If you're a woman who has always secretly eyed those dumbbells but has always had someone tell you that you would "hurt yourself", "get too big", or God knows what other myths, it's time to start finding out the truth and to learn to love the iron. Ladies, you're not going to wake up huge from strength training.
If you are a man then 'What is in it for you?' Well, you might be able to give a tip or two to the women around you or encourage the ones who are dear to you. What say!
I was in "Women and Weight" seminar a long time back in Sydney. During the seminar, I took notes for one of the speakers, Mr. Paul Wright who is a Director of Get Active Physiotherapy. The intent of this article is to share my notes and discussions with you.
Women are stronger
Let's get back to the evolutionary fact; we were not born equal. For the ultimate survival of the offspring it is certainly an advantage that female and male counterparts are at least partly different. Gender difference is quiet obvious, so should women stay away from weights or should they use them. Why not? Do you know women are stronger than men when comparing lower body strength? Yes, that's true.
The upper body absolute strength for women is approximately 55% that of men. The lower body absolute strength is approx 72% of men. Men are still superior in upper body strength but women have greater strength than men in the lower body. It's based on same body weight and bone density comparisons. Since, female muscle does not differ in potential force output from male muscle tissue, the training potential and methods of training should be similar.
Females lose strength faster than males during periods of de-training. So, women need to be more consistent and committed and stop looking for "ladies strength training exercises" as there aren't any.
Can strength training increase muscle size?Yes, it does. Although, negligible. Big muscles take time and a lot of effort. It also depends on the program design and genetic factors. The female hormone Oestrogen and male hormone Testosterone play a vital role in deciding whether women would become actually become muscular or bulky.
Body Fat response to Strength Training
Nutrition is the major factor in fat loss for women. Strength training makes women become a high energy burner. It plays significant role in increasing bone density and hence keeps diseases like Osteoporosis away. It helps maximize peak bone density in early adulthood (20-30 yrs)
Programming Considerations for Females
- Use compound weight bearing exercises like a Chest Press, A lat pull down, Squats etc.
- Train to relative failure with a variety of exercises.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with 5-6 compound exercises to start with.
- 2-3 weights sessions a week will suffice – non consecutive days preferably.
- DO NOT use BodyPump as your only strength workout.
- Appreciate the importance of upper body strength in improving self concept.
So ladies, if you want to look good — and feel even better? Try strength training.
Exercise More, Lose more body fat – Do you think?
We are told that to lose more body fat, one should exercise more, after all the more regular and more often we workout the more calories and fat we burn. On the contrary, when I am training fat loss aspirants, they are training on either alternate days three times a week or only four to five times a week with significant gaps in between like training on a Monday morning then a workout on the Tuesday evening, followed by a complete rest on Wednesday. Who gets the best results, the ones who train with ample recovery intervals or the ones who train almost every day? Let's find out.
Exercise More and become the biggest Loser
It may be weird to discuss the importance of gaining plenty of rest between exercise sessions when the most famous TV show is making it's participants work out day in and day out. However once you understand why muscles need quality rest you'll be able to plan an exercise regime that will be more effective for you and your individual needs rather then attempting to lose all you can in one go, and get it all back again causing more harm than good!
Exercise More, Break More Muscle
When we exercise our muscles breakdown, tiny fragments of protein within the muscle cells shatter. The more we exercise during a workout the greater the muscle catabolism (degradation); it's one of the reasons why we actually become weaker as we progress through a particular routine. The stronger and fitter the person the slower the rate of breakdown, also the more effort we put into an exercise the faster the rate of muscle catabolism, it's the reason why we can all walk a hell of a lot further than we can run!
Exercise More, Slower Your Metabolic Rate
After any workout routine the muscles need to replace all elements lost. Both proteins and energy stores need replacement for muscles to make a full recovery. If muscles are not given enough time to recover fully before another workout is repeated then the muscles progressively become smaller. Yes, that's true. For weight or fat loss, it means a gradual decline in lean tissue, lowering the metabolism-rate at which food is changed into energy over the course of a few weeks. This could be disastrous for a person on a fat loss program because less calories are burned overall, meaning they must either lower calorie intake even further (it's suicidal, don't do that) or burn more energy through more exercise which will only exasperate the problem.
