Monday, May 2, 2016

The Beauty of Lifting Heavy Weights

Again and again, research has shown that women who maintain a regular, moderate strength training program benefit from a long list of health advantages. Some still fear that weight training might bulk them up in unfeminine ways; however, as women of all ages realize the benefits of resistance training, negative attitudes about women in the weight training room are rapidly fading.  “Lifting weights is excellent for improving bone density, joint mobility and body composition, and relieving anxiety and depression”

Strength training doesn’t have to mean bodybuilding, and it’s certainly not just for men; weights have significant health benefits for women. Don’t worry – you won’t end up looking like Arnold! Women generally have too much estrogen in their bodies to build large amounts of bulk.
Because women naturally have less muscle mass than men, strength training can help make everyday activities easier, such as picking up the kids, carrying groceries, or working on household projects. Resistance training can also be a helpful complement to a fat loss program. Combined with cardio, resistance training can help reduce body fat and leave you more toned and fit-looking, and some studies have shown that weight lifting can increase metabolism following a workout.

What are the benefits of strength training?
Strength training is the fastest way to improve muscle strength and endurance. The increase in muscle strength and endurance allows a person to perform everyday tasks with less effort and for longer periods of time. Many changes in muscle tissue that are associated with age are caused by disuse. Simply forcing the muscles to work on a regular basis significantly improves their capacity to do work. Resistance training can also improve circulation, coordination, balance, bone and ligament strength.

Is it safe for a woman to participate in strength training?
Some misconceptions associated with weight training are that women would produce bulging muscles and/or they would seriously injure themselves lifting weights. It is very difficult for a woman to produce large muscles due to the fact that women generally have high levels of the hormone estrogen. The fact is improvements are made in muscle tone, strength and endurance and not necessarily in size. As muscles become toned, the body begins to lose fat tissue and becomes more firm. When it comes to strength training, anything that is considered a healthy practice for men is also healthy for women.

Is it necessary to stretch before and after performing free weight exercises?
Yes, stretching before exercise prepares the joints for motion, helps avoid injury and increases the range of motion of the area being stretched. After exercise stretching reduces soreness, helps to prevent muscle cramping and increases the range of motion. When stretching it is important to remember to stretch until you feel a slight tension and hold for 10-20 seconds. Do NOT bounce. Never stretch until it hurts and stay relaxed throughout the stretch. Aerobic exercise and stretching should be performed first followed by resistance training participation. Trained professionals should demonstrate proper form and technique of each exercise before participation is encouraged.

Techniques for Strength Training
  • Proper body alignment is an important component of strength training. When standing, feet should be shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent. Movement should be slow and controlled. At the beginning of lift, use the 4 count system with a pause and then return to starting position.
  • Proper breathing techniques are essential when training. Never hold your breath. Inhale at the beginning of the lift and exhale during the release of each weight.
  • You may sit or stand while participating in resistance training. Never use a resistance that is so heavy that it cannot be lifted at least eight repetitions per set. Heavy resistance can be dangerous and damage the skeletal and joint structures.
  • It is recommended that every set consist of 8 to 12 repetitions per set. As the training effect occurs, achieve an overload initially by increasing the number of repetitions, and then, by increasing the free weights.
  • Limit each workout to one to two sets of these six different exercises. Make sure that all the major muscle groups are included in the training session.
  • Don't over-train. Two strength-training sessions per week are the minimum number to produce positive physiological adaptations.

Again, for the safest, most effective program, you should seek the advice of a certified fitness professional. We at YFC ( Your Fitness Club ) will always trust in science and no nonsense. LIVE FIT !

-Dhruv Mandlik
(YFC - Fitness Counsellor)

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