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For the Love of Fit: Women who lift weights add strength, not bulk

For the Love of Fit: Women who lift weights add strength, not bulk

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Hey women, this one is all for you. And it can be our little secret, too. OK?

Resistance training - you know, lifting weights - is all right. It's safe for you to do. And the best part: You won't get big, bulky and, as many of you say, "manly looking."

Now, remember this secret, and tell only the most open-minded males in your life, because too many XY types have believed as you have - and still incorrectly believe - that women shouldn't lift weights.

Let's understand this about women and weights: The average woman doesn't come close to producing enough testosterone to increase the size of her muscles dramatically.

When you see a woman looking like the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, odds are good that, like Schwarzenegger, that woman is taking steroids containing both anabolic and androgenic qualities.

In other words, I'm talking about the strong, Barry Bonds-type stuff. I'm not talking about corticosteroids.

A dainty woman who starts lifting weights will eventually look like a strong woman. Not a man.

A heavy woman who starts lifting weights will eventually look like a strong woman. Not a man.

Here are a few other things that will happen to a woman who lifts weights:

• You will gain strength. Because you don't have the amount of size-inducing hormones that males do, you will not gain the unwanted bulk. You will gain more definition and muscle tone, and from what I've heard, that's what most women want.

• You will eliminate excessive amounts of body fat. We all need a certain amount of body fat to remain healthy. But resistance training will burn your body fat faster than aerobics. Resistance training helps increase lean muscle mass. And the more lean muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism will be - therefore, the more fat you burn throughout the day.

• You will reduce your risk of ailments such as osteoporosis, heart disease, Type II diabetes and arthritis. Improving muscle strength helps improve everything from bone mineral density and the strength of connective tissues to lowering our bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the good cholesterol (HDL).

• Your self-confidence gets a boost. My female clients have all improved their confidence because of a new-found strength and a renewed sense of well-being.

• And, most important: Resistance-training women will be able to play more. Stronger muscles improve overall athleticism. That slows fatigue, so you become a better cyclist, tennis player, volleyball player, golfer, basketball player, etc. Hiking, climbing, walking, kayaking and any other "ing" sport you can think of will become easier and more fun.

So, women, lift weight for fitness and fun. Sorry to sound like a slogan, but those are the reasons I lift.

That's a secret I'm happy to share.

• Milo F. Bryant is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified fitness professional. He writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette and can be reached through his Web site, www.for-the-love.com.

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