Happy Summer, Fitness Friends! It's been a while since I've blogged, but thanks to the encouragement of a friend and an interaction that occurred this week, I was motivated to put fingers to keyboard.
I'm quite thankful for this outlet for allowing me to vent and educate here, rather than lose my composure with a fellow fitness "professional," which almost happened this week.
Here's what happened: After teaching my classes at one of the facilities where I work, a personal trainer approached me to ask why my participants take dumbbells from the fitness floor into my classes since the group fitness studio is equipped with dumbbells. I asked which dumbbells they were taking, to which he replied the 12- and 15-pound pairs.
I said, "I think it's because we only have pre-set dumbbells up to 10 pounds in the studio, and I train my participants to build strength and lift heavier if they can."
With an eye roll, he says, "Oh please. Give me a break."
"Excuse me?" I replied.
"You have 10 pound dumbbells," implying that that should suffice for my participants, which are mostly female.
"Yes, and my participants can lift more than that, because they're strong!" I retorted.
Before the conversation could escalate, we were interrupted by a passerby (thankfully!). In the end, he explained that his desire was for more equipment throughout the facility, and we parted amicably.
Unfortunately, this old school personal trainer's ill-informed mindset about women training with heavier loads continues to exist despite myriad studies and expert guidance to the contrary, as summed up by trainer and fitness writer, Kellie Davis: "Undoubtedly, you've heard the horror stories: lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, it's dangerous, it's bad for your joints, and once you have muscle, you can't stop lifting or it will all turn to fat. It's all BS, and it feeds into stereotypes that are keeping too many women from experiencing the profound benefits of resistance training."
What are some of those "profound benefits"? Consider just a few borrowed from "8 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights," published at bodybuilding.com:
My participants and clients hear me touting the benefits of strength training all the time, because it's the best bang for your buck when it come to overall fitness. Moreover, strength training can be performed in an aerobic fashion, eliminating the need to perform additional cardio.
According to Shape magazine, "While cardio burns more calories than resistance training during your workout, lifting weights torches more fat overall. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than those who skipped the weights. The more muscle owned, the more fat burned." Did you get that last point? The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn!!
Now that I've gotten you all fired up to weight train, let me clarify that I'm not suggesting you jump to excessive external lifting loads without proper progression. I also strongly advise not to add any load (extra weight from dumbbells, barbells, etc.) until your movement patterns (proper squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, etc.) are mastered and joints are stable by practicing bodyweight-only exercises. Lifting weights without proper form, technique and joint stability can lead to injury. And cross-training--exercising in a variety of formats and disciplines--is still encouraged.
If this data has finally convinced you to incorporate weights into your routine, I recommend working with a trainer who can assess your starting point and develop a program to reflect your fitness level and goals. Just make sure they believe in your potential to lift more than 10 pound dumbbells!!
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.