gym are big, muscular men trying to lift as heavy as humanly possible.
But women do not and should not train the same as men. They are of course equal but not the same.
Females have higher levels of oestrogen and about 10 times less testosterone, which is the hormone that helps build muscle.
Female bodybuilders in fact spend at least 3 hours a day trying to increase muscle size and some even turn to anabolic steroids to achieve the effect, proving just how hard it is to get mass.
2 sets of 10 repetitions of a Bicep Curl certainly won’t give you arms like Popeye!
Following a resistance training program has great aesthetic benefits; it will help shape and sculpt your body and firm up the arms, legs, stomach and butt. All the main areas I get told during my consultations with female clients.
Weight lifting helps you burn fat, as lean muscle is metabolically more active than fat and needs more calories to function.
Resistance training will also delay or prevent the onset of osteoporosis, increase joint stability and improve posture.
Women tend to suffer more orthopaedic injury then men in most sports in which they both participate.
Lifting weights will strengthen the core musculature, which is important, as a chronic lack of strength and function on the lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles is evident in the 47.5% of females at an average age of 38.5 years who suffer incontinence.
All these problems can often be helped with the right resistance training routine.
To develop functional strength and stability begin your workout with free weights or body weight that targets the greatest number of muscles and joints.
Exercises like lunges, squats, deadlifts and rows are great examples.
Choose 4-5 exercises in each session and aim to perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
Complete 1-3 sets with a 60 second rest period.
Using these guidelines will help you carry out an effective strength training routine.
Any fitness professional can help you pick the right exercises and ensure you are executing the moves safely.
Follow this plan and you will improve your body shape, boost your metabolism, burn more calories and fat at rest, and have no worries about becoming a female ‘Ah-nold.’