The Truth Behind Weight Training for Women
Unfortunately, the fitness industry is plagued with misinformation. For example, there used to be a myth that cardio training would somehow make you lose your muscle. In addition, many people had the belief that by eating fats you would become fat.
We now know this is not true, but there are still many misconceptions that need to be debunked.
Today's misconception falls onto the shoulders of women.
“Lifting Weights Makes you Bulky”!
This is the most ridiculous statement that has come into the health and fitness industry. The reality of getting “bulky” is that it is actually quite difficult. Achieving a large, bulky frame requires close attention to diet and specific training protocols - most of which are reserved for high-performance athletes or people who have a specific goal of getting bigger.
Your goal is completely different, and so is your training/diet.
The best way to achieve a lean and toned body is with balance. Balance is achieved through a variety of training methods, including weight training, cardio, and proper nutrition.
At the forefront of all the greatest physiques in history is weight training. Weight training provides your body with a sense of direction - because it is completely intentional.
You want to get stronger legs - train legs. Want to sculpt your shoulders - train shoulders. It really is a simple process when done properly. The issue comes when the training is not completed properly.
The question arises then, how do we train to sculpt the body without putting on mass?
Use Free Weights and Strength Training for A Strong and Toned Physique
Depending on your physique, you will find that different exercises and rep ranges will work better. If your goal is to achieve an optimal body composition, most strength experts will agree that the majority of your training should be done in the 8-12 reps per set range.
Rep and set ranges tell us everything we need to know about how much weight to use.
Your trainer asked you to do 3 sets of 5 repetitions - with lower reps you can do more weight for each rep. You also only have a total of 15 repetitions - which means you can work harder in less time.
In contrast if your trainer asked you to do three sets of 12 repetitions you would utilize less weight because you need more energy for the extended number of reps. Here you are doing a total of 36 repetitions with far less weight.
As we said before most of the work you will be doing in the gym will fall into the 8-12 rep range for 3-4 sets (each exercise). At this rep range you will be using a moderate weight - just enough to stress the muscles for lean growth.
Depending on your personal goals you can start working into lower rep ranges and higher weights to build strength.
Benefits of Weight Training
- Burn more calories
- Sculpt specific areas of the body
- Build a strong foundation for future development
- Extremely fun and engaging
- Observe faster progress
- Decreases anxiety
- Promotes stress relief
The benefits of weight training are immense, but perhaps the most important aspect to consider is that weight training provides a foundation of strength.
Let us not forget that this journey you are embarking on - building a physique and losing weight, will take time. Just as a building needs a strong foundation to be built high, your body needs a strong foundation to grow stronger over time.
To progress in weight training requires careful attention to detail in fitness programming. For best results try to find a progressive training program.
When done properly, cardio training can be one of the most effective methods to track weight loss and overall body composition.
Cardio training is essential in a body sculpting program because the variables rarely change.
A treadmill at speed 8.0 will always be a speed of 8.0. This means you can track, quite specifically, the amount of calories you burn and the amount of time you spend running.
If you want to run faster or burn more calories you simply increase the speed or increase the incline of the treadmill.
Plus, cardio training is great for the heart and for many people, provides a euphoric effect.
Benefits of Cardio Training
- Improves your body composition
- Improves your steady state metabolism
- Increases metabolic rate
- Puts less stress on muscles than weight training
- Great for heart health
- Makes your body better at transporting oxygen
Experts are divided on when you should train cardio, but the general consensus is that training after a workout rather than before will lead to the greatest effects in overall weight loss and fat loss.
For best results, try supplementing caffeine prior to a cardio training session. The caffeine will trigger a heightened sense of mental awareness and will allow you to train harder, for longer. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates you - so drink moderate amounts of water during and after your run to recover properly and stay hydrated.
For best results you should train with 2-3 sessions of cardio lasting 20-30 min each - weekly. You may use variable running tempos but best results will come when you maintain a steady state and train your body to run faster for longer over the course of the weeks and coming months.
Dieting for A Sculpted Body
It would be great if we could workout and eat whatever we want. Unfortunately that is not the case, and you cannot outrun or outtrain your diet.
If you have goals of losing weight, putting on some muscle and achieving that hourglass figure it starts with a great diet. Not only will a well balanced diet help you to achieve the body you have been wanted for years, but it will also enable you to train harder in the gym.
Food is Calories, and Calories are Energy
Somewhere along the line people have been told that calories are bad. The problem does not lie with calories, but rather the type of calories you ingest and the time you eat them.
Calories are a source of energy that our body uses to move and feel energized throughout the day.
Carbohydrates - 4 kcal/gram
Protein - 4 kcal/gram
Fat - 9 kcal/gram
Not all Calories are the same.
Each meal you eat will contain three main types of calories sourced from fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Each of these have a variable amount of calories depending on the food that you eat. If your goal is to lose weight, put on some muscle and improve your overall body composition (burn fat) then you should eat a 50/30/20 macronutrient split (carbohydrates, protein, fats).
You will find this is not only the most simple macronutrient split to stay on, but in many cases the most effective - when used properly.
They provide your body with essential nutrients such as glycogen to fuel muscle, and blood glucose for brain function. Without an adequate source of carbohydrates in your diet you will lack strength and struggle to find energy in the gym.
Fruit, vegetables and moderate amounts of grains, barley and oats should be the staple nutrients for your carbohydrate consumption for weight loss and body sculpting goals.
Used to repair muscle, improve immune function and promote normal growth, proteins are the superior nutrient when it comes to recovery from exhaustive workout sessions. 30% of your dietary intake should be from lean meats, beans, nuts and legume. For best results, do your best to limit fatty meat intake with high saturated fats (Beef, Pork etc).
The debate is open when it comes to fat consumption but most experts will agree that your diet should consist of 15-20% intake from unsaturated fats - avocado, olive oil, almonds, pistachios etc.
Fats are a great source of fuel but they contain more than 2x the amount of calories per serving than both protein and carbohydrates do. This increase in calories will provide you with a great source of energy, but will increase your total daily calorie amounts and will make weight loss difficult.
Take care to keep your fat intakes low, and eat your fats earlier in the day rather than in the evening.
Building Your Perfect Body
You can't be afraid of the weights. Knowing that weights do not have some magical effect of putting bulk and muscle onto the body you should train with balance through weights, cardio and wholesome nutrition.
Key Points to Remember
- Keep your rep schemes around 8-12 per set
- Work into lower rep ranges as you get stronger
- You cannot outrun or outtrain your diet
- Not all calories are the same
- Utilize both cardio training and weights for optimal physique
Whether your goal is to build a little bit of strength or lose weight you can benefit from a well rounded training program that incorporates a balanced diet, adequate recovery and a combination of training styles including cardio and weight training.