Written by Maggie Ayre.
What do you think of when you hear the term “strength training”? Do you imagine bicep bulging body builders with necks as thick as tree trucks? Or do you imagine slim, toned and sexy women with well-defined waist lines and nicely toned arms? Well, they are both the result of strength training and what’s more both the man and the woman have achieved their body shape using high intensity strength training. So why do they look so different? The answer is testosterone – men have it in huge quantities, women have hardly any at all.
I guarantee that NO WOMAN could end up looking like a body builder without a specialist training programme and diet designed to make them look like a body builder, and even then female body builders are never as bulky as male ones.However, I also guarantee that if you do strength training you will:-
♦Increase your energy levels
♦Raise your metabolism
♦Reshape your body.
So what is strength training?
Strength training is defined as “any form of exercise that forces your muscles to work harder than they are used to in order to improve or increase the lean muscle in your body.” What does that mean? It means that any exercise that stresses the muscles is strength training. This could be bodyweight exercises, free weights or resistance machines at the gym. The important thing is that you are working at a level that will work your muscles harder than they are used to.
Does it require lots of expensive equipment?
The answer is no. When you first start a strength training programme the only equipment you need is your body! You may wish to buy some dumbbells or a stability ball to add variety and intensity as you become more proficient but it simply isn’t necessary to purchase lots of expensive equipment when you have a 60-80kg body all ready for the purpose! Push ups and Body weight squats are just two examples of exercises that can be performed with no equipment.
How do you Stress the Muscles?
Your choice of exercise will determine how much you stress the muscles. You should look to perform 8-12 repetitions of the exercise with the last 2 or 3 repetitions being fairly hard work (although not so hard that you can’t maintain good form).You can increase the intensity in two ways; either progressing to a harder exercise or increasing the weight if you are using them.Every bodyweight exercise has progressions which enable you to slowly increase the intensity as you become stronger. For example, you may start off by performing push ups on a high incline surface (ie hands on a wall, back of a chair etc), progressing to place your hands on the seat of the chair and onto the floor and then taking it another step further and raising your feet onto a bench or step. Many women dismiss strength training because they are worried they will end up looking like a bodybuilder or because they find the weights section of the gym intimidating. The benefits are too numerous to ignore this very valuable part of your exercise regime, which can very easily be done in the comfort of your own home. Strength training will work, challenge and improve your muscles leading to a stronger, energized and re-shaped body. What’s more building muscle will boost your metabolism which will enable you to burn calories even whilst you are asleep!I encourage you to try strength training and reap the benefits!
Maggie Ayre has her own Personal Training Company for adults www.seabreezefitness.co.uk she also runs successful exercise and nutrition sessions for teenage girls and is seen as a leader in her field; making it fun and cool to be fit and healthy www.maggieayre.com.