Friday, December 14, 2012

Women on Weights: getting started

Okay ladies you want to lift weights?  I'm not talking about the machines....I'm talking free weights?

My background is a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology which is, in a short definition, the study of human movement with an emphasis in sports medicine.  I was a personal trainer and never really understood the difference between women and men in regards to lifting weights.  I took a course and became certified in women on weights and I have to say what I learned was a shock to me.

Here's the truth:  Most women cannot lift weights the same as a man.  We have always known that women are built differently than a man.  Lifting weights is no different and I'm not just talking about the amount of weight each can lift.

Let's talk basics first:  

Breathing:  You need to exhale during the hardest part of the lift.  Take the bench press which is great for the pectoral muscles which span from just under your collar bone through the top six ribs.  When you lift up you will breath exhale.  When you lower the bar back to you will inhale.  

Timing:  The body has small muscle fibers and large muscle fibers.  The large muscle fibers give you the strength and the small muscle fibers give you the "control."  Imagine standing on one foot...strength wise it is simple but you start to shake which is what makes you topple over. The shaking is from your small muscle fibers not being strong.  Take the bench press:  Lifting the bar up is the large muscle fibers; holding it there without "wobbling" is the small muscle fibers working.  If you are going to make the commitment to lift weights you may as well get the most benefits from it.  Here's where the timing comes in:  When you lift up count to yourself.  When you lower the bar back to you double the number.  If it took you to the count of four to lift the bar....lower the bar back to your chest to the count of eight.  This will strengthen the small muscle fibers.  

Use your body as a guide:  What this means is women.....use your body to determine where you finish your lift.  Let's use the bench press again.  Here is where us women differ from men as if we do not have our body in the correct position we have a greater chance of hurting ourselves.  Place the bar directly over your chest...just above the nipples (or where they should be for us older ladies).  Grasp the bar with your hands right above your slide your hands one fist out from this position.  Lift up.  If this strains your shoulders than place your hands out further.  When you lower the bar to your chest (remember to double the number you counted going up) stop when your elbows are parallel with your not drop your elbows below your shoulders.  When women drop their elbows below their shoulders you have a greater risk of tearing your shoulder.

Know what your end goal is:  Do you want to build muscle or do you want to build strength?  Knowing what your end goal is will determine how much weight you will use.  You can do both but what is your MAIN purpose?  If you want to build will lift more weight with shorter reps.  (I highly recommend you do not start with strength and small muscle fibers first.)  If you want to build strength use lighter weight with more reps.  

  • Build Muscle:  You will use the amount of weight that allows you to lift five times.  You will do this three times, resting in between.
  • Build Strength:  You will use lighter weight that will allow you to lift 10-20 times.  You will repeat this three times, resting in between.
Never start a new program without discussing it with your Doctor.  Pay attention to your BODY and don't understand how it is different from us.  If a man wants to help you...great but listen to your body more than the man...unless he's telling you to workout and your body is telling you to hit McDonald's.

Stay tuned for more tips on women lifting weights.

If you have a story about this please share it.

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