Exercise More, Recover More As Well!!!
Our muscles calorie burning potential can only help us lose fat if they are allowed to reach their fat burning potential; this is the reason why recovery between workout routines is so important. To help muscles recover, do not lower calorie intake below 1500 per day, eat a little high quality protein at most meals, get plenty of sleep, try to rest a day between hard workouts. As your fitness levels grow its possible to increase the number of training days in a week and still be able to recover within a day. This is another reason why we should all start off any routine slowly and attempt to build up gradually!
Lose weight while you sleep. It sounds like something you'd hear on a late night infomercial -- just around the time you are reaching for that bag of cookies because, well, you can't sleep.
But as wild as the idea sounds, how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.
Have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin. They are the "checks and balances" hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while Leptin sends a signal to the brain when you are full.
So what's the connection to sleep? When you don't get enough sleep, it drives Leptin levels down, which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes Ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food. The two combined can set the stage for overeating, which in turn may lead to weight gain.
In the general population, those who sleep less than eight hours a night not only have lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, but also have a higher level of body fat. Specifically, those who sleep the fewest hours per night weigh the most.
If you wake up feeling tired and continue to feel tired all day even after you slept over eight hours during the night, then it's Sleep Apnea, a medical condition which needs doctor's attention and advice.
If you get over seven hours of sleep on a particular night, you may just discover that you aren't as hungry, or that you have lessened your craving for sugary, calorie-dense foods when you wake up the following day.
How many more reasons do we need before we realize the importance of sleep in our lives? And yet, still we skimp, putting everything else in our lives first. Four hours sleep, five hours sleep, anything less than the seven to nine hours sleep we need is asking for trouble. It could lead to a loss of physical and mental health, to poor memory, poor coordination, and now, to weight gain and obesity. You simply can't cut back on sleep without paying some price.
It's time we all wake up - No! Go to sleep for a healthier and slimmer tomorrow.
is one famous running event that happens in Sydney called City to Surf. It
generally takes place in the month of August when it's time to say bye bye to
cold winters and say hello to summers. It was year 2008 when I ran (my first 14kms of a recognized running event) the 14
km on the treacherous uphill/downhill track amidst
of other enthusiasts from Sydney city to Bondi beach.
The weather wasn't warm at all, you can blame it on the climate shift we are
experiencing due to global warming. I was there sharp at 8:15 am all dressed
and hydrated after an early breakfast of high energy carbs in the morning at 6
am. I was in the group C, it's the group where first time serious runners are
placed. Group A and B are for runners who have completed the run in less than
75 minutes the year before and in less than 120 minutes respectively. I had
roughly 200 persons ahead of me and almost three times the number behind me at
8:30 am on College Street in Sydney. We were all standing close enough to keep
us warm in the chilly wind. Then it was time. The gun shot was loud and there
went the Group A, running, screaming. Exactly five minutes later it was Group
B's turn to go and time for us to throw our warm clothes where ever we can find
place to give away in Charity. I found a nice place atop the bus stop roof
along with significant others.
Then the Gun shot came for us to start. All of a sudden we started walking; I
tell you I had to make no effort whatsoever to move in the first five minutes,
the crowd was taking good care of that. Then all of a sudden there was enough
space ahead of me to start running, I was about to sprint when I had to come to
a sudden halt to allow a lady with a pram to move out of the crowd to take the
pavement. I thought wow, moms are quiet active here. Then I made a start again,
this time following a guy making his way through the crowd begging for excuses,
saying sorry and coughing at times. That’s what even I picked up when I lost
him in the crowd. It was around 10 minutes into running when I found myself
overtaking runners from the Group B. I was quiet elated to find that out. And
almost that’s when I had a sudden sensation to Wee. Phew, my whole intention
changed from completing the run to relieving myself. I was lucky to find the
first make shift loo where others like me had lined up. It took me almost five
minutes including everything. Well, almost. After that all I can remember was,
I started running again.
