Many women today are taking a page from Madonna’s book and are aiming to be healthy and strong even into their 50s and beyond. The skinny look, so aspired to and promoted by fashion media in the last two decades of the 1900s, is now, justifiably, considered unhealthy.
Never has weight training been so popular among women than in this century. Weight training, once perceived by women to result in chunky muscle development, is now being understood better by women. Weight training is highly beneficial in that it:
- improves metabolism
- burns more calories
- improves posture
- strengthens bones
- reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes
- improves mental cognition
Exercises such as Pilates and yoga have become popular because they help to strengthen core muscles and improve balance and stability. But in order for this to happen, regular exercise that incorporates a high percentage of weight training (at least 50% of your work out time), needs to become part of your lifestyle.
It’s shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but should become as much a part of your daily routine as showering and brushing your teeth. And that’s the key to weight training – consistency. By adding weight training to your schedule on ideally three days a week, you’ll gradually build stronger muscle, ligaments, tendons and bones. And anything built gradually is longer lasting.
Here are some useful weight-training tips for women tips:
Aim for three times a week
Twice a week will offer some benefits, and one is better than nothing but isn't going to do much good. By contrast, more than three is not likely to give you enough time to recover in between workouts, which is when the strengthening of your muscles is happening.
Choose free weights over machines
Machines often work one or two muscles at time, whereas free-weights work more muscles by including stability muscles. So you get more overall muscle workout in the same time. They’re not only for men. Don’t be afraid of them!
Increase weight over time
Let the number of repetitions dictate how much weight you start with. Pick a weight that you can definitely lift eight, maybe 10, but definitely not 12 times. Ideally, you'd increase that weight a little every time you do the routine, but since most weights come in 2.5kg increments, try this: Do 10 reps in a set of three the first time, then 11, then 12, and once you're doing three sets of 12, increase the weight and go back to 10 reps per set.
Don’t ignore your abs
Your core muscles are essential for strength, stability and posture. But don’t only do traditional ab exercises, incorporate crunches on an inflatable ball (Swiss Ball) and ‘the plank’, where you hold your body straight in a modified push-up position, propping yourself on toes and forearms.
Hold your form
Try and make your last rep look just like your first. Losing form is usually counter-productive. Rather do fewer reps if you’re starting to lose form and readjust your weight to a lighter one.
You won’t get huge!
It's not even easy even for men to get huge. And because of women’s lower levels of testosterone, it's definitely not going to happen. Just keep focusing on getting strong. Because it’s true – strong is the new skinny.