PT Carly Tierney reveals four of her top myth busters when it comes to both cardio and strength training… Myth-Buster-Part-1-Strength-Training-for-Women--1-webYOU WILL NOT GET BULKY FROM PICKING UP HEAVY THINGS Almost all fitness marketing that is geared at women is nonsense. If marketers were telling the truth, they’d be saying things like: “Want to tone, tuck, and tighten those abs? Don’t waste your time with this!”, “Want to banish that belly fat? This ab roller won’t help!” or “Want to get stronger? You’re going to need to pick up something heavier than this!”. In practically every women’s fitness magazine, you are presented with a new workout that promises crazy results in just minutes a day by “toning muscles” with light weights. We are being promised super-foods that specifically target belly fat, and ab, glute and thigh workouts that are designed to “tighten those problem areas.” I want to set the record straight today and destroy every myth that I have heard when it comes to women and strength training. You know those female bodybuilders who look really bulky? They eat, train, and take supplements specifically so they can look like that! They’ve probably been working towards that goal for years and years. Here’s the truth: when you pick up heavy things, your muscles get stronger, but not necessarily bigger. If you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat considerably more calories than you are burning every day, you will get bigger. If you pick up heavy things and eat the right kinds of food at a caloric deficit, your muscles will get stronger and denser, meaning you will burn the fat on top of your muscle and achieve that lean look that you are after. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU I am a big fan of the saying: “do what makes you happy.” If you happen to enjoy running, Zumba or spinning, that is awesome – more power to you. However, if you are only doing those things to lose weight and you aren’t seeing results, stop. There is a better way. So, cardio vs weights. Believe it or not, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio. When you strength train your muscles are broken down, and then rebuild themselves over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen – generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect. What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level, even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout. Want to hear another interesting fact about exercise? You don’t necessarily need to strength train or smash it on the treadmill! I hate saying it, but it’s true. If your goal is to just lose weight, then fixing your diet will get you 80-90% of the way there. If you never want to set foot in a gym, god forbid pick up a weight, that’s fine. For exercise, it’s important to find things that make you happy, such as walks with family or swimming to unwind after work. Now, if your goals go beyond just losing weight and you want to earn yourself a killer bod, then I advise you to strength train, something of which you can do in many ways. Examples of strength training would be to pick up heavy things, swing kettlebells, do yoga and bodyweight exercises and even carry your kids on a long walk. The idea is to do something that makes you use your muscles in a strenuous way. Did you know that strength training also helps to correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and inactivity – all factors for heart disease? To the point where cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack, as little as three weeks after the attack? This is proof that strength training is more than just sweating in a gym. WOMEN & MEN SHOULD NOT TRAIN DIFFERENTLY This is another myth that drives me crazy, something of which you can read more about in my previous post. In commercial gyms across the country, we often see men go through intense strength training routines with squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, push ups, pull ups and lunges. In those same gyms, female clients do light weight dumbbell circuits, stability ball squats for high repetitions, and endless cardio and classes. There is no reason that men and women can’t complete the same types of exercises. While a guy can lift to get bigger, a woman can lift in the same way, but instead to build that tight, lean look that many women aim for. Women have just as much a right to be in the free weights section and squat rack as guys do. Unfortunately, it’s just less common, though at my gym I'm changing that! Train how you want to train. There is no reason you can’t do overhead presses, pull ups, squats, and deadlifts, just like everybody else. In fact, following a routine like that is a damn good way to give you the best chance to build the body you want! This said, remember that your diet is 80-90% of the battle, and thanks to hormones, oestrogen, testosterone, and genetic and dietary differences, two people will end up with drastically different results. Alongside that, there are quite a few issues that women deal with that men do not, some which require specific information and advice, examples being pregnancy, menopause and so on. NOT ALL OLDER WOMEN NEED TO TAKE IT EASY After women reach menopause and the potential for osteoporosis kicks in, many women tend to shy away from strength training for fear of injuring themselves. Actually, that is the PERFECT time to strength train. Studies have shown that in post-menopausal women, strength training “preserved bone density while improving muscle mass, strength, and balance in postmenopausal women.” Age is only a number. Some women think they have to stop strength training as they get older, but many can feel older because they have stopped strength training! If a 73-year-old grandma can strength train, what’s your excuse? Check back soon for part two of this post, where Carly looks at food, spot reducing and working out for the right reasons! Myth-Buster-Part-1--Strength-Training-for-Women-web [caption id="attachment_641" align="aligncenter" width="150"]Carly Tierney Personal Trainer Guest post by PT & Media Fitness Expert Carly Yue.[/caption]