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The New Year has begun, and if you are already growing impatient waiting to see results from all that cardio, you may be leaving out an important piece of the puzzle – weight training!  Yes, weights!  And not those pretty, pink hand weights or those fancy machines, real barbells.  More and more women everywhere are seeing and feeling the positive results of weight training, yet many women still worry about bulking up and are afraid to give it a chance

It is a great feeling to be STRONG!  You will be able to lift those boxes all by yourself and not have to wait for some guy to do it.  As a single mom, my boys are getting bigger, but they still rely on me to lift or open anything difficult.  I want them to see how powerful women can be.  There is never a time in life when being weak comes in handy!

Some important facts to keep in mind:

  • You will not bulk up.  Our bodies are not made to get bulky – we do not have the testosterone to look like body builders. When you lift weights that are challenging, you actually create micro-tears in the muscle fibers. (This is the soreness you feel.)  As these tears are repaired by your body, the muscle becomes stronger.  Because muscle tissue is more dense than fat, adding more muscle to your body actually makes you look leaner—not bigger. To truly bulk up, you would have to train with that goal in mind. Bodybuilders spend hours and hours in the gym lifting extremely heavy weights, and eat a very strict diet to promote muscle gain. The average person’s workout and diet—especially a calorie-controlled diet—will not lead to the same effects.
  • Increased metabolism.  Another amazing benefit of weight training is what it does for your metabolism.  It allows you to take advantage of your body’s natural ability to maintain an “after-burn,” known as Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). The after-burn is the extra calories your body burns after you complete a weight lifting workout. Your metabolism will stay elevated for anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of your workout.  This means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.  It takes extra calories just to keep muscle.
  • Heavy weights are key. Many women rely on lighter weights with higher reps in an attempt to get a more toned body.  However, to get truly toned, you need larger muscles and less fat. One recent study found that lifting 85% of your maximum ability for 8 reps burns about twice as many calories in the two hours post workout as compared with 15 reps at 45% of your maximum ability.  Don’t give up lighter weights entirely, as they do a great job of building endurance, but they do not build tight, dense, strong muscles.
  • Weight loss.  Some women worry that once they begin weight training, their weight will go up or they won’t lose the weight that had hoped.  Try not to focus on the scale and don’t get frustrated before you see results.  At first, your muscles may retain water as they react to the shock of the workouts and the recovery afterward.  But as you continue weight training, you will be building muscle and shedding fat.  This may still not translate to high weight loss, but a pound of muscle is much denser than a pound of fat, so your body may shrink even if your weight doesn’t change significantly.  Keep in mind that muscle is a metabolism booster – the more you have, the more calories and fat you will burn all day long!
  • Getting older.  As we age, maintaining muscle mass becomes more and more important.  Muscle may make the 40 something woman slightly heavier than in her college years, but the improved body composition and faster metabolism is the big payoff.  Many women find they’re able to attain a lower body fat percentage, fit into smaller sizes, and generally feel more vigorous by adding weight training.

The bottom line is weight training can lead to fat loss, stronger leaner muscles, better fitting clothes and a general better feeling of wellness and strength.  What are your waiting for – let’s get lifting!!

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