Women and weight training

Lotfi Hamrouni, resort club manager, Hilton Abu Dhabi, dismisses the myth that women and weights do not mix. Here, he explains why women need to get stronger

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  March 4, 2006

|~|Lotfi-PhotoL.jpg|~|Regular weight training can help women to lose weight, avoid osteoporosis, and reduce injuries, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to club manager, Lotfi Hamrouni.|~|I have been working in the fitness industry for the last fifteen years and women are still asking me the same question: “If I lift weights will I build big muscles”. In fact, you may have heard that women should not do strength exercise for the following reasons: that weights make women too muscular and bulky, women’s bodies are not designed to exercise with resistance, or women are not capable of developing strong muscles. To clarify this misinformation I would like to share some research findings and highlight the benefits of weight training for women. Most women who go to the gym spend most of their times either on cardiovascular machines or in aerobic classes. It is time for them to think again about their training routine and add regular weights training to it. By nature, women have a predominance of oestrogen and the level of testosterone is much lower than men, so it is not possible for a woman to reach the same muscle size as a man. Actually very few women have the genetic potential or enough natural testosterone to develop large muscles. However, let us leave these myths aside and focus on the benefits of weight training for women. Firstly, weight training decreases the risk of osteoporosis. One of the most serious consequences of postmenopausal aging is the development of osteoporosis. Oestrogen protects the heart and bones from aging. With the loss of this hormone, the incidence of osteoporosis is high among women. Weight training is the best defence against osteoporosis as it can increase the bone density. Weight training reduces body fat. Many studies have proved that women training with weights two to three times a week lose body fat and gain lean muscle. The 12-week Body-for-Life programme is one of the most successful training programmes worldwide and has attracted thousands of women, all of whom achieved amazing results in losing body fat and shaping their muscles. This programmes includes weight training three times a week. As the lean muscle increases so does the BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate), which means that the body will burn more calories. Women who want to lose body fat must include weight training in their programmes to get the maximum benefits from their workout regime. Naturally, weight training helps women gain physical strength. After training with weights, women feel more independent to lift shopping, laundry or carrying their kids. By building strength, women have less risk of getting injured by lifting or carrying goods. Regular weight training helps to strength the muscle as well as the joints, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and bones. It is very important for women to participate in ‘functional’ strength training exercises to build functional strength, which is required for our daily living. This gained strength leads on to a reduced risk of injuries. Millions of people around the world are suffering from back pain, which in most of the cases is caused by abdominal and back muscle weaknesses. Women who train with weights build stronger muscles and connective tissues, which reduce the risk of injuries. Some studies have shown that weight training helped a group of women to recover from back injuries during their rehabilitation programmes. And finally, weight training helps reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Recent statistics show that heart disease is increasing and one of reasons is definitely lack of physical exercise. Cardiovascular training is essential to prevent this. In addition, weight training can help women to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Research also indicates that weight training can increase glucose utilisation, which could help diabetic women to control their insulin level. In my experience, safe and effective weight training is highly recommended for women. Most women who include strength training in their workouts make excellent progress and achieve their exercise goals faster than those who focus only on cardiovascular training. Regardless of age, I also would recommend all women to introduce weight training in their workouts and forget about the myths of getting bulky or that it is a man’s routine. Nowadays, most the health clubs are equipped with well designed and easy to use strength equipment, which make weight training safe and fun. However, it is advisable to ask a personal trainer to design a customised weight-training programme and assist during the workout sessions. It is never too late for any women to benefit from weight training. It is time to go for the WOW (Women On Weights) and see the difference. ||**||

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