This week, I’m sharing three important reasons for you to pick up some weights and make yourself stronger. Skinny is out and a strong looking physique is definitely the new sexy. You just have pick up a magazine to see that having some meat on your bones is a good thing. Toned and muscular women are now gracing the covers of popular magazines and even celebrities are sporting a more toned appearance.
As a former athlete and gym lover with a genetic pre-disposition that makes muscles upon muscles a part of my reality, I have to say that I’m so excited to see a shift from skinny being the desired look of the masses. Skinny and waif-like is rapidly being replaced by a toned, muscular and active-looking appearance. Thankfully, strong women are no longer seen as masculine and undesirable. For my male readers, you’ll also be happy to know that big and bulky individual muscle groups are a thing of the past and a toned, functional and balanced muscular body is in.
The fact that the fashion industry is taking note and putting more toned and full-figured women on the runway is critical to improving body image in people of all ages and sizes.. Active-wear companies are now making sizing adjustments to address more muscular body types and, more importantly, many now offer larger sizes to meet the needs of an overweight population.
Until now it has always been disappointing when my overweight clients were discouraged from working out because they could not fit into popular sportswear brands. The acceptance of beauty coming in all shapes and sizes by the media is an important and positive step toward encouraging people to lead a more active lifestyle. Certainly for me, this acceptance by active-wear companies means I have more choice as I can now find plenty of clothes to fit my muscular legs and athletic glutes – not that I’m a fashion exerciser, mind you!
All joking aside, the media may continue to show us what they think is an acceptable body type for 2013, but a healthy body never goes out of fashion. Have you heard of the term skinny fat? This is when someone may look skinny but has an unhealthy internal body-fat ratio that is detrimental to his or her health. I know there are also many people who may look a little larger but are a picture of health internally.
If you have read any of my previous posts you will know by now that my focus with any exercise plan is to benefit the inside of your body as a priority. The bonus is that exercise changes both your internal health and your external appearance. Take a look at my top three reasons why you should add weight/strength training to your life. Making time to lift a weight correctly will help you gain a little muscle and positively impact your health.
Three reasons to get stronger now
Burn more calories
By lifting weights and becoming strong you’ll be changing every aspect of your body. People with increased muscle-mass burn more calories at rest than those without. It takes more energy for your body to sustain lean muscle and, therefore, your resting metabolic rate may increase as a result of lifting weights.
Improved bone density
Weight-bearing exercise is very beneficial for bone health in people of all ages. The aging process is linked to a decrease in bone density and a greater risk of fractures. And, this New York Times article shows that lifting weights can increase your bone density by as much as 2-8% per year, so consider how you can add weights to your workout because your bones rely on resistance training to stay healthy and strong.
If your body gets used to lifting weights, imagine how much easier just lifting your own body weight will be! Improved strength means that your daily activities will become easier and, if you are training for a sport, an increase in muscular strength can drastically improve your performance.
Becoming stronger has so many benefits and you don’t need to be worried about starting to look like an out-of-proportion body builder,. Trust me when I say that unless you are dedicating hundreds of hours to lifting serious weights, and following a very specific body-building nutrition plan, the chances of you getting bulky are slim. Adding weight-training to your routine two to three times a week and eating a protein-rich diet will have you well on your way toward achieving a healthy muscular physique.
Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights but do make sure that you start out with manageable lighter weights, so that you can focus on technique for 12-15 reps and slowly work your way up to heavier weights. As you increase the weight you are using, decrease to 8-10 reps. Your body will start adapting to weight training right away, so get started today.
I hope I have convinced you to get strong and add some weight training to your life, and, if my health reasons aren’t enough to convince you to start reaching for that dumbbell… let fashion be your guide!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.