Wednesday, December 5, 2012

PUMPING IRON: Female Edition

Once you enter a gym and have been there for more than a few minutes any gym member will notice something odd. A type of dividing line that separates where men and women workout. In the cardio section of a gym, I witness a mixture of both men and women working their calories off to increase performance, slim down, or just enjoy themselves. Sadly, similarities end there because once you migrate across the floor....pass the machines....into the darker section of the gym with barbells, dumbbells, plates, and squat racks...women disappear! WHY IS THAT?
As a Gravity Training System (GTS) trainer at Duffy & Bracken Physical Therapy and someone currently studying to become a Strength and Conditioning Professional, I help women learn about their weight lifting capabilities and it's benefits. The aim for most women is to develop a slimmer waist and toner body. Cardiovascular training will surely help lose weight, but what many women don't realize is that adding weight training will compound your weight loss efforts. That is because weight training adds muscle, which the body must maintain by burning calories and thus increasing your base metabolism. So in a sense, just having more muscle will make you a calorie burning machine just by standing around waiting for the train to come.
Ladies, let's have a heart-to-heart for a second. You're missing out on huge benefits that weight training provides that training with a treadmill and elliptical machine only simply does not. If you are looking for health benefits then look no further than that barbell. It is evident that weight training can increase bone health. So to protect those lovely bones there is no better preventive method than starting a weight-training regimen. Lastly, supplementing weight training with a cardiovascular program will better your performance than cardio training alone. Strengthening those bone, muscles, and ligaments will also help to prevent injury during your long runs. "But Jesse..." you might say..."I don't want to become like those bulky women I see on TV with a manly figure. I want to keep my physique and flexibility." Nothing to worry about, this will not happen unless that is your aim. I have never seen anyone 'accidentally' get a bulky figure.
So lets get to the good stuff....the exercise prescription. Firstly....squats, squats, and more squats. They are considered the King of all exercises for a reason. This multi-joint movement requires ankle, knees, and hip flexibility...strengthening all muscles from the abdominals down. Adding weights by holding dumbbells at shoulder height will stimulate the muscles and bones to grow strong. 3 sets of 10 will make sure those are achieved. Just remember to Watch Your Knees! Don't let them move too far over your toes or buckle inwards, to prevent unnecessary strain on your knees. I advise you to have a trained professional watch your form. Duffy & Bracken is a good source of those aforementioned trained professionals, ask us and we will help.
Next the upper body, women's upper body in relative comparison to men's are weaker so we need to get those guns pumped! Another amazing multi-joint exercise is the Military Press. (I like multi-joint exercises...more muscles demanded = more calories burned) In an upright-seated position grab a dumbbell of mild to moderate weight (5lbs is good for starters) and push overhead. This exercise is great in developing muscle and strength primarily in the shoulders and uses your biceps and triceps to help stabilize the weight. Start with a light weight and slowly progress to heavier until desired shoulder size, tone, and strength is achieved. Three sets of 10-15 repetitions is the ideal range for this exercise.
Supplementing these weight exercises into your cardio training will make sure you meet those cardiovascular goals and here at Duffy & Bracken we are all about making you reach your goals. I recommend coming in for a complimentary group Gravity Training Systems (GTS) workout, which will help develop muscle and trim waistlines. The GTS machine uses a combination of inclines and pulleys to safely and effectively workout nearly every muscle. After a few sessions with us you will feel more comfortable trekking into the weight section of your gym to begin reaping the benefits of pumping iron.
Jesse Barriuso, PT Aide & GTS Trainer

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