It is not unusual to see women work their butts off on cardio machines like elliptical trainers and treadmills. While cardio is essential to give the metabolism a kick-start, boost cardiovascular health, increase stamina and burn fat, it is not the ultimate solution to your long-term weight loss goals.
In fact, women who do excessive cardio become skinny fat and end up losing a lot of lean muscle in the process. The ultimate training programme for women encompasses a combination of cardio and strength training. Skipping the weight room and avoiding the machines will make you lose out on the ultimate flab meter. It has been estimated that a mere 21% of women strength train 2-3 times a week.
Why Strength Training Is Important?
There are many benefits of weight training. It gives an instant calorie burn making you shed nearly 3 inches off your waist and hips in 10 weeks. This is when you combine it with just 20-30 minute cardio sessions. When you strength train, you build lean muscle mass. A pound of muscle gained may weigh more but it also burns more calories when it is at a resting state.
This translates to a higher metabolism, which is why hard-core women weight lifters can get away by eating almost anything and not gaining even a pound. When you just do cardio, you burn calories during the workout but not after. With weights, you will burn nearly up to 15% of calories after your workout session.
Strength training also builds strength. You will never feel tired, lethargic or exhausted if you have been lifting weights on a regular basis. On the contrary, you will see huge changes in your ability to lift heavier loads. You will never have to worry about being the damsel in distress when it comes to lugging heavy baggage or groceries.
How to Start Weight Training
It is very essential to include at least three weight-training sessions every week. You can do a full body workout, which includes circuit training i.e. doing 2-3 exercises per muscle group. You can also do upper body workouts one day and lower body workouts the other day.
Another way of whittling the fat is to work out on two muscle groups every day. Ask the gym trainer to help you out. Seeing your body constitution and size as well as your experience in weight training, he/she should be able to chalk out an effective weight lifting programme for you.
Exercises to Be Performed for Weight Training
There are several exercises, which you can do for each muscle group. Ideally, 3-4 exercises per muscle group are enough to give you the desired results. If your lower body has, the maximum trouble spots make sure that you work on your lower body at least twice in a week. Exercises like the lunges, squats and leg presses are fabulous for giving you super toned and well-defined legs.
Other must do exercises for women include triceps extension, triceps kickbacks, dumbbell curls, hammer curls, bench presses, lat pull downs, reverse flies and overhead shoulder presses. All of these exercises target individual muscle groups present in your body. Aim to perform three sets of each exercise aiming for 12-15 reps.
One major thing, which women overlook, is the amount of weight that they are lifting. You should not lift weights that hardly challenge your muscles. In fact, be bold and go in for heavier weights that challenge your muscles and force them to respond. Despite the myth surrounding weight training, women who lift heavier weights tend to be leaner than those who are stuck to 2-pound pink dumbbells. So do not feel shy but lift weights just like the guys.
Eating Right While Weight Training
One important aspect of weight training is the quality and quantity of food that you put into your body. Weight training is a very scientific field and requires that you eat well and eat correctly. Muscle needs protein so make sure you get enough of it in the form of eggs, paneer, fish and chicken.
Aim for 1 gm of protein per pound of body weight. You also need healthy fats like nuts, olive oil and fish as they help to burn calories. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies and complex carbs like oats. A healthy diet will give you better and faster results than workouts alone. Eat 5-6 small meals in a day. Eat a banana or a fruit before your workout session and protein rich food after your workouts to promote muscle repair and recovery. This will boost your performance as well in the long run.
Safety Tips for Weight Training
Never do any exercise without supervision especially if you are a beginner. One huge mistake that people make is that they read books and think that they know everything that is to know about weight lifting. You must chalk out a workout schedule after speaking to your trainer.
Guard yourself against injuries and always do the exercise with proper form and technique, as these will give you better results. Always lift the weight and use the machines with a full range of motion. Another oft-overlooked principle is the number of times you should be working out on a muscle group. Ideally, once a week is more than enough. You should not be exercising the same muscle group on two continuous days. Your muscles too need time to recover from the excessive wear and tear that you have put them through.
Benefits of Weight Training
One huge advantage of working out with weights is that is burns the deeper transdermal layers of fat that are responsible for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. This will in turn make you healthier and keep you disease free in the long run.
For women entering their menopausal years, weight training not only helps to lose weight but also enhances the bone mass of women, helping to guard their bones against osteoporosis. So skip the treadmills and the cycles and start heading to the weight room. You will be thanking yourself for the decision you took.