The Iron Jungle Awaits!

Adding Weight Training to Your Fitness Routine

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You walk into Tinderbox Fitness for Women, and you spot the multitude of free weights on racks; kettlebells and dumbbells of various shapes and sizes all nestled together in neat rows. On many days they are lying in a quiet slumber.

Along with those sleeping beauties, the gym floor hosts a variety of weight machines with their levels, pullies, and a plethora of attachments that each seem to possess a unique secret seemingly unknown to outsiders.

It is easy to get lost in this jungle of metal, ropes, and cables and their presence alone is enough to deter novice explores from the land of weight training. "Where do I start? How do I do this?" a new adventurer might ask along with the ever-daunting idea of "What will happen to me once I start this journey?".

Valid questions through and through, and ones that if investigated can turn an iron jungle into an iron paradise.  So where does one begin their weight training journey? Or perhaps the better question is, why should one incorporate weight training into their fitness routine?

For many reasons, I have always incorporated weight training into my fitness routine, perhaps the main reason being that weight training was my introduction to the fitness world. Throughout my entire childhood and now into my adult life, I have always been active. First fulfilling my need for movement through sports until eventually transitioning into life as a choreographer, dancer, and teacher. And throughout all my various activities, I weight trained because that is how my first trainer worked out, my first trainer being my father. My father played football while in high school and eventually transitioned into amateur bodybuilding. My dad knew the ins and outs of that iron jungle and was the best guide for me as I began my expedition. He instilled in me the knowledge of not only what to do in the gym but also how to do it, emphasizing form and technique over the amount of weight being lifted.

Early on, it was glaringly apparent that I, as a woman, was a minority amongst the clanging and banging of men in the weight room. Often being the lone female staking out my claim on a weight bench in a sea of testosterone, I asked myself the question, "Where are my fellow female explorers?".

Why many women avoid weight training

A glance around the gym provided the answer as I spotted my far-off companions perched atop the cardiovascular machines, covering miles of ground without ever leaving the nest. This divide intrigued me, and I wanted to unearth the hidden reasons for why this separation of parties existed in the gym.

My research into why women may steer away from weight training drove my investigation. Entire studies have been conducted to uncover the reasons why women avoid weight training. Results from these studies yielded reasons such as:

  • Lack of knowledge of how to weight train

  • Feelings of intimidation surrounding the weight room

  • Fear of how weight training would impact their outward appearance.

I have found these results to reflect my own experience when I've asked other women why they do not incorporate weight training into their fitness routines as I am often met with the answers "I don't want to look like a man" and "I have no idea what I am doing." 

Not only is there a perception that the weight room is reserved for men alone but accompanying that is the notion that if a woman lifts weights, she'll turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Speaking from personal experience, I have found no sign that reads boys only on any weight I've ever picked up and in no way shape or form do I look like the Terminator. What I have discovered is the multitude of positive effects weight training has on my physical wellbeing.

Weight Training Benefits Abound for Women

A quick Google search reveals the abundance of beneficial reasons for why you should incorporate weight training into your fitness routine. Weight training nurtures our muscular composition and their functions. The alignment of the bones stacked on one another is correlated to the muscles. Any imbalances between muscle groups can cause misalignment of the bones causing pain or discomfort.

Weight training provides women with a targeted approach to combat muscular imbalances, for example; a common issue that causes knee pain is when the quadriceps are weak allowing the kneecap to drift out of alignment. Incorporating weight training exercises designed to strengthen the quadriceps specifically can act as a remedy to alleviate the discomfort in the knee. Not only do the muscles provide support but they facilitate all movement.

Strengthening the muscles through weight training will not only allow you to tap into a more smooth and efficient approach to movement, but weight training will also promote neurological changes.

Research has shown that by the age of 70, many people experience a 15% loss in their motor neurons (the nerves that activate muscle tissue) connections thus making movement more challenging.

Weight training serves to strengthen not only the individual muscle fibers but also the connection of the motor neurons, helping to prevent the loss of connection over time.

Cardio alone not fast track to weight loss

Many women enter the world of fitness with the desire to lose weight, and the seemingly obvious solution is to purchase that one-way ticket into the land of cardio. Cardio is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle, but scientists have discovered that cardio alone might not be sufficient to lose and keep excess weight off.

What scientists have found is that weight training promotes the development of lean body mass (fat-free weight) which in turns boost metabolism because this lean body mass requires more energy to maintain. The more muscle mass a person develops, the more energy their body will devote to fueling those muscles rather than storing the unused energy as fat cells in the body. There is a reason why the term sculpting comes up in conversations centering on weight training. Muscles provide definition and enhance the outward appearance of the body. Think of weight training as being an artist, etching away at the marble from the inside out giving a more refined appearance to your body.

 Another reason to incorporate a weight training routine in addition to a cardiovascular approach to exercise is the body's ability to adapt to challenges and the theory of progressive overload. Our bodies are designed to adapt to stress, which is why after a while, certain activities may not seem as challenging as they did in the beginning. This is where the theory of progressive overload comes into play. To continuously promote physical growth and change in the body, one needs to alter the activity to vary the amount of stress placed on the body. It is a little easier to progressively overload the body through weight training than it is in cardio.  Changing the amount of weight, the number of sets or reps, and even varying the exercises of a weight training routine are all examples of how to incorporate the principle of progressive overload into your fitness routine.

So where does this leave the new explorer who stands on the edge of the iron jungle peering cautiously into the metallic terrain?

We’re here to help!

Fortunately for you, the trainers here at Tinderbox Fitness for Women are happy to take your hand, place a weight in it, and guide you through your weight training journey.

If it wasn't for my father's guidance, I could easily have avoided lifting weights altogether. It can be intimidating to begin weight training without assistance. There are so many options for exercises, programs, and methods of weight training that it can become incredibly overwhelming to sift through all this information alone.

If you’re like me, you find this uncertainty to be a primary motivator to learn more about weight training. It’s exciting to know the possibilities of creating a weight training routine are endless!

So, what do you say ladies, whose ready to start their expedition into the iron paradise?

 

 

 

 

Why Women Benefit from Weight Training (in a nutshell):

Strengthening the muscles through weight training will not only allow you to tap into a more smooth and efficient approach to movement, but weight training will also promote neurological changes.

Weight training attacks our fat cells. The more muscle mass a person develops, the more energy their body will devote to fueling their muscles rather than storing the unused energy as fat cells in the body.

Our bodies seek challenge and good stress (progressive overload) to stay at its best. It’s easier to progressively overload the body through weight training than it is in cardio. Altering the amount of weight, sets or reps, and even varying the exercises of a weight training routine are simple ways to help your body get the challenge it needs.