Ladies…Don’t be Afraid of Lifting Weights

If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to be big and muscular”, I would be a rich woman! I’m here to tell you that you will NOT get big by lifting weights.

Have you ever said this?

“I get bulky when I lift weights.” Or “I need to lose weight so I only focus on cardiovascular exercises.” Or “Lifting weights is for bodybuilders.”

At one time I thought that too. But as I have learned more about exercise and the many different types there are to benefit your body, weight training is one of the key workouts that will help you burn fat and stay lean. The more muscle you put on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. Meaning that, while you are not exercising, your body burns more calories. Plus, the more muscle you have, the less fat you have on your body.

You do not have to lift heavy weights and you do not need to lift weights everyday, but incorporating weight training a few times a week is essential to a fit lifestyle. And the great part about weight training is that you will never get bored. You can try weight machines, dumbbells, kettle bells, barbells with weights, or you can simply use your own body weight. If you are intimidated by weight lifting, have a personal trainer show you some simple exercises you can add to your regimen. Or try a weight training class. Our gym offers Body Pump, which is a full body workout with weights. And you control the amount of weight you want to use.

I like to work on different muscle groups throughout the week. I will do a short 20-30 minute weight routine after my cardio session so I can concentrate on 1-2 muscle groups. It’s best to work out larger muscle groups first, because you can lift the heaviest weights and get an overall harder workout. Start with back and shoulders or chest and back.

Back – overhand pull ups, wide grip pull downs, seated cable rows, bench rows
Chest – bench press, incline bench press, chest fly, cable fly, push ups (on floor or elevated surface)
Shoulders – overhead press with dumbbells, upright rows, lateral raises

You can work on your biceps and triceps on the same day because they are a smaller muscle group and fatigue easier. Try bicep curls, preacher curls, alternating concentration curls for biceps and cable press, overhead press, chair dips and push ups for triceps.

Do this workout for 2-3 weeks then switch it up. Try back and biceps together and chest and triceps together.

But ladies, I implore you, do not use the 3 and 5 pound dumbbells (unless you have never lifted a weight ever). When you are performing 10-15 reps of an exercise, the last few should be difficult. If you get to 15 reps and are not straining, up your weight!

When I trained for my figure competitions, I was lifting heavier than I ever had in the past. And I got leaner than I have ever been. So I’m here to tell you that lifting weights does not make you bigger. It makes you stronger!

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have!

When It Comes to Exercise, Variety is Key!

If you’re just starting an exercise program, trying to lose a significant amount of weight, or just trying to get rid of those last few stubborn pounds…the solution is the same. You need variety in your workouts.

There are 3 types of cardio:

Steady state (also called fat burning or low heart rate) – This is where you exercise at a low intensity with the purpose of burning your fat stores. This is best done first thing in the morning before you have eaten. Depending on your age and resting heart rate, you can determine your “fat burning target zone”. My heart rate has to stay between 125 and 135.

Interval training – the fastest and most effective way to burn calories. This is also the best cardio for what experts call the “afterburn”. Meaning your body continues to burn calories after you have finished exercising. Interval training consists of a 5-10 minute warm up, 20-30 minute interval workout, and a 5-10 minute cool down. You can do this on the elliptical, step mill, treadmill, or bike. The goal is to go hard for a short period of time, then recover for the same amount of time (or just a bit longer). I have done sprints on the treadmill, running as fast as I can for 1 minute, then recovering at a jog pace for 2 minutes. I have also used the elliptical machine for interval workouts, going hard for 1 minute, recovering for 1 minute. You can also do shorter bursts of intensity – go hard for 30 seconds, recover for 1 minute. Pick the machine that works best for you. And remember, this is not supposed to be easy. I am usually out of breath by the end of my intervals. I suggest doing interval workouts twice a week. Although they are key for torching calories, they require the most recovery. So alternate interval workouts with steady state cardio.

Medium intensity – basically a cardio workout in between steady state and interval training. You need to get your heart rate up, but not as high as interval training. When I need medium intensity cardio, I usually run outside or on the treadmill or use the step mill. I can increase the speed if I need to, but I can also back off if the workout is getting too intense.

It is also important to vary your workouts week to week and month to month. If you do the same cardio and weight routines week after week, your body gets conditioned to those exercises. You need to switch it up because the more variety you incorporate into your workouts, the more you can challenge your body. Different exercises work different muscle groups and it’s important to use them all. If you’ve never tried Spin or Zumba, give them a whirl. You’ll be amazed when you are sore in places you aren’t accustomed to!