Ladies: Lift Like Hercules, Look Like Aphrodite
by Bob Wells, CPT, PES
"But, I don't want to get big", or some variation on these words, is probably the most common protest that I hear when I train women for the first time. Popular fallacy has put such a fear of lifting weights into most of you, that you think transformation into She-Hulk will begin immediately upon commencement of any weight training program.
That is, unless you vigilantly refrain from lifting serious weight, anything over 8 pounds usually. Additionally, it is "necessary" to spend 55 minutes of your allotted gym hour on the treadmill or the elliptical machine.
The truth is that, unless you are a genetic outlier, your chances of turning into Jennifer Walter's alter ego is virtually nil. What's more, opting for endurance exercise over strength may actually be counterproductive to your fitness goals, especially if you are looking to tone and firm.
So, why then, do so many of you opt for the low weight workout plan? It's the calories. Let's assume that you have only 1 hour, 60 minutes to left. What to do? What to do? Then you remember you heard somewhere, or read somewhere that in one hour on the treadmill you could burn between 500 and 800 calories depending on how fast you run. Or you could burn about 400 with an intense weight training session? No brainer, right? Cardio or bust.
Maybe not, when you consider the entire picture. First, there is what is called the "afterburn". This is the calories that your body burns even after the workout has stopped. This exact number varies individually, but the higher intensities lead to higher post exercise metabolic rates.
However, there is more than just the calories to consider. Strength training tells your body to burn a higher percentage of fat calories, for several hours after you finish your workout. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Colorado, 22% more fat was burned after a weight workout than after an aerobic one.
Strength also increases your BMR, basal metabolic rate, your baseline caloric expenditure, which makes weight maintenance an easier proposition.This makes sense, since your body has to work harder to rebuild and repair muscles.
Muscle strength is also a matter of life and death, according to Lou Schuler (author of "The New Rules of Lifting for Women") and many others. They cite a University of Pittsburgh study, which showed that the weakest women had more than 1.5 times the risk of death from any cause, compared to the strongest.
|Fitness model Jamie Eason|
Instead of turning you into some Hulkette, strength training will eventually burn more calories than the same time spent on the elliptical machine or treadmill. It will burn more fat and get and keep you leaner. Last, but definitely not least, strength will keep you alive longer and enhance the quality of your life.
So ladies, step off the treadmill, and start pumping some serious iron. Your hot new body awaits!