Tag: weight training

Why Women Should Lift Weights

By Gregory R. Owens SR

For many women the new year commences with a desire to lose weight and look toned. Many will join the local gym and start their fitness quest by focusing their workout around mid-to-high intensity sessions on the elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike, and other cardio machines.

Nearly everyday that I work out at the gym lifting weights and conducting my strength training, 90 percent of the women in the gym are focused on cardio machines. I believe most of the 90 percent of women working on cardio machines are doing it because they are comfortable, have some familiarity, and believe they will someday achieve their fitness goals.  I think the over usage of cardio machines is from a lack of awareness for most women and misconceptions about weight training.

Research shows that adding resistance training as part of your workout routine is a for-sure method for increasing lean body mass and reducing body fat for women. Weight training has a significant effect on fat loss.  The more muscle a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest. Basically, muscles speed up the metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss. Weight and strength training is a much better approach than focusing only on cardio if your goal is to achieve a toned, healthy physique.

Below are truths that counter many of the myths and misconceptions about weight training for women.

Strength training is possibly more important for women than it is for men.  Women have to rely on growth hormone to do a large portion of their work for fat loss. On the other hand, men have high levels of testosterone in addition to growth hormone.

A 2006 study concluded that “growth hormone, produced in the pituitary, plays an important role in bone and muscle development, particularly in women. Men rely to a larger extent on muscle-building testosterone.  Since women rely on growth hormone to increase muscle and bone strength, the more growth hormone stimulated weight training conducted, the better the outcome.” Growth hormone clearly is more crucial for women than men.

Studies have found that heavy weights lifted at a slow speed are a good way to boost growth hormone levels for women.  Equally important to lifting weights is to utilize as many compound, combination, and full-body movements as possible, so that you are increasing lean mass and decreasing fat simultaneously, rather than isolating muscle groups to increase their size.

Another misconception is that weight training will lead to weight gain and a bulky physique.  The truth of the matter is that strength training may cause women to gain some weight. However, if the weight gains are in lean body mass, you will look more lean and toned. This is because muscle is denser than fat, meaning it covers less space on your body. By losing fat and gaining muscle, you can stay the same weight – or even gain some – but actually be slimmer than you were before.

Additionally, your diet plays an important role on what you look like in your body, and a bulking diet looks a lot different than a solid nutritional protocol for a woman on a fat/weight-loss program. The bottom line is that the way you eat and train will determine how your body develops.  A full-body training program and a diet rich in protein, vegetables, and healthy fats is an effective path toward fat loss and strength for most women.

Having more muscle mean you can burn more calories (and fat) over time.
Understand that healthy is all about how you look and feel about yourself.  

I would encourage anyone to focus less on what you want to lose and more on your physical and emotional gains. Scale watching can lead you down the wrong path, so a degree of strict discipline is in order.        

During my many years of weight training, I have learned that muscle reacts and grows from muscle failure and not by how many plates are placed on a weight bar.  A weight lifting study on women found that regardless of what the training style was – heavy lifting with low reps or low weights with high reps – strength and muscle gains occurred.

Strength training at whatever style you are comfortable with will yield positive results, and if a lean and toned look motivates you, you will be able to work towards your goals.

Another big myth is “you can be too old for weight training”.
“Sarcopenia” is the gradual loss of muscle mass that begins for most women after age 35.  Contrary to popular belief, this decline in muscle mass and strength is not a result of the aging process; rather, it’s due to inactivity.

If you’re an older adult, you don’t need to fall for the myth.  Studies show that resistance/weight training is the best way to prevent and reverse loss of muscle for older adults. Particularly for women, resistance training is an effective long-term strategy to preserve muscle and positive changes in body composition.  Increasing your muscle mass (no matter the amount) is something anyone can do. As I mention often, age is simply a number and not a limitation.

Here is something you need to know about healthier bones and joints as women age.

Women that do not exercise can lose anywhere from 3 to 8% of their muscle mass each decade as a result of inactivity.  If you do not use your muscles you will eventually lose your muscles. Studies have shown positive results from strength training such as reduce lower back pain, promote bone development, and reverse several skeletal muscle aging factors. Strength training not only develops muscles, but also can ease joint pains.

Additionally, there is a strong correlation between weight training and stress reduction/anxiety.

Hopefully, I have convinced you that it’s time to join your local gym and start hitting the weights hard, knowing now that there is plenty of upside for women to weight train just as hard as men.  Once you have joined the gym, work with a certified personal trainer to show you how to perform resistance training exercises with proper form. Make weight training a part of your lifestyle, and you will experience noticeable results to how you look and feel.  

Weight training can make a significant impact to an improved body image. Mirrors in gyms also serve to validate a positive body image.  According to one study, weight training is associated with “significant improvements in several dimensions of body image, health-related quality of life, and physical activity behaviors, satisfaction, and comfort.”

Remember no pain, no gain.

Getting started with weight and fitness training is easier than you think.

Like anything else in life you need to determine how important your fitness is to your well-being and get on with making it happen.

by Gregory Owens Sr. February 13, 2019

My daily life involves meeting people who often admire my workout program and wish they had the same desire and drive. Needless to say, I am often shocked about why they lack desire and drive. I got it, we are all different with different wants and needs. Living in a fast pace world with competing interests perhaps is one of the major reasons why people are having trouble finding time to weight and fitness train. So after some thought, I decided to write this blog and address my 4 pillars (mental commitment, prioritize your schedule, get moving, don’t quit) to getting started and staying with a fitness program.

