Sunday, June 2, 2013

Calling All Women: Get Fit, Get Strong - By Andrea Rippe

Most women are out to look good and hey, so am I. But I also like to be strong. And being strong will help any woman who wants to change her body.

Most women go to the gym because they want to lose weight, reduce the size of their thighs and get a flat tummy. If you want to change your body, you've got to have some muscle. A body without muscle is a bag of bones and that doesn't have much shape. Don't just strive to be thin, strive to be fit and strong. If you want to be fit and strong, you are going to have to work.Here is a list of things that need to happen if you really want to change your body:

1) It's going to mean feeling "a bit uncomfortable"(HIGH INTENSITY) and doing your workouts when you don't really feel like it (CONSISTENCY).

2) It also means eating what you should eat, in the amount you should eat, not just what you want to eat or what you are craving (DISCIPLINE).

3) It means not believing that if you lift heavy weights you will become big and bulky or look like a steroid freak.

4) It means that you forget terms like toning, sculpting and muscle lengthening.

5) It means learning how to do exercises that will actually change your body (CORE EXERCISES) not small ineffective exercises.

6) It means doing cardiovascular exercise. If you want to get fit and in good condition, you will have to work hard, that means using 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate as a target range.

7) It means getting enough sleep to allow for recovery and basic health.

8) It means resting adequately between weight training sessions so your muscles have enough of a chance to grow stronger (INFREQUENCY) and yet not atrophy.

9) It means always trying to get stronger.

10) It means following Bob Whelan's Ten Commandments.

The bottom line is that women need to train intensely and consistently-but not to frequently--using basic exercises.

Intensity is the most important variable of a cardiovascular or weight training program. Your success in changing your body, specifically your muscles, will be determined by whether or not you lift with high intensity. What is high intensity training? High intensity means working to momentary muscular failure. That means you cannot perform another rep, with proper form. You must give 100% to each set of each exercise, continuing at full intensity until you can no longer achieve another repetition.

If you always lift the same amount of weight for the same number of repetitions, your body can obviously handle the stress. Therefore, it will make no changes since it doesn't need to change. If you increase the demands placed on your body, it will respond in turn. As you increase the amount of weight, you force the muscles to develop strength and eventually some size.

As females, we don't have the same potential as men to develop huge muscles; but muscle is a good thing, and to develop some that are visible to the naked eye is okay. You are developing your body to your potential. All women have different genetic potentials. You cannot look at someone and say, "I want her thighs or her shoulders". You need to say, "I want to develop my shoulders, my body". Even better than that, decide you want to be able to do a pull-up, or five pull-ups, or even ten or more pull-ups. Set concrete goals for yourself.

Consistently training with a high intensity is the only way your body will adapt and therefore change. One hard workout once or twice a month is not enough to create change. It's also not enough to keep you from getting sore, really sore all the time. I tend to get sore after most workouts. The idea is not to incapacitate yourself, but to challenge the muscles, and sometimes that will make you sore. Too much soreness does not allow for regular hard training.

Infrequent training means taking at least a couple of days off between weight workouts. Working out two times per week is plenty if you train intensely. If you train too often, your body will not have a chance to grow stronger and repair your muscles. This will lead to over training, which is a backward step. The common three-day-on/one- day-off split workouts do not allow you to train intensely without over training. Even though you're working different body parts, your body is a system: when you stress one part of it, especially the lower body, the rest of the body is affected. For example, if you're working your back and biceps using the pull-up or the pulldown, you may not know it but you're also using your chest, triceps and shoulders as well.

Use Core Exercises in your routines. Basic multi-joint exercises are more efficient, safer and allow the use of heavy weights. Heavy weights will build muscle and bone density. The basic exercises that build muscle and strength are the squat, dead lift, leg press, pull-up, pull-down, pullover, row, bench press, dip and overhead press. Include at least a push and a pull and a major leg movement.

Discipline in eating regularly and nutritionally is the only way to get and stay lean and provide the building blocks for a healthy, strong body. Food is a major issue for most women. Not just anorexics and bulemics, but a large percentage of the female population have issues with food. Food needs to become a more neutral topic. Eat to live, not live to eat. Eat because you are hungry and your body needs fuel. We have to stop eating because we're bored or stressed or because the food is there. Eat to restore the glycogen stores in your muscles after you work out. Eat to provide the protein your body needs to repair your muscles and build your new muscles. Refer to Nancy Clark's books and articles for information.

A fit body is flexible, strong, cardiovascularly fit and has a reasonable percentage of body fat. All of these aspects of fitness are important and you can't get fit without working. You may just find yourself addicted to looking and feeling and strong and healthy.

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