More and more women are realizing the benefits of weight training as an integral part of their fitness routine. Lifting weights is a must for the myriad of health benefits it provides, especially as women reach their 40?s and beyond.
The effects of menstruation, the peri-menopause and menopause, means that weight training becomes a vital part of every woman's fitness routine.
The benefits of lifting weights regularly are better weight management, stronger bones, improved joint movement and stability, better defined body shape and a noticeable improvement in self-confidence, mental outlook, sleep patterns, and energy levels.
What a fabulous list of benefits all derived from lifting weights.
However, while women are starting to embrace the weights, there are some common pitfalls to avoid
1. Lifting Too Light A Weight
Many women persist in believing the old myth that lifting heavy weights will make them ugly or ?beefed up? – too muscular. The vital ingredient to assist in muscle bulk is the hormone testosterone. Women simply do not have adequate levels of this hormone to produce massive bulges. Muscles when dense and strong, take up less room in your body than does fat. Regular weight training will produce dense muscle mass and this will actually give your body a better shape.
Lift moderate to heavy weights. To know what is heavy ? if you can lift a weight comfortably to 12 repetitions the weight is too light. Pick a weight that is approximately 5-8% of your body weight.
2. Too Many Repetitions
I important to lift a challenging weight that will momentarily fatigue the muscle.
This means lifting a weight that forces the body to utilize many muscles within a short repetition range.
If it becomes easy or ?comfortable? to lift a weight to 10 or 12 repetitions, the weight is too light, and light weights are ineffective in your bid to get into shape.
Aim to do 2 sets at least for each exercise with a weight that is challenging to lift correctly for no more than 12 repetitions. Once the 12 reps become comfortable to accomplish, increase the weight by about 2-5% and no more.
Avoid the urge to keep on the same weight performing dozens of repetitions for the same exercise. This scenario soon leads to a fitness plateau and eventually a drop in general fitness altogether.
3. Single?Set Programs
Weight loss and fitness gains require your body to perform multiple sets per exercise. A single-set exercise program realistically is not worth your time ? even rehabilitation clients are required on average to perform at least 3 sets per exercise. The same goes for weight loss/fitness goals.
Multiple set programs provide a more thorough workout for the muscles and soft tissue structures around your joints (ligaments, cartilage, tendons, fascia). This is important not only for losing body fat but also for cultivating and maintaining a healthy range of motion in joints, a fact that becomes more important as we age.
Multiple sets also allow the muscle fibres to grow and thicken to give you a toned, healthy look, and to provide joint stability.
Start off by using a medium weight and perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Stay with this routine for 4 weeks. By then you will need to lift a slightly heavier, more challenging weight.
4. Isolation Exercises
An isolation exercise is one where only one muscle and one joint are being worked. The Triceps Pushdown is a typical example of where one muscle (triceps is located at the posterior upper arm) is called upon to pushdown the rope handles against resistance (the cable weight).
The Biceps Curl is another example of an isolation exercise.
However when it comes to weight loss and improving overall fitness it is always a better idea to use compound exercises (lifting weights involving more than one joint and more than one muscle).
Compound movements are more efficient in burning body fat and improving body strength; they also are more time efficient. For example ? Push Ups (either on knees or on toes) strengthens the chest, abdominals, triceps and biceps, wrists, shoulders and back. Tha a lot of bang for one exercise as opposed to the triceps pushdown. More energy is required to move and control your body weight through the push up than is required for the triceps pushdown.
Keep isolation exercises for another time when you want to concentrate solely improving specific aspects of your body shape. A good time is on your cardio days ? do isolation exercises after a 30-minute cardio workout. Another way is to mix isolation exercises with a core strength session.
As we age, weight training becomes more important than cardio in maintaining well-being. Women begin losing between 2-5% muscle mass each year at aged 30. This equates to a weight gain of 500 grams each year or 5 kilos over 5 years ? even more if she leads an inactive life.
This rate of muscle loss doubles after age 60.
But muscle loss is not inevitable for women. Regular weight training sessions can actually preserve muscle mass long into the more mature years.