Mental commitment

Believe me when I say that the body can do what the mind wants you to do. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to get it done. Mind over matter is what I often say.

Doing my long military career, I learned a lot of things about myself, and what I could do with discipline and a strong mental approach.

As a fitness and weight lifting fanatic, I have learned that 90% of maintaining my near-daily fitness regime is mental and not the physical grind. I believe psychologically, it is more impactful to write out the goal you want to achieve rather than just thinking about it. The act of writing it ingrains the dedication into your brain and processes. This makes it more likely you’ll meet whatever benchmark you set for yourself.  Additionally, one of the central questions to changing your lifestyle and becoming the physical animal you imagine yourself to be is determining how bad you really want it.

How bad you want it reveals some interesting psychobiological findings, which includes:

  • Mental toughness determines how close you can get to your physical limit. There is always another 10-15% left in you when you think you are physically exhausted.
  • Bracing yourself for a tough workout can boost performance by 15% or more.
  • The only way to improve performance is by altering how you perceive effort. Visualize your strong effort the day before.
  • Choking under pressure is a form of self-consciousness.
  • There’s no such thing as going as fast as you can—only going faster than before. Do not limit what you think you can do.
  • Faith in your training is as important as the training itself. Believe in the process.
  • Don’t go into your training with preconceived limitations on what can be accomplished.
  • If you want it bad enough, you can have it.

Prioritize your schedule

I firmly believe like anything else in life, must people do the things that are important to them and the things that they really want to get done.

One of the ways that I go about making sure that my training gets done nearly each day, is to schedule my daily activities around my fitness training. It’s easier to find the time when everything else is planned around your fitness schedule. I believe you have to prioritize your workout time like all the other important things in life.

Here are some prioritization habits of highly productive people:

1. They take care of quick tasks immediately.
If a task pops into their mind and it requires less than 5 minutes of time, productive people will attend to it right away, eliminating the need to write it down or try to remember it later.

2. They prioritize their to-do list.
When the day’s list is too long to realistically complete in 24 hours (which for some of us is a daily occurrence), that list is then rearranged to reflect the absolute essentials. Their workout is an essential task.

3. They appreciate what did get done instead of stressing over what didn’t.
Like most things in life, being productive requires a good attitude. At the end of the day, looking at the bright side and choosing to see the accomplishments rather than the missteps means that you’ll feel better, sleep better, and be better prepared to be productive again tomorrow.

4. They have daily dedicated planning time.
Usually 5-10 minutes in the morning or the evening is set aside to think through that day’s (or the next day’s) tasks and to outline a game plan for getting them accomplished. Visualize your upcoming training in detail.

5. While some of us naturally have more drive than others, I still believe highly productive and successful people are made, not born. They are made by seeing challenges as less than a burden, but rather as an opportunity to succeed.

Get moving

You wake up, and the entire atmosphere seems to welcome you into the early hours. Energy flows through you like fuel. Goals and objectives sit at the forefront of your mind. You are charged up for what’s ahead of you.

Yet on a different day, you wake up and everything feels grey. It takes an hour of stumbling about and getting yourself together just to get your workplace in order. You stare at a blank page with a similarly blank mind, succumb to all sorts of distractions.  

A key ingredient which may differentiate between the two days above is motivation. For many people motivation determines the quality of their work and the extent to which they succeed in meeting their goals. It is the inner drive that facilitates goal-seeking behavior that makes it easier to overcome challenges and do what you want or must (or a mixture of both) with genuine enthusiasm.

How motivation turns a task from a chore into an enjoyment makes a combination of the two an enticing option. As with anything else, creating motivation calls for an active approach. When you find yourself in a slump, don’t wait for it to come on its own. Make a conscious choice to reinstate your inner drive, approaching your daily endeavours with energy and liveliness. As well as keeping a daily focus on your long term goals – which make powering through difficult yet necessary activities worthwhile.

Successful people show up and get it done even when they don’t feel like it. Stay focused on the things you need to do to achieve your goals and get it done. Your motivation, discipline & strong work habit will carry you across the finish line.

Don’t quit

Manage your expectations, because there will be ups and downs. It’s just part of the process. There are no quick solutions to becoming good at what you do.

You know the saying: Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Regardless of whether you’re thinking about finding the love of your life or developing a crush on fitness, change is a work in progress. To be prosperous, you have to understand it takes time to build. Be patient, and positively reinforce the progress you are making through self-praise and rewards that are healthy. Mentally, it’s also vital to practice forgiveness if you fall short on your way to the finish line. Even if you regress, pick yourself up. Go back to the step you were at. Get the emotional support from family, friends, and other workout comrades to bolster you getting back and moving forward.

Lastly, here is a great quote from Morelia Fabrega to think about.

“Life can be compared to a card game. The hand that you’re holding may not be what you wanted, but it’s the hand you were dealt. You have to play the game to the best of your abilities with the cards you have in your hand. If you throw down the hand you were dealt in disgust, you lose. But if you play your cards right, you can get better cards, and you can even win the game.”