time within 5 minutes, I hit quiet a decent uphill where I found a lot of
people slowing down. Even I slowed down a couple of times to catch my breath. I
overtook quiet a number of people running, walking and even got a few water splashes
from the crowd standing on both sides of the road, cheering us up. A few of
them were even having a barbeque by the roadside, quiet to the envy of us
runners. The moment my legs told me, it’s too much to do uphill, there was a
slight curve ahead where I thought I would slow down, I gave my best push and
got there in no time to find there was a curving downhill. Excited, I let
myself go as that’s something I always enjoyed, to give my legs an ample
recovery and gain speed. I took to the pavement where there were only a few runners
and overtook quiet a lot of runners. Then came a flat patch, which was quiet
interesting, I found I was real slow because I saw a few young girls speeding
away. It was 45 minutes into the run and I was almost devastated when I found a
big uphill right in front of me. It’s the notorious break back hill. What to
say, it felt I was running, when I saw a guy walking past by me. That’s when it
dawned on me to change the tactic and run on my toes, leaning forward and there
I was in the race again. The uphill ended quickly and then again came the
curving combination of uphill and downhill.
ran as if I was running for my life, it had been good 60 minutes into running,
something I had never done before and still I wasn’t sure when it was supposed
to end. I kept reminding myself, it’s going to end very soon and I got to do it
in good time, so don’t give up. I checked my heart rate, it was 146 and I was
glad I was able to talk out loud. And then I could see the sea, the Pacific Ocean
on the shores of Bondi beach welcoming me to the finishing line. I raised my arms
up while running to pose for some pictures, though I never bought them from the
camera men. You can have a look at them if you like by clicking here. The guy with Bib# 33880 is me at the finish line.
completed the run in 77 minutes 13 seconds which had got me into the Group B
now to compete with significant others. Only if I had not stopped to wee, I
would have been in the Group A. Well, then that’s lesson learnt, always wee 5
minutes before you hit the running circuit. I was quiet happy at the end of it
to find out that I had beat the time of all of my clients and other fellow
personal trainers at the Definition Health Club. Later we found that one guy
even died due to cardiac arrest. The doctors told that his heart couldn’t
endure the challenge he had put himself to.
Guys, if you want to
run long kilometres, always ensure you keep a check on your heart. The best way
to check this out is to utter a few words out loud and you should be able to
hear them without a break. Rest, practice and practice right. Long runs are
quiet demanding and put a lot of pressure on our vital body systems, so
pre-conditioning is very, very important.
In my career as a personal trainer, I have found that one of the biggest
hurdles is to bring about a CHANGE
that lasts through our life, a change that actually reverses what all damages we
have been doing to ourselves. Take a good look at the mirror or if you think
it’s not you, then take a good look at others around you. Most of those who
achieve fat loss get it back. Most of who give up certain things, take them up
again, and many seem to juggle between being a couch potato and a person training frantically in the gym.
How painful that can be is hard to imagine. We all want to look
different forever, we all want to look our best, but if you look at the
statistics very few of us create it. Not because they can't, just because they
won't. Wouldn’t it be phenomenal if we bring about a change in our life, which
lasts forever, for the rest of our lives? There are individuals who train
themselves like crazy to get faster results. They go on diets, try and do every
extreme thing that would get them achieve their goals as quickly as possible.
And guess what when they end up doing such an extremist training they sulk into
gloom, frustration and disappointment. What happened to the participants who
lost heaps in the Biggest Loser Challenge? How many of them have been able to
sustain the change which their personal trainers brought for them by making
them workout hard, eat well or probably by observing abstinence. What a waste
of life, isn’t it?
Let me ask you this, do you know how
you should successfully keep and endure the change? Do you know what wouldn’t
work? Wouldn’t it help if you know where you make mistakes? Your heart filled
with emotions made you take your first step. Getting started on the journey is commendable
but what are your plans, what’s your approach? Most people fail because their
heart gives them a start but the failure to plan leads them to eventually plan
for failure. Motivation goes down and the vicious circle continues.
