Get Toned and Firm with Resistance Training, Not Cardio
Most women walk into a gym with a picture in their head of being long, lean and strong. However, what most women end up doing is going to the gym and hitting the cardio equipment. They forget all about weight training, which is the most essential part of building muscle and strength.
Women are often very hesitant to start to weight train for many reasons; the main one I hear is that they are afraid of “bulking” up. Other concerns include fear of injury or excessive DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) which can be a real concern if you are inexperienced with weight training. The best way to decrease the chance of injury is to hire an experienced certified personal trainer that can put together a balanced, efficient program and show you how to do the exercises safely and with proficient form.
The truth of the matter, the most efficient way to decrease pain, increase tone, strength, bone density and speed up your metabolism is to increase muscle, which means you have to weight train.
Why Women Are Afraid of Weight Training
In North American Culture, there is still a lot of ambiguity when it comes to what we find acceptable and even beautiful with the female form. The media celebrates their idea of an ideal female body which tends to be very thin with little muscle, and that contrasts heavily with how female athletes look. No wonder women are confused.
Women are therefore usually pulled in two different directions as to what they are hoping to develop when it comes to working out. What they hold in their mind as beautiful may not be achievable since most of the pictures we see in the media are completely Photo shopped and seriously enhanced. Most models don’t even resemble themselves once the photographs have been airbrushed. The only way this fallacy is going to change is if we start to change what we see as beautiful and what we know to be healthy.
As a fitness professional, I have consistently had women tell me that they are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to get bulky or look like a bodybuilder! Consequently, they have spent years doing just abdominal exercises and cardio because they don’t want to look like a man in their mind.
Men Have More Testosterone and Skeletal Muscle Mass Compared to Women
Women can’t and won’t put on muscle the same as a man for a variety of reasons. One reason is men have more testosterone and skeletal muscle mass compared to women, according to a study published in Journal of Applied Physiology. Due to these differences in testosterone and muscle mass, men tend to be stronger than women. This also means they have more power output. Women can develop their skeletal muscle and strength, but not to the extent of what a man can achieve. It takes an unbelievable amount of long-term heavy lifting and steroid use, for a woman to look like a man. The women that get quite muscular (without the use of steroids), tend to already be quite big, strong and muscular before beginning weight training. For most women, the best they can hope for with weight training is to sculpt an awesome, lean, toned and fit looking body – not big and bulky.
Why Women Don’t Bulk Up Like Men
Men and women both have the hormones testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and DHEA. However, men have much higher levels of testosterone and DHEA than women do and women have a much higher concentration of estrogen and progesterone. Testosterone is what enables men to build muscle so proficiently.
Testosterone levels in healthy adult males range between 280 to 1,100 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dL). Testosterone levels in women fluctuate, regular measurements range from 15 to 70 ng/dL. Testosterone is a potent hormone, this is one (if not the) primary factor that enables men to build muscle much more easily and more quickly than women.
Women who do bodybuilding at a competitive level take testosterone, androgens and steroids to achieve that body type. Female bodybuilders also have a specific program that includes lifting heavy weights to achieve their specific look which is more intense than the average woman who is just trying to look good or wants to achieve optimal health.
So What Does All of This Mean?
So what does all of this mean? Women who work out will build more muscle mass. However, unless aided by “supplements” women will not look like a man. Weight training will tone your body which will help you to achieve a firm, healthy attractive shape.
You may notice as you tone up and reduce clothing size, your weight may not decrease as fast as you may have desired. What you should keep track of is your measurements and body fat as a more accurate guide for your goals. As your body changes at different times, you may feel your clothes are looser and tighter in different spots than usual (most women report the waist on their pants feel looser while around the butt and arms clothes can feel tighter temporarily). That will all change as you continue to train, but you need to give it the appropriate amount of time to get a genuinely lean and toned look. A regular strength training program will help you to increase lean body mass and burn calories more efficiently, which can result in healthy weight loss. Patience is key!
Weight training is an essential way for women to increase bone density which should be started as early as possible in adolescence. With age, women increase their risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are conditions in which bone mineral density is lower than average. Women with these conditions have an increased susceptibility to fractures. Women should weight train to strengthen and improve bone density. The earlier women start to resistance train, the more bone they store in their “Bone Bank” which will offset the bone loss that comes with age and inactivity.
Research has shown that six months of weightlifting may increase bone mineral density by as much as 15 percent. The increase in bone density is due to loading stresses on the skeletal system and has what is called an osteogenic effect, meaning that it creates new bone. The result? You will own a stronger skeletal structure and have a reduced risk for osteoporosis.
When you weight train, you help protect your joints from injury and increase your balance and coordination. Increasing muscle becomes increasingly more important to help you maintain your independence as you age.
Where to Start?
Working with Infofit elite certified trainers will help you achieve your personal fitness goals in a responsible, safe and efficient manner. We start by pairing you up with an industry leader who will assess your current fitness level and develop a custom workout routine that delivers a highly effective and efficient process of building muscle and burning fat.
Infofit elite personal trainers can make weight training programs to suit any lifestyle or goal. We train in studio, at your home or online! Hiring a certified Personal Trainer through Infofit is one of the best investments you can make about your overall health and fitness. If you are serious about a future, fueled by healthy eating, increased activity and infinite possibilities, then start with your very own Infofit life coach and personal trainer
Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL