Be Strong with Strength Training

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Weight trainingWhy do Strength (Muscle) Training?

Muscle Training is what we do to tone and build muscle tissue. You can do muscle or strength training by lifting weights, using resistance bands, or using your own body weight.

I know a lot of my readers are now shouting “Stop right there! I don’t want to build up my muscles. I don’t want to look like a man. I’m happy being a woman!” Relax … so am I. There are a lot of women who avoid muscle training because of the common misconception that it will give them bulky masculine-looking muscles. They focus on cardio only.

Let me ask you this: Do you want to lose fat? Do you want a slim, toned figure? The truth is, strength training is crucial in order to attain both those goals.

Muscle tissue uses up more energy in the body than fat. In other words, a woman with a little more conditioned muscle will have a higher metabolic rate and burn more calories (and therefore stay slimmer) than a woman with less conditioned muscle. So if you want to lose or maintain healthy weight, including strength training in your fitness regimen is vital!  You will build lean, toned muscles that accentuate your shape AND femininity.

 How much Muscle Training is enough?

The amount of reps (repetitions) for each muscle exercise is usually recommended to be anywhere between 10 and 15.  If you can do 15 reps easily without straining, increase the weight/resistance until it’s challenging again. If 10 reps is too hard to complete, don’t chastise yourself or give up completely. Calmly decrease weight/resistance until you can complete the set, and your last two reps feel challenging but able to be done. I recommend two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps to keep your body toned.

Should I do Muscle Training every day?

Let me tell you one difference between cardio and muscle training. While you can do cardio exercise every day if you want to, you should take 48 hours of rest between strength training workouts. That extra time gives your muscles a chance to rebuild and fully adapt to the stress you’ve put on them.

You can do one of two things. You can concentrate on strength training every other day. Or, you can target different muscles every day. For example, one day you may focus on your upper body and abs, and the following day you would do your legs and back. You should do two to four strength training sessions a week.

Keep it Balanced

As you do muscle training, it’s important to balance your body by exercising opposing muscle groups. For example, if you work out your abs, focus on your lower back. If you work out front of legs (quads), then also train the back of your legs (hamstrings). The opposing muscles for the biceps are the triceps; and for the chest (pecs) it’s your upper back (lats).

This is important in order to make your body look symmetrical, and also to prevent future injuries and joint problems. It also helps to break the boredom that may creep in once you get into your new workout regime. Building certain muscles gives an illusion of symmetry, so building your calf muscles for example will make the legs look slimmer at the thighs.

Don’t be afraid to try it

Muscle training doesn’t have to be a big deal. Nor does it have to be daunting. Some women walk into a gym, see rows and rows of scary-looking equipment, throw up their hands, scream, and run a mile. You do not need to use all the complicated, intimidating-looking machines you see at the gym. It is quite enough to tone your muscles by using light dumb-bells, resistance bands, or even your own body weight. If you don’t have time to spend at the gym with all the fancy equipment, don’t despair; work out at home.  If you do want to use weight machines at the gym, try out any of them to see which ones you like. Most machines at the gym have instructions on how to use them and the muscle groups they target, but always consult a professional trainer when you try a machine out for the first time. You may be doing more damage than good if you improperly use a weight machine.

 

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