Every year I get asked the same questions around this time. Instead of hearing the same old rant from me, I’ll let Meredith Falcon, head personal trainer at ActivEdge Fitness & Sports Performance, answer: Ladies, here we are once again, in a new year with fresh goals, high expectations of ourselves, and the top button of our pants undone. We are stuffed from the endless gorge that inevitably happens from Thanksgiving Day until after midnight Dec. 31. OK, let’s be honest. It began the week of Halloween when you bought candy to hand out to the neighborhood kids that just so happened to be your favorite, and somehow found its way to your mouth, one little piece at a time. And it has gone on as we have worked our way through boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolates.
What’s our response to this “bulging” dilemma? We made a resolution to start running five miles every day and eating nothing but spinach and fiber sticks. Sound familiar? First of all, the majority of you hate running and can’t even remember the last time you walked five miles! Secondly, the lack of balance in that the plan not only makes you unhappy, but also those who have to deal with you on a daily basis. The fact is there is a way to give your body healthy curves and shape, increase your resting metabolism, and help you burn more fat for hours after activity. It’s true, and you have heard it before: Pick up the dumbbells, ladies.
I’m talking about lifting weights for strength and breaking down your muscles to make them stronger and shapely. It’s about lifting a weight that you are struggling to lift by the last rep and getting that heart rate up beyond a comfortable walk pace. Yes, it is called a “WORKout” for a reason.
I can hear the groans now, “But I don’t want to look like a man or get bulky!” If I had a dollar every time I heard this I could have retired last year (and I’m 26 years old). Ladies, there’s a few problems with even entertaining the thought that by picking up a weight heavier than a soup can you will suddenly look like a bodybuilder:
1. Not enough testosterone. You were created with up to 17 times less testosterone than men, which is essential for that kind of growth. Why do you think female bodybuilders take testosterone, or some form of growth hormone?
2. Not enough calories. It’s simple science. More energy going in than going out equals weight gain. That can apply to muscle mass as well as fat. For example, if your body needs 1,800 calories to survive one day (including lifestyle and activities), and you are doing intense weight training while eating only 1,800 calories, your body is simply not able to put on a ton of mass because it does not have the extra fuel required to do so.
3. Intensity. It is hard to put on large amounts of muscle. The intensity of your workouts (sets, reps and total amount of weight being lifted) must consistently be through the roof to come close to put on the kind of size that scares you. I am willing to bet that 99 percent of you do not or will not train at that level. And even if you did, there’s still the testosterone and calorie issue we just discussed!
Here’s the bottom line: You are well into the new year with no room for excuses or fears. Embrace your health at a new level and get yourself some dumbbells!