It's All About Balance

Personal trainer Jennifer Osborn

Personal trainer Jennifer Osborn by Richard Gwin

One of the most common misconceptions that many women have involves the erroneous assumption that lifting weights will make one look like a bodybuilder.

You know you've heard this one before, and maybe even secretly believed it.

As someone who loves lifting and knows what a great workout weights can give you, I asked a few friends for their thoughts on this subject, having noticed that none of them incorporate weight training into their workouts.

And yes, they are afraid of weights. Because you just know that they are going to get bigger! And bulky! And their veins may start popping out, too!

Mmm hmm. Quite possibly true - if they were truly training to become a bodybuilding competitor. Somehow I doubt that they will achieve this look with their 5-pound dumbbells.

But the conversation with these women did take a more serious turn when they unanimously agreed that not one of them was achieving the results that they wanted, in spite of their hard work.

So we took a hard look at their workouts to see where they were going awry. And what we found is something that we already know, but often choose to forget.

It goes without saying (because I've said it here a dozen times) that in order to lose weight and be healthy you must clean up your diet.

That being said, again, without a consistent combination of cardio and weight training, you will not achieve the results that you want. It's all about balance.

A suggestion for those of you wanting to really step up your game and finally get results is to commit to a cardio and strength combination.

I would recommend striving for fat-burning cardio intervals two days a week coupled with strength circuits, which rev up your metabolism, for another two days. And you'll love this next part: Take a day of rest between workouts! Yes, really!

What do I mean by cardio and strength circuits? It's simple.

I mean that for two days a week, you choose your favorite cardio activity, such as walking, cycling, swimming or running, and you get yourself into "the zone" with this activity.

Warm up for three to four minutes and then push yourself until you are breathing hard and carrying on a conversation becomes more difficult. This will increase your ventilatory threshold, which is where your body begins burning primarily glucose. Try this for about three minutes and then slow it down.

After your well-earned day of rest, you hop back aboard the workout express and hit a strength circuit. By not taking breaks in between sets, you can burn off approximately 25 percent more calories than you would if you did a traditional weight-lifting set.

You still do a 3 minute to 4 minute warm up, and then grab your weights (5 pounds to 8 pounds for beginner to intermediate, heavier if you are more advanced) and hit a strength circuit like this one, with 10-12 repetitions: bent-over rows, bicep curls, squats, push-ups, lunges and single-leg dead lifts. It can really be any combination of your favorite strength building moves, as long as you make sure to include a variety of exercises to get an all-over body workout.

Next time, look for three of my favorite strength training circuit moves.


Megan Green Stuke 6 years, 5 months ago

I prefer weight training to cardio. When I used to work out regularly, I alternated days doing resistance training and cardio. I had great results. I have often read that (especially for women) weight training is very important. I get great results from it, when I have time to do it!

focusedonfitness 6 years, 5 months ago

Alternating is great, Megan! And you are correct, strength training is very important for women in particular. We lose muscle mass as we age, and this really affects us after age 30. Strength training has been proven to be significant in the fight against osteoporosis, as well.

jamielightblog 6 years, 5 months ago

Great article, Jennifer! I've been alternating cardio with weight-restistance circuit training--glad to see I am on the right track without even knowing it! And I'm LOVING my muscles! I've always found definition in women to be much more attractive than the lack thereof, personally.

focusedonfitness 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Jamie! Isn't it ironic that you are already doing the right thing?! I love seeing definition as well! It's a testament to our hard work! I was overweight over a decade ago, and all I did was cardio. When I stopped losing weight I was so depressed and I couldn't figure out why I had plateaued. Enter a fantastic trainer who put some weights into my hands and opened my eyes to a whole new concept. Once I added in strength training, the weight literally began to fall off. Keep it up! You are so on the right track!

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