Tanya Tiessen, BCRPA, ACE PT, MS
It is a widely-believed myth that training with weights will make you resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallon.
It is a widely-believed myth that training with weights will make you resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. Women especially often shy away from the bench press and other weight machines, afraid of building too much bulk. In doing so, they miss out on a host of health benefits–better posture and alignment, osteoporosis prevention, strength and weight loss.
Huge, glistening, rippling muscles will not develop overnight, or even with regular weight training. Testosterone is necessary in order for muscles to increase dramatically in size–and women just don’t possess enough of the hormone for this to happen. Although huge muscles can be developed through training, even most men do not eat well enough or train hard enough to gain any serious mass. Bulking up is nearly a full-time job–one to one and a half hours, five or six days a week–and requires supplemental protein and calories.
Pump Up to Slim Down
Aerobic activity (activity requiring oxygen as a fuel source) is widely known as best for burning fat. Although weight training is often deemed an anaerobic activity (does not use oxygen as a fuel source), it too has fat burning benefits.
By increasing muscle mass on your body–even slightly–you will decrease your body fat percentages. Muscle mass can be likened to a furnace that burns energy, thus decreasing the body’s fat to muscle ratio. As a bonus, muscle burns more calories than fat on your body during rest: lean muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue to simply exist.
The variety of weight training activities and formats allows for aerobic intervals. These elevate the heart rate throughout the workout, burning more fat. Muscle is the most metabolically-active tissue on the body and it will continue to burn fat in any state of activity 24 hours a day.
Weights for Your Bones
Weight training is an effective step in preventing osteoporosis. When heavy loads, such as in weight resistance training, are applied over a long period of time, bones with ample blood supply become more dense. The amount of collagen fibres and mineral salts present will also increase.
As we age we may lose bone cells. Weight bearing exercises work to replace them, keeping our skeletons strong and healthy.
Physical activity is vital for maintaining a healthy spine and correct posture. Weight training stretches and strengthens major and minor muscles groups of the body, keeping the spine straight and the joints flexible and lubricated. A healthy spine allows mobility and pain-free daily function.
If you wish to start on a weight training program, consult your doctor, especially if you are currently a sedentary person. Many gyms have weight room attendants or personal trainers who will be happy to provide you with instruction and a program to follow. Start slowly and watch the benefits appear before your eyes!