It has been a long time fear of many women (not all) that including weight training into their exercise program will result in them looking masculine or bulky. In reality it is quite the contrary. Trust me ladies, (and gents) I wish it was as easy as one might think for a woman to build muscle through weight training. As a figure competitor (a division of the large umbrella more known as bodybuilding) putting on muscle is the main focus of my training, and it has not been easy. Using myself as an example I have been weight training for over five years now, and continue to work to improve the shape and size of my physique. As women it is just not possible to build muscle mass naturally like a man. Our bodies do not produce the levels of testosterone as men, so the result from weight training is not the same. The true story is that weight training can help you build and maintain bone strength, lose weight, burn fat, change your shape creating those sexy curves you might be after, and improve your overall fitness level too.
Many women spend countless hours on cardio machines hoping to make changes in their physique. Don’t get me wrong, cardio machines and cardio in general has its place in a balanced fitness program. BUT it will only provide so much; it can never replace a well-balanced weight trainingprogram.
How does building muscle improve your fitness results?
Training your muscles helps burn fat, so in creating more muscle your are increasing this fat burning potential. As well building muscle can create and change the shape of your body, such as creating shape in your arms, back, legs and glutes. Cardio alone will never do this. At the same time your metabolism increases, which is a huge factor in fat loss. Ask yourself these questions to determine if you have an efficient metabolism.
- When I wake up in the morning, am I hungry for breakfast?
- After I have a meal, do I feel hungry about 3 hours later?
- Do I have energy during my workouts and during my workday?
If you are answering no to these questions, you may have a slow or non efficient metabolism. Eating consistently (every 3 hours), getting enough sleep and regular physical activity including weight training will help improve your metabolism.
There are four key factors in a persons ability to build muscle.
This is one factor that we cannot do anything about. Some people just have a better ability to build muscle. This is determined by their genetics passed on to them from their parents. Keep in mind, genetics does not a perfect body make. Hard work along with the proper training, nutrition and consistency are required too.
A properly designed weight training program completed with intensity and followed with consistency should provide visible results in 12 weeks. Smaller changes and results can be seen throughout the completion of the program. Typically around week 4 for example increased energy levels and a more rested sleep. At week 8 you might see a change in shape and the weight you are lifting increasing. By the end of the 12 weeks you will see visible change in your body and have mastered the movements and exercises on your program. A balanced weight training program will work all muscle groups, it may be machine based for a novice client or include free weights such as dumbbells, barbells and cable machines.
A weight training program requires proper nutrition for adequate energy during workouts, as well as recovery from the work you put in the gym. This should be different and specific to each women when she starts a weight training program. In general your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) will be important. All three are required in the right amounts to get you the results you want and build muscle. Consult a Registered Dietitian to be sure your nutrition plan is exactly right for you.
Consistency and Time
This is where it all comes together. Improved nutrition for a couple weeks, started, stopped and restarted training programs will not provide results within 12 weeks. It is so important to be committed to your training program and avoid the ‘restart’. Stay the course and be consistent with your training and nutrition program. This is the only way your body will learn, adapt and most importantly change! It can be frustrating at first because when starting a weight training program your body is sore and tiered. It can be hard to be patient for results of all your hard work. Trust me, they will come! Investing in a Certified Personal Trainer and Registered Dietitian will maximize your results and provide motivation and support.
So ladies, if you have been working hard in the gym with cardio based training programs and you are not seeing the results and changes you want, adding in some weight training based workouts should be your next step. If you are new in the weight room you should consult a Certified Personal Trainer that can assess you and create a program that is exactly right for your fitness goals and fitness level.
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Until Next Time… In Good HEALth