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Smart Girls (& Guys) do Dumbbells

How to Change Your Body Shape & Maintain It (Part 2)

Smart Girls (& Guys) do Dumbbells

In Part 1 of our series on How to Change Your Body Shape and Maintain It – Will Pilates help me Lose Weight? we discussed how Pilates is a form of “resistance” or weight training and its role in creating our shape.

I see women and men who pound themselves in the gym on a daily basis on treadmills and in spinning classes. The women constantly fret about their weight and shape. They deny themselves “real” food and every Monday morning punish themselves for their transgressions over the weekend. Despite the advice I give in my classes I rarely see women in the weights area of the gym.

Firstly, let’s clear up a big misconception – Aerobic or cardio-vascular (CV) exercise helps decrease the level of body fat, thinning out the layer that obscures the muscle. Resistance or weight training is what gives the muscle its shape and makes the muscle and us worth looking at!

Just as Pilates is sometimes perceived to be a girly thing, weight training is seen as just for grunting guys in vests. The weights area of a gym is a ‘men only’ zone. Women avoid this area as this is where after one session, having arrived as Kylie Minogue, you will leave as Arnold Schwarzenegger. WRONG! You need to have enough testosterone to fill the pacific ocean before this will happen. Rather, you will start to tone and improve your shape.

Boys, can I just say in Girl’s defence – some of you are rather intimidating in the weights area and make the more retiring lady feel uncomfortable. So maybe a little more encouragement might increase the eye candy!

The big reward offered by resistance training is an increase in lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories to keep it lean than fat does– and keeps on doing it even when you are sleeping! So as your Muscle mass increases, your metabolism increases, making it easier to maintain body weight. If you omit resistance training from your regular program you will need to eat less calories each day to maintain your current weight.

To achieve a balanced strong and shapely physique we need to include both aerobic and resistance training in our program. Pound and pump! Safe resistance training is a disciplined activity requiring thought and attention to detail but you don’t have to spend hours at it to see the benefits.

Top Tips for Successful Resistance Training

  • Consult a fitness professional to learn safe technique – VITAL
  • Warm up properly to prevent injury
  • Think quality not quantity – perform each exercise with control and flowing movement
  • Make sure you have a balanced training programme
  • Work the muscle through its full range of motion
  • Breathe to achieve! No breath no core!
  • Vary the program – machines, free weights and Pilates are just a few examples and are all effective forms of resistance training
  • Exercise each muscle group at least 2 times per week – have a rest day between workouts to allow the muscle to build and repair
NOTE: Muscle weighs more than fat so the scales may show a slight gain. However, you will find you have a much better shape; your jeans will fit, your shirt buttons will not pop, you will be strong and look and feel gorgeous!

Further Reading

To find out more, I can highly recommend “Smart Girls Do Dumbbells” by Judith Sherman-Wolin.

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