by Ronny Marie Tucker
Ladies, get your butt in the weight room! If you want to wave good-bye and not have that slab of fat shake in the wind, if you want your butt to hold up your jeans instead of pulling them down, or if you are tired of being soft and squishy and want to be tight and toned, then pick up some weights!
Believing that they will get big and bulky is the number one reason most women do not enter a weight room. Although they desire non-flabby arms, toned and tight thighs, a ripple-free back and a firm derriere, the thought of lifting weights is quickly dismissed due to myths and fears.
Myth No. 1 – Lifting weights will make you big and bulky.
Fact – Getting big and bulky involves very heavy lifting, a high-calorie diet, and hours in the weight room. The average woman needs 2 to 3 days of strength training a week to achieve toning and definition. If you can lift any weight for 12-15 repetitions, you will not increase in size. To make a muscle larger, or achieve what is known as hypertrophy, you must constantly increase the weight you are lifting – the heavier the weight, the bigger the muscle. However, for toning, you increase repetitions rather than the weight. For example, lift 20 pounds for ten repetitions. Three weeks later, lift 20 pounds for 15 repetitions. Three weeks later lift 20 pounds for 20 repetitions. Three weeks later lift 25 pounds for 10 repetitions and repeat the pattern. This strengthens the muscle without adding size.
Myth No. 2 – Cardio alone will tone you up.
Fact – Cardiovascular exercise is for your cardiovascular system, heart and respiratory system so don’t eliminate it. But while you are burning calories and fat during cardiovascular exercise, you are not building muscle. In fact, if you do too much cardio without any form of resistance training, you could be burning muscle as well as fat. Lots of cardio and no strength training will result in a smaller version of your bigger self, a.k.a. “skinny fat person.” You may be smaller, but you will still be soft and flabby. You must strength train to build muscle. Muscle gives your skin something to grab onto and makes your body look tight and toned. Without muscle, your skin will move with the fat and then hang loosely when the fat is burned.
Myth No. 3 – You can only build muscle in the weight room.
Fact – While the weight room is definitely a place to tone muscles, it is not the only option. Resistance bands are great for toning, inexpensive, and can be used anywhere. Dumbbells, medicine balls, or weighted exercise bars are also great strengthening tools that can be purchased affordably at department stores. Even basic calisthenics such as pushups or pull-ups can help build muscle tone and add definition.
Final Tip: Follow a low-calorie diet to maximize weight loss and muscle definition. Cardiovascular exercise only burns calories while you do it, but muscles burn calories all day long – even while you’re sleeping.