Women, Fear Not!

by Sarah Compton
(Cheltenham, UK)

I find it hard to count up the number of times I have heard from my female clients that they do not 'do weights' because they do not want to 'bulk up'. But ladies, I ask you to please fear not, and read on...

I have explained many times before (and had to re-explain to a few friends time and time again, as unfortunately this is a genuine fear that has been imbedded into minds from false beliefs) that resistance training will not lead to a muscular female who looks like a man

Women are designed differently to men and as such we have a diffeent genetic makeup and our bodies contain different hormones which in turn, affect our ability to gain muscle. You would have heard of testosterone, a hormone commonly associated with males and masculinity. It is a woman's lack of this hormone (we do not have nearly as much of this as men)that prevents us from becoming vastly muscular and 'bulky'.

Most women will express a wish to 'tone up'. The bad news is that cardio exercise alone will not acheive this. Partaking in only cardio will merely make you a smaller version of the body you have now. By participating in a resistance workout twice to three times a week you can acheive this toned look - reshape your body like a sculpture.

Your routine does not need to exceed an hour including a warmup and cool down. Find a fitness instructor to give you a balanced routine which incorporates a number of exercises working different muscle groups around the body (arms, legs, back, chest and core). Your instructor will explain to you how many repetitions of each exercise you should do, but generally you would be looking at around 8-12 repetitions per exercise. Your 8-12th rep should leave your muscles feeling as if they could only struggle to do one or two more with good form. A month on, after you are used to these exercises, you can progress up to completeing two sets of each exercise, increase weight etc.

The real secret to getting a longer leaner look is to invest time in stretching after every routine. Take time with your stretches and include some stretching where you actually aim to increase your flexibility. Get an instructor to show you some good quality stretches that you eel comfortable with and aim to add a few extra stretching sessions into your week - after a long warm bath is an ideal time to stretch. This will make your muscles appear elongated and beautiful.

Please trust me when I say, you would need to work very hard and with much dedication for many years as a bodybuilder to create muscles like the 'chunky' men in the gym.

So ladies fear not - head for the dumbbells today!

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