This is hilarious, lol.
To be honest, I rarely see women with those tiny dumbbells anymore but I have a sneaking suspicion they’re still getting used (they’re always restocking at my local fitness store). Many women still use them because it’s easier, they’re scared of lifting heavier or because that’s all they have at hand.
When you have access to heavier equipment, you’ll use it. It’s one thing to want to lift heavier. It’s another to make it happen.
Ladies of the at-home fitness crowd, I urge you: go for it! If the thought of a LOT heavier scares you, just a little heavier is fine. For now. :)
I won’t preach about how heavy or what you should or shouldn’t aim for (and wholeheartedly concede that MANY DVD programs call for lighter weights/endurance work - they do serve a purpose). But I will say that if your weights are under 8lbs AND you’ve been using the same ones for over 3 months (or years. Yup, it happens), it’s time to spend the money and invest in something HEAVIER.
It’s a stepping stone. A gateway “drug”.
The VAST majority of body shaming is subtle and it’s often unintended.
For example, a popular way to encourage women to lift weights is using a photo comparison: a leanish, fit woman (like a fitness model) compared to a female body builder or weight lifter. The intention is to dispell the myth that strength training will make you bulky and encourage women to hit the weights. Bulky: bad. Lean: good. It’s pretty clear from the image & tone which is more “desirable”.
Is bulk a real fear that needs addressing? Sure. But if you were a female body builder, working her ass off and loving her muscles, how do you think that image would make you feel?
The intention is admirable and the message is true: it’s very hard for the average woman to put on that kind of size (and involves much more than just lifting heavier. These women eat, sleep & breathe their routine, it’s not an accident). But there’s no need to put down ladies who prefer a little more muscle than average. They work hard, train hard, and although they may not represent the ideal, they are still REAL.
(And… the fitness model body isn’t exactly a realistic goal either. You can get stronger, lose body fat and change the shape of your body with strength training. But chances are, you won’t look like her either. You’ll look like YOU. With your body, even if it changes. But you’ll feel bad ass).
Something to keep in mind as you promote strength training benefits! There’s no need to compare women in order to get the message across. :)
PSA FOR ALL FIT FREAKS! Are you taking enough time OFF?
Recovery is just as important as what you do IN the gym. But no matter how much we ‘know’ this, many people consistently spend hours and hours in the gym because it “feels” right. It’s psychological. A dependence. Fitness CAN be addictive, but it’s important that we learn how to overcome these psychological barriers to live happier, healthier and injury free lives. Outside of the gym.
Recovery is THE reason we get fitter and stronger. It’s during this time that your muscles rebuild stronger, where your body puts your workout to use and where you’ll reap the benefits.
I like to think of it as making bread. You can knead the dough as much as you like, but unless you STOP and let it rise, your bread is gonna SUCK. The kneading is important, but the “rising” on it’s own is what makes the bread awesome. Rest is your ‘rising’ time.
SIGNS OF OVERTRAINING (and/or fitness addiction).
1. A decrease in performance. If you’re training hard and you notice that you just aren’t able to do what you know you CAN DO (having to reduce your weights, not being able to finish a set, needing to take more breaks etc), it might be a sign that your muscles have not gotten enough recovery time.
2. Problems sleeping, decrease in overall energy, mood swings etc. Workouts generally should BOOST your energy and mood. If the days seem ‘harder’ it might be a sign you need to take a step back. Depression can be a symptom of overtraining as well.
3. Feeling that unless your workout is 2 hours long, it doesn’t count. The truth is, there is ONLY so much you can push your body. After a certain amount of time, it releases chemicals and begins processes to minimize damage… NOT to help you get stronger, fitter or better. 2 hours a day in the gym is too much. Psychologically, this is a barrier a lot of people get stuck behind. Often, beginners are encouraged to workout for long periods of time, but at a VERY LOW intensity. The higher the intensity, the shorter your workout can be. Work to limit your workouts to an hour or less, take less breaks, and boost your intensity instead.
“Hi Chichi! My brother recently started Crossfit and keeps talking about Pood’s, but I don’t think he knows what a pood is (I asked him and he refused to tell me, haha). What’s a pood?”
A pood is a unit of measurement; one pood is equal to about 16.38 kilograms, though it’s typically rounded to 16kg (about 36lbs).
In Crossfit, pood’s are just another way to describe weight used or prescribed: 2 poods is 72lbs, 1 1/2 poods is 54lbs etc, 1/2 a pood is 18lbs, 1/4 pood is 9lbs etc. Pood’s first started being used in Russia, Ukraine & Belarus and aren’t a common use of measurement for everyday things anymore. Chances are, if you’re talking about poods these days, you’re referring to kettlebells and Crossfit. :)
If you’re using dumbbells instead of kettlebells convert the pounds approximately (you may have to round down or up to the nearest 5lbs)!
Fun fact: The kettlebell is the Russian “girya”. In 1704, strongmen-types were known as “gireveks”. because anyone who used them became pretty strong.
Hope this helps! (You should probably tell him what they are so he doesn’t embarrass himself at Crossfit, lol).
Using that amount of weight for your workouts won’t do much to get the body you want.
