Lift like a Man: Look like a Model
Women are forgoing weight training and focusing on cardiovascular exercise in efforts to be healthier. There is also a misconception that we will get too muscular and lose our femininity. There are several advantages to weight training that supersede cardiovascular exercise, but it is also the right type of weight training.
As we age, growth hormone (GH) decreases resulting in fine wrinkles and increase in subcutaneous (the fat we see—abdomen, hips and butt) and less muscle mass. This change in body composition increases propensity for diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. We as women also become much more carbohydrate sensitive and this sensitivity starts in our 40s and increases drastically after menopause. The only way to improve endogenous GH is to increase weight training. The bigger the muscle group trained the better the impact- ie legs, back and chest. Also, less repetition and higher weights improve GH, whereas lower weights with more repetition does not. Not that the lower weights offers no benefit, it just will not increase metabolism by increasing GH. Three sets of ten, per muscle group, and doing three different exercises are ideal. For instance, spend a day just doing legs, another day chest, another on back and then a day on biceps/ triceps. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so don’t look at the scale, look at how your clothes fit you.
In addition, the benefits of increasing GH include improvement of bone density. By weight training and building muscles, cardiovascular exercise is fraught with fewer complications. As the smaller muscles around joints hypertrophy, the joints are more stable to repeated trauma.
Finally, weight training for women has also been shown to drastically improve mood. Those who participated in weight training exercises reported the lowest post-exercise negative mood, when compared to those who participated only in cardiovascular activity.
Nikhita Dhruv, MD
Endocrinology & Metabolism