Strength Training for Women
By Wini Linguvic
Ladies, would you like to finally get going on a fitness program that you can do at home, one created for women? Does becoming stronger, with lean, long muscles sound appealing? Fitness expert Wini Linguvic joined us on July 12, 2005.
If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
MODERATOR: Welcome to WebMD Live, Wini. Thank you for joining us today. I was always told that women shouldn't train for strength. Obviously this is a myth?
LINGUVIC: Absolutely a myth. Women need to be strong. They need to be strong to lift their babies, carry their briefcases and get through life.
MODERATOR: What can you do to increase your strength without looking like Arnold?
LINGUVIC: It is pretty impossible to look like Arnold. Unfortunately, that fear holds a lot of women back from improving their bodies. The program in Lean, Long & Strong offers exercises you can do at home to get you stronger and bring out the definition in your body. Women don't have the testosterone to get big muscles. Even if they lifted heavy weights, it's pretty hard to look like Arnold. Actually, it's pretty hard for most guys to look like Arnold.
Strength training will bring out definition and get you stronger but will not increase bulk. The key is the correct exercises combined with a sensible diet and a serving of aerobics. The exercises that women most commonly do to bring out definition don't really work. They do hundreds and hundreds of repetitions, spend hours and hours on the treadmill and wonder why their bodies don't change. So it's time to try strength training.
MEMBER QUESTION: How much strength training needs to be done per week to show results?
LINGUVIC: I would suggest three days a week of strength training to get results. If you're just starting out, two days is fine, but three days a week will bring you the best results. Your workouts don't have to be long, yet they should be efficient with the right exercises.
MEMBER QUESTION: How long should each weight training session last?
LINGUVIC: Your weight training session could last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on what you're doing. More is not necessarily better. You want to have a good program that hits your muscles without overdoing it. Your workout should not be more than 45 minutes -- tops. You can have a great workout in 15 minutes if you have the right routine to do.
MEMBER QUESTION: What are the 'right' exercises?
LINGUVIC: The right exercises are exercises that utilize your whole body in a functional way. What I mean by that is you're not sitting on a machine pushing a weight with your legs. When in real life do you sit on a machine and push a weight with your legs? In real life you stand, lunge, bend and lift.
I recommend exercises that simulate what you do in real life, exercises standing up using your body weight, for example. These exercises not only use the muscles you're targeting, for instance when doing a lunge you're working your legs, they also challenge your core muscles, which are the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. And they challenge your coordination, which you need in real life.
MODERATOR: The exercises are beautifully illustrated with great photos in Wini's book. They make it very clear what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.
MEMBER QUESTION: Should you do cardio workouts on the same day as weights or alter the days?
LINGUVIC: The best scenario is you do it on an alternate day. But in our busy lives sometimes we need to do our workout on the same day. You want to have energy to do your strength training workout, so try to do your cardio workouts on your off days, at least in the beginning.
Aerobics are really important. No one dies of a weak bicep. So make sure you do your aerobics. But it is strength training, hands down, that changes bodies best.
MEMBER QUESTION Are resistance bands as effective as weights for strength training?
LINGUVIC: No. A resistance band is better than no band, and for some exercises it can be very effective, such as adductor and abductor work (your inner thighs), when you need to move your legs laterally. If you were on the road and all you had was a resistance band, that would be fine, but ideally you want to be able to increase the amount of weight you're using as you get stronger and there's no way to do that with one single band. If that's all you have, though, that's better than not using anything at all.
There are a lot of exercises in Lean, Long & Strong that don't require any weights at all. You don't need dumbbells or resistance bands. These exercises rely on body weight, such as lunges, plies and pushups. As you get better at certain exercises you add weight to increase the challenge. With a band it's hard to quantify how much weight you're at.