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I'M A WOMAN AND I DON'T WANT TO BULK UP!   by Chicago Personal Trainer Staff

The card from the committee coordinating your high school reunion arrives in the mail yesterday, and all you can think about is whether everyone will still view you as the football team’s pom squad captain with the perfect grade point average. Fifteen years, twenty pounds, one husband and two kids later, you realize you couldn’t do the splits even if your life depended on it. Aging is inevitable; Accountability is part of life. But, damnit, YOU were “da bomb” in high school, and you still wanted to shine for your greatest fans and worst critics. So you approach a Gold Standard Trainer, and tell him that you want to look like the eighteen-year-old girl who dazzled a crowded stadium of cheering fans. And he tells you: “No problem. We’ll do some cardio, lift weights, do core and balance exercises…”

And all you hear is “lift weights” (men aren’t the ONLY ones with selective hearing). You gulp hard. You imagine yourself in an environment of meatheads beating their chests, and toasting each other with their protein shakes after a grueling session of pumping iron. But, you imagine a scarier image: You looking like one of those meatheads. Sure, you enjoyed dating the muscular captain of the football team in high school, but you never wanted to look like him! Your perfect workout involves lots of running and five hundred sit-ups a day. Your trainer shakes his head in exasperation, and proceeds to allay your fears:

WEIGHT TRAINING CAN MINIMIZE EFFECTS OF MENOPAUSE AND AGING : Weight training for women should be more than toning and sculpting. Menopause and aging are both associated with a decrease in bone density, muscle mass and an increase in adipose (fat) tissue. Weight bearing and weight loaded activity causes osteoblasts to migrate to the bone surface. The osteoblasts manufacture proteins which are eventually mineralized as calcium, and increase the strength and rigidity of the bones. As more osteoblasts are manufactured through weight bearing and weight loaded activity, more proteins are mineralized as calcium to increase the strength and rigidity of bones. While menopause and aging aren’t the celebrated milestones that women want to reach anytime soon, it does not mean YOU should be pounding on the weights like the aforementioned meatheads. All you need to do is do one full body workout, three times a week. Each major muscle group should be trained once in a two set, 15 repetition sequence at 70% of a 1RM max. Each exercise should include a stability component, such as bicep curls standing on one foot or shoulder presses on a stability ball. Depending on your goals, cardiovascular exercises and food intake will also need to be included in the training regimen. The consistent deployment of this training program will increase the manufacturing of osteoblasts, and therefore increase the calcium production needed to increase the strength and rigidity of the bones. Consequently, the effects of menopause and aging will be minimized.

WEIGHT TRAINING CAN MINIMIZE THE EFFECTS OF ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES: As the human body ages, it becomes vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Weight training is absolutely necessary to increase musculoskeletal strength need to immediately support a fall, or quickly heal from an arthritic pain. Imagine if you were rummaging through your closet trying to find your high school yearbook, and you fell off the ladder and hurt your lower back. If you never did any back exercises, it would take several weeks for the back to heal due to a lack of neural adaptation. If you did back exercises on a consistent basis, then your back was programmed to adapt to stresses generated from applied force, and therefore be capable of withstanding the fall. Therefore, it would take less time for the back to heal given neural adaptation. Weight training as an isolated activity can cause accidents and injuries, so it is very important to take the necessary steps in exercising in a safe and effective manner.

 WEIGHT TRAINING CAN INCREASE PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS: But we know what your REAL motive is. At this point, you’re not worried about menopause, aging, osteoporosis or breaking a fall. You want to look hot. You want your greatest fans and worst critics to be eyeing you the entire night, wondering if that dancer body can still do the splits. The striations (cuts) in any muscular structure are mostly created through a low weight, high repetition sequence. Also, it is very important for all muscle groups to rest for at least 48 hours, so the muscles can morph in an optimal way.

So, wipe the sweat off your brow, put on those cross-trainers and strap on those weight gloves. We’re going to hit the weight room for the next few months, so you can walk into that reunion, and be able to put on a great show for the cheering fans! It’ll be like old times…..


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