Dan Massey, Personal Trainer at Optimal Fitness.
“I don’t want to do weights training as I don’t want to put on loads of muscle and get really bulky, I just want to tone up.”
As a personal trainer, this is probably the most common statement I hear when speaking to females who are looking to start personal training for the first time.
Firstly, unless you plan on taking steroids, have highly unusual genetics or you are planning on lifting 6 days a week through some very long and gruelling sessions, this will definitely not happen!
The main reason behind this is that women have around 1/15th to 1/20th (1) of the testosterone levels of men, testosterone being the main hormone responsible for muscle growth. Therefore, it’s basically impossible to get a huge, bulky physique without a training and nutrition plan designed specifically for body-building.
“So, why should I lift weight”?
Whether you are looking to lose weight or simply looking to achieve a leaner physique, you may think cardio style training such as running on the treadmill or spending half an hour on the cross trainer is the best way to burn calories. This is simply not the case. While cardio training is vitally important for improving your overall fitness levels, the addition of resistance training will help you to build new, lean muscle (2). This muscle is the key to improving your metabolism and burning off more calories and ultimately more body fat. The stronger your muscles become, the faster your metabolism will work for you and the more calories you will burn off in general day-to-day life. Along with weight loss, resistance training has so many more proven benefits such as:
· Increased bone density.
· Improved balance, coordination and mobility.
· Improved sleep patterns.
· Improvements in mood, anxiety and stress levels.
“So what type of weights training should I be doing?”
Another great question!
With weights training there are two main methods to consider: compound exercises and isolation exercises. Compound exercises work using two joints and multiple muscles; a squat is a great example of a compound exercise as it moves through the hip and knee. Whereas isolation exercises are generally used for single muscles by flexing or extending a single joint, for example a bicep curl.
In order to really fire the metabolism, we need to be working through the larger muscle groups with the compound lifts, these include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses and barbell rows, to name just a few (3).
Isolation exercises are best kept toward the end of a weights training session after the main lifts have been completed and can be used to specifically target areas that you may want to tone and sculpt.
I hope you found this information useful. If you would like to start adding some weights training to your current exercise routine or have any questions about how weights training can help you achieve your goals, please feel free to contact me or any of the Optimal staff for more information. Happy lifting!
Personal trainer, Optimal fitness.
1. Handelsman, D. J., Hirschberg, A. L., & Bermon, S. (2018). Circulating Testosterone as the Hormonal Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance. Endocrine reviews, 39(5), 803–829. https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2018-00020
3. Strasser, B., & Schobersberger, W. (2011). Evidence for resistance training as a treatment therapy in obesity. Journal of obesity, 2011, 482564. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/482564