Although I told myself I’d work out over spring break, I unfortunately succumbed to the urge to relax and watch TV all day long instead of doing exercise. In order to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d try out a class that I’ve been avoiding because I thought I wouldn’t like it. Even though the normal exercises I really enjoy doing are mostly strength training (for example, Pilates or Barre), I tend to be a bit wary of exercises that seem like “hard-core” strength training and muscle building. Part of this may be because I associate the words “muscle challenge” with exercises such as lifting weights and using complicated machinery in the gym, which I don’t particularly enjoy. More generally though, I think that a lot of women may feel a bit averse to lifting weights and muscle training because of the fear of getting “too bulky and masculine.” I remember when I was growing up, a lot of times I would be told not to swim too hard or do too many push ups because I’d have muscular, manly shoulders and biceps instead of being slender and feminine.
I now realize that A) there is absolutely nothing wrong with having strong muscles (in fact, it’s a good thing!) and looking “bulky,” and B) strength training will not make me bulk up like a body-builder because women have much less testosterone (and therefore muscle bulking potential) than men. I also don’t workout or control my diet nearly as intensely as is necessary to get even close to such a physique. Nonetheless, I’m still trying to overcome this odd, probably irrational dislike of weight lifting. Before describing the workout, I thought I’d share some quick facts with you about strength training and its benefits. According to Fitness Magazine, strength training is better at burning fat and calories than cardio, can help increase flexibility, ease joint pain, and strengthen bones (important for women who may be concerned about osteoporosis in the future). Here’s the link if you’d like to read more about it! Also, here is an awesome, encouraging Buzzfeed post that features a bunch of beautiful, strong women who lift weights.
Now let’s get to the workout. This workout was a lot harder than I expected it to be, potentially because I used hand weights for a significant proportion of the exercises… and I don’t have a lot of experience using weights. It’s only 40 minutes long including warmup and cool down, so the actual workout portion of the class is only around half an hour. However, for the duration of the workout there are almost no breaks. I was constantly lunging, squatting, doing pushups, or planking in between sets of different arm exercises like bicep curls or upright rows with the weights. The workout is organized into smaller workout sets, where there are two different muscle moves (typically one for the lower body and one for the upper body) that are combined into different repetitions. For example, we might go back and forth between lunges and bicep curls for a set, and then squats and pushups for a different set. My muscles got fatigued pretty quickly, but I didn’t ever repeat a move for so long that I felt like I had to stop. The class I went to was fun because we used these little steps (seen being used by the girl in the pink in the picture above) for some of the moves, so for a couple of the squats, lunges, and pushups I did, I would elevate one leg or hand during the move which activated very different muscles and really engaged my core. The Youtube workout below demonstrates a lot of moves similar to what I did in the class (i.e. squats with weights, lunges with weights, lunges combined with bicep curls, etc.) if you want to get an idea of what the class is like.
Overall, I enjoyed the class and think I will go more often. It’s not particularly good for cardio, but that’s really not what the class is about. It’s awesome for strengthening the arms and legs, as well as the core and back (so basically the whole body), and the moves are a great mixture of traditional moves (like pushups) and cool dynamic compound moves (like a side lunge connected to a leg raise). I hope some of you guys try this class out, and let me know whether you guys like strength training/weight lifting or if you have any thoughts/suggestions!
https://thedoctorweighsin.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-Best-6-Metabolic-Benefits-of-Strength-Training-For-Women . jpg
http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/campusrec/groupx/images/totalmuscle . jpg