We can work to bring about changes that last in our lives forever provided
we take one little step at a time. In my career, I have discovered that the
short term goal approach has successfully got my clients to rediscover,
reactivate and rejuvenate themselves to endure and sustain change for the rest
of their lives. The best part of working for such short periods is that it
creates a competition like situation, you know what you are doing, you know
what you are going to achieve, where you would be in say four weeks and hence
you are focussed. Your short term achievement overpowers you emotionally and in
the end, a chronicle of such short term goals leads to getting pieces for the
big picture together.
I sit down with my clients to set short term goals for them. At the end
of each short term goal, achieved in 4-6 weeks, I assess their progress, we
celebrate our achievement, talk, set some new goals for the next term and off
we go again. In my experience it works because it's measurable, specific and
realistic and to top it all, it gives a sense of achievement. It’s like
building your dream house on an island through investment made in instalments
with a blue print attached. We hence get everlasting results without even
focussing on it.
Let’s set Specific,
Measurable, Achievable, Realistic
and Timed Goals and get set to achieve them.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Though active people typically pay close attention to their fitness regimen (proper cardiovascular workout, strength training and stretching) they may be making crucial mistakes in their diet. Not putting the right nutrients in your body could ultimately affect the overall fitness benefits of an active lifestyle. What follows are the nutrition mistakes commonly made by active people:
1. Skipping Breakfast: Most experts agree that if you skip breakfast, you'll make up for it later in the day with more calories. You may be hungrier later, and it will become difficult to control how much you eat. You don't need a huge breakfast, but a light balanced breakfast can give you the right energy to start the day, especially for morning exercisers.
2. Not Eating before a Workout: You will get more out of your exercise session by having the right fuel on board. A good pre-workout meal should have carbohydrates, protein and a little or no fat. You won't want a heavy meal before a workout, but a balanced light meal will provide what your body needs for energy and to build and tone muscles.
3. Waiting Too Long After Exercise to Eat: Eating after your workout is as important as fuelling it beforehand. A small meal of protein and carbs within two hours of your exercise session will give your body what it needs to build and repair muscles and the blood vessels that supply them.
4. Replacing Meals with Energy Bars or Replacement Drinks: There is no substitute for whole foods. Your body needs the wide variety of phytonutrients and fibre found in real fruits and vegetables and whole grains. No "meal replacement" bars or drinks provide the variety that nature does. Use these convenience foods when necessary, but make it your steady habit to eat real food. Try mixing your own trail mix from dried fruits and nuts vs. having them processed and pressed into a bar.
5. Eating Too Much Protein and Not Enough Carbs: Trying to fuel your workout with poultry instead of pasta? You may love your low-carb diet, but carbohydrates are what you body needs for an effective workout. Give your body some carbs before your exercise session, and for endurance events such as long walks, make your snack carbohydrate based, such as trail mix.
6. Trusting Dietary Supplements Labels and Claims: You are reading marketing on the label, not research findings. The supplement industry is largely unregulated. Manufacturers can make many claims that would not be allowed for regulated drugs. Do your homework before putting anything into your body. You really don't need to be your own laboratory rat.
7. Consuming Too Many or Too Few Calories for Your Activity: You need to eat to fuel your body for your active lifestyle. But you probably fear eating too much so that weight control becomes a challenge. Eating 2 times or less during the day sets the body in famine mode and stores energy as fat. So it’s better to keep the metabolism kicked up during the day by eating small quantities more often rather than stuffing up in one go.
8. Believing That You Can Eat Whatever You Want if You Exercise: Many people exercise to lose weight but soon find that they need to track what they eat if they want to see weight loss. It is very easy to make up for calories burned with a single extra "treat" after your workout. Find healthy, balanced light meals and snacks relying on whole foods whenever possible.
9. Not Drinking the Right Amount of Fluids: Dehydration can be a serious problem, especially if you exercise in hot, humid environments. Drinking fluids before, during and after exercise will help you maintain adequate hydration levels. Don't rely on the wisdom to let thirst to be your guide. Be ready to "Drink whenever and where ever."
10. Jumping on the Latest Diet Craze to get an "Edge": It's tempting to believe there is some magic formula out there that will dramatically improve our performance or weight loss, but the best approach is to stick to the basics and follow a healthy, balanced diet.