Weight training for women

Raphael Calzadilla,

So often in life we develop a very narrow perspective on things. We look at certain topics with conviction, and believe our thoughts to be absolutely true. However, I’ve found that in so many cases in our lives, just a bit of knowledge or a slight shift in perspective can spell the difference between euphoria versus ongoing frustration.

I want you to do something while you read this article. As you read through it - don’t judge it. Simply read and digest the words and completely attempt to understand the concepts. Throw out any pre-conceived notions or ideas you have and let’s really take a close look at the value of weight training for women.

I can’t even begin to count the number of female clients who’ve said to me, “Raphael, let’s be careful with weight training because I don’t want to get bulky looking - I don’t want to look like a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Do you know what bulk is? Bulk is simply excessive body fat that sits on top of muscle. A lot of guys like to get a bit of bulk because it makes them feel bigger and stronger. They’re willing to put up with some elevated body fat to look thick and dense. However, I’ve never met a woman who had this as a goal.

If the person with bulk loses body fat, they end up looking lean and tight. What’s making them look lean and tight? Less body fat combined with the muscle they built. So, now we know that bulk is primarily related to fat on top of muscle.

Your goal is to lose fat - so weight training obviously has merit, and bulk is not an issue. Let me spell it out again so it’s perfectly clear - you will not have a bulky look if you lift weights and reduce body fat levels.

Now let’s take a look at male versus female hormones. The hormone responsible for gaining significant amounts of muscle is testosterone. However, women have approximately one-third the testosterone of men and based on nature, a predominance of oestrogen. So, unless she’s on anabolic steroids or growth hormones, she won’t get muscles as big as a man and certainly not as big as Arnie.

There may be some naturally muscular women with large bone structures that train like bodybuilders who attain more muscle than the average woman, but even that would require intense and very heavy weight training on an ongoing basis. It’s nothing for you to worry about, no matter what your genetic structure, because you’re not going to work out like that.

To add some fuel to the points above, it’s a perfect time to tell you that for every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns 30-50 additional calories per day. Muscle actually stimulates the metabolism. Put simply, weight training can help to improve your ability to burn calories!

In addition, when we lift weights with sufficient overload, we create micro trauma to the muscle. During rest and recovery the muscle repairs and becomes stronger.

During this process of muscle repair, the body produces human growth hormone. Here’s where part of the magic happens. Human growth hormone must pull from stored body fat to help repair the damaged muscle. What does that mean to you? Less body fat!

At this point, it’s important to emphasise that the key to a lean body is a combination of a nutrition program that places you in a slight caloric deficit (less than maintenance); brisk weight training to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories. They all work together to create the lean look.

In most cases, if someone isn’t losing body fat then I can always point to one of the above areas. Either less than adequate dietary habits and/or a lack of sufficient calorie burning exercise (weights and cardio) is always the culprit. So now that you’re armed with the above truth and dispelled myths, how does one use weights as a tool for fat loss?

The following are weight training guidelines that will help build lean muscle and burn fat:

• Work out two to three days per week on alternate days of the week.

• Keep workout time to approximately 30 minutes.

• Lift a weight that’s heavy enough to perform 10-12 repetitions for the upper body, but no more than that - the weight needs to be challenging.

• Lift a weight that’s heavy enough to perform 12-20 repetitions for the lower body. I’ve found that women respond well to higher reps (but not too high) with the lower body.

• Take no more than 45 seconds to one minute between sets.

• Choose exercises for the entire body to create balance and symmetry (legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abdominals).

• Beginners can perform one to two sets per muscle group, intermediates two to three sets and advanced three to four sets.

• The body will adapt to any routine within four to six weeks, so change the exercises and workout parameters every three weeks or so.

• Focus on precise form to isolate a muscle and to avoid injury.

• Every few weeks, try to add five percent more weight to your exercises. The overload will make you stronger and create more muscle, which in turn burns fat.

Remember that reduced body fat through proper nutrition, weight training and cardiovascular exercise is your ticket to success.

Try it and see - you won't turn into the incredible bulk!

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.


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