You’d be surprised what an increase in weight can do for your results, and how much you’re able to handle (you’re stronger than you think). Many women are brainwashed in thinking that higher reps is the way to go: we tend to think that 50 plus reps with a light weight is somehow better than 12 with a heavier weight. Let this sink in: if you fatigue your muscle in 10-12 reps, you’ll see better results than if it takes 50+ to get there.
As a rule of thumb, you should boost the load (weight) you are using by about 10% every few weeks to keep yourself from plateauing (or try harder modifications, like pulses, one leg reps, or added instability).
Next time you’re at the gym: find the weight you’ve been using, and add a few pounds. Try a set of your favorite exercise, and see when you fatigue (when proper form isn’t possible). If you complete more than 12 reps, rest, and go up by another few pounds for your next set. Continue until you’ve found the right weight for you, and start with that weight next time. It’ll be tough at first, but a few weeks later, feel free to grab that old weight and be amazed at how EASY and LIGHT it seems. You won’t go back, I promise you.
You can build muscle at a calorie deficit, but not when you’re in starvation mode. Being at a deficit is fine if you’re in weight loss mode, as long as your body is getting adequate nutrition to sustain your activity level (and plenty of protein to rebuild your muscle). Creating too large of a deficit can be troublesome - it signals your body to store fat for energy instead of using it. This happens when we over-restrict or under-consume. All the body knows is that it’s not getting enough, and doesn’t know if and when it’ll get adequate amounts of energy. It slows down other body processes to compensate, and signals hormones to hold on to fat. Muscle, however, is expendable. If it needs to choose between using life sustaining fat, and muscle for energy, muscle wins.
If you notice a drop in performance (suddenly you can’t keep up, can’t lift heavy, or should be improving but are not), a decrease in overall energy, an ammonia smell after a tough workout or are staying sore longer than usual, it may be a sign you’re not eating enough to support your muscle growth. As we get closer to our weight goals, the calorie deficit should be smaller (meaning you can boost your calories a bit to keep your metabolism up, but keep them clean) and more emphasis should be put on food quality, and strength training. Too much cardio when we’re already eating at a deficit can burn away muscle you’re trying to build: muscle that’s the difference for overall fat loss. Eat clean, drink loads of water, but pay attention to signs that you may need to boost your calories.
Too much cardio without proper nutrition can burn away muscle. If your focus is building muscle and changing your body composition, your focus should be strength training and intervals - not cardio. It’s not all about exercise. For muscle growth you need to eat enough in general, and focus heavily on the protein.
Nothing keeps me motivated during the holidays like holiday themed workouts!
I get bored with the standard fare pretty early on in the season, but I solve my holiday music woes by finding worthy, new remixes. I’ve been in a dubstep haze lately, so a lot of these songs are dubstep mixes of holiday classics.
The BPM is a little slower than I normally post, but it works REALLY well with strength training exercises and yoga/pilates training. Taught bootcamp using a lot of these songs and it was a raging holiday success!
While it’s more complicated than just one or the other (you should be doing both), strength training clearly has an advantage in the following areas.
1. Total Calorie Burn
Cardio is a calorie killer for sure, but nothing beats strength training for overall burn.
Muscle is harder for the body to maintain than fat. As a result, your body will use more calories to support its muscle base, which is why the recovery period after strength training gives you a metabolic boost. You’ll continue to burn calories galore even AFTER your workout. The more muscle you have in your body, the more calories you burn while you’re just hanging out. The heavier you lift, with less rest between exercises, the more you’ll burn during AND after a workout.
Getting rid of the fat is not enough to have a six pack or reduce cellulite. You need to build muscle under the fat to have a toned appearance. Not only will muscle help burn the fat faster, but you’ll lose more inches as the muscles develop. To stop the jiggles, you need to be lifting.
In women, studies have also shown a stronger correlation with weight training & body image than with cardio & body-image. People like what they see more when they’re lifting weights.
Hmmmm… Says a lot doesn’t it?
3. Injury Prevention
Strength training increases bone density, of particular importance to women (osteoporosis). This can help prevent broken bones over time. By far, strength training prevents injury more than cardio. That is, of course, if you’re using proper form. Cardio often requires the same movements over & over, which can be taxing on your joints. You can rectify this by changing up your cardio routine often.
This doesn’t mean that cardio doesn’t have its benefits. For one, you can burn more calories during a cardio session, it improves mood (serotonin and other lovely body drugs) and can’t be beat when it comes to strengthening lung power & your heart muscle. Plus, many people find cardio more fun to engage in, which may make it easier to actually DO.
My advice? Do both.
Studies show the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn during cardio. Combining the two gives you the best of both worlds, and a tighter, leaner, stronger you.
If all you’ve been doing is cardio, you need to add 2-3 days of strength training to your routine. Hit all the major muscle groups at least twice a week & you’ll notice a boost in your results & a tighter body.
If you’ve been strength training only, add in 2-3 30 minute cardio sessions to your routine. You can combine the cardio days with strength training. Some studies even show that you get more benefit out of your cardio routine AFTER you lift weights.
- xoxo Thanks for the question! Feel free to follow up.