Strong is the New Skinny!

How many women do you know who think females weight lifting is a no-no? They might be afraid of getting bulky, gaining too much muscle weight, or not looking as feminine. Research shows the majority of women who go to the gym focus on cardiovascular exercise and avoid the free weights or machines. News flash: strong is the new skinny!

Everyone sees movie stars and Michelle Obama with toned arms, but let’s talk about functional total body training. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction; our entire body needs to be strong.

Last semester, I was a personal trainer at a local retirement community and was paired up with a lovely 85-year-old woman, Mrs. J. Every Tuesday and Thursday I had Jean doing a warm up with 15 minutes on the bike, circuit weight training, and then a cool down with stretching. On her off-days, she walked a few miles with her husband. During our times together, I would teach Mrs. J about lifting, and she would teach me about life. She is one of the sweetest, hard-working women I know. As an older woman taking care of a husband with many medical issues, Mrs. J needed to do daily activities like put away groceries and clean, but she had a weak grip, a weak back, and worsening osteoporosis. At the age of 85, she was still willing to challenge herself (to a certain extent—we didn’t want any injuries!), and over the course of 3 months, she saw vast improvement in all of these areas.

 

What “toning up” did for Mrs. J and can do for you:

• Lifting weights delays osteoporosis and helps control it. It is one of the only ways to slow down the aging process of the bones and muscles and increases mineral bone density.

• Having a full-body weights workout actually raises your resting metabolic rate. You’ll have longer after workout calorie-burn and burn calories quicker than before, which is very helpful in actually losing body fat and increasing lean muscle!

• Women don’t have as much testosterone as men, so it’s nearly impossible to get bulky without lots of supplements. You get strength, independence, and muscle definition, not size.

• Consistent weight training is great for fighting diabetes and heart disease. Weight training helps lower the bad cholesterol and can improve the way the body processes sugar.

 

Mrs. J proved to me that improvement is possible at any age or any fitness level. It’s never too late to build up significant strength. A strong woman from the inside out exudes confidence and believes in endless possibilities.

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Rosemary Willis

Rosemary Willis is a Chesapeake native, currently studying government and health sciences at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She enjoys volunteering, singing in an a cappella group, going to the beach, watching Youtube videos, making people laugh, and traveling the world. One of Rosemary's biggest passions is helping people achieve their fitness goals, as she teaches group fitness classes and is a personal trainer for senior adults and childhood obesity programs. Website: linkedin.com/in/rosemarygwillis
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