Ladies, this one is for you (guys are also welcome to read, some of this may resonate with you too!) I am addressing ladies in particular because all too often women want to work with me but are afraid of lifting weights. Sometimes this is due to fear of injury, but most of the time they have a fear of “bulking up”. Being afraid of getting injured is perfectly understandable and a great reason to seek out a certified personal trainer. Being afraid of “bulking up” is sadly also understandable in a culture where the ideal female aesthetic vacillates between malnourished runway model and reality TV bombshell. Truth be told I’m not sure that exercise for purely aesthetic reasons ever works in the long term. At best, it can be a gateway to discovering the true power of working out: realizing our inherent strength.
We bleed for a week every month and don’t die. We push babies the size of watermelons out of our nether regions. We create life inside our bodies, and yet, we are afraid of creating stronger muscles to support our joints. We would deny ourselves the ability of being strong enough to defend against predators in order to fit a societal mold. We work out to become smaller rather than to become more of who we are. Seems pretty silly, doesn’t it?
Now I am not inferring that you need to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger-like proportions to make your strong outsides match your strong insides (of course, if that is your thing, go for it!) What most of us need is a well rounded training program to challenge our muscles and inspire growth. If you are interested in becoming physically stronger read the following tips to get you started.
Remember the SAID principal: SAID is and acronym for specific adaptation to imposed demand. Simply put, our muscles are super at adapting (i.e. getting stronger) when we give them a reason to do so. To produce change we must push them to a point that is challenging. If you are using a weight that you could lift all day long you might consider raising the weight until you feel close to complete fatigue by the end of a set.
Put the fun in functional: Functional training is a type of strength training that mimics actions we use in every day life. This type of training works equally well for competitive athletes and average joes. It utilizes movements like pushing, pulling, squatting, and core stabilization to help the body become more structurally sound. Consult a trainer to put together a well rounded routine that works for your specific lifestyle.
Look at the whole picture: For most people it takes a lot to “bulk up”. Excessive training regimens, supplements, and often illegal steroids create much of the body builder look we associate with weight lifting. Strength training should be looked at as just one component of an overall healthy lifestyle. Instead of being afraid of bulking up, consider all the benefits of becoming stronger. Healthier joints, stronger bones, greater ease completing every day physical tasks, and hormonal balance are just a few. You don’t need to spend all day in the gym. Simple exercises like squats, pushups off a wall or counter, and planks can be a good start.
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