Resistance training is possibly the best genre of exercise you can partake in to achieve the goals you seek to achieve. Whether you want to get stronger, leaner, more flexible, faster, have more lean mass, jump higher or simply just feel better, physically, emotionally and psychologically…..some form of resistance training can get you there. But there are a few fallacies about resistance training, especially about women, that need to straightened out. Let’s start with the concern that I hear the most….
My job is interact with clients, know there needs and wants, understand why they want to get to said needs and wants and instruct them on how to get there, as safely and efficiently as possible. Now, obviously there are a few more steps in there that could be elaborated on further (if only it were that easy), but my point is simply that before I can begin training somebody, I have to know what they plan on getting out of it and let them understand that I can get them there. So, without stating the obvious, I talk to a lot of women, especially after the holidays, that want to get in shape for the new year. Here is how a typical conversation goes:
ME: “So I hear you say that you want to get back in shape, but, physically, what exactly would you like to achieve in the process?”
WOMEN: “I want to lose 15lbs, tone up and don’t really want to get all muscly.”
……OK, once again, maybe a little more elaborate, but the point is there….the third goal is the one we are trying to understand. The problem is women see guys lifting heavy weights, grunting, screaming and yelling, and getting bigger and bulkier. Hopefully, with proper diet, this is what happens to a guy, because the point of resistance training is hypertrophy. But for a women, at least most of them, they’re not trying to be the
next Ms. Olympia, so the thought of being that big is a pretty big turn off. Here’s where we have to understand a few things about physiology. You see, when you do resistance training, your body releases hormones. One of those hormones, testosterone, promotes hypertrophy (muscle growth). The level of testosterone in women is about 10% of the level found in men. So the important thing to understand here is that women do not produce enough testosterone naturally to gain massive amounts of muscle. Yes, women will put on muscle during any well developed training regimen, which should be the goal, but certainly not to the extant that men will.
Let’s switch gears and talk about exercise form. True strength developing exercises can be hard to perform, and, for some, to get the most out of them they have to be done will heavy weights. First, what do I consider a true strength developing exercise? Well obviously any exercise can develop some sort of strength: curls will make your biceps stronger, calf raises will make your calves stronger, front dumbbell raises will make your anterior delts stronger. But these exercises are not very “bang for your buck” when it comes to developing true strength. Here’s a short list:
I’m not going to sit and list every variation of each, but, again, you get the point. Any time you are choosing to implement one of those movements into your program, the first
thing you need to do is learn how to perform it properly. Injuries happen when form is compromised. If your knees bother you when you squat, you’re probably squatting wrong. Back bother you when you deadlift? Wrong again. Shoulders hurt when you bench? Don’t flair your elbows. Do it right and all will be well. There is no sense in working hard to strength gains and either getting injured in the end your not gaining all the benefits from the beginning because of not performing the move properly.
Always keep in mind that what is considered general knowledge about fitness may not always be true. Check your facts and then check again. You want to make sure you’re not getting information and doing things they may be unnecessary. Your local GNC representative, for example, will suggest you take 10 different supplements before your workout….for the sake of making a sale. Learn how to sift through the BS.