Understanding Strength Training For The Female Physique
Attitudes have changed regarding women and physical fitness; however, misconceptions and misinformation abound. Strength training is particularly misunderstood, as many believe that lifting heavy weights leads to bulk. Another topic women may not have sufficient information on is suitable workout gear. Because women’s physiques differ from men’s, issues of muscle mass and supportive garments also differ.
Women tend to use weights suited to toning even when attempting bodybuilding exercises. Although not harmful, the practice does not constitute strength training regardless of repetitions or type of lift. Proper weight training defines a woman’s muscles which leads to a better figure, not bulk. Such training involves heavy weights and robust, compound movements with complete range of motion. Examples of recommended exercises are barbell squats, bench press lifts, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises. These types of exercises develop long, lean muscles, sometimes using the trainer’s body weight as resistance.
Intensity is an important factor in weight training, involving heavier weights and fewer repetitions. The trainer should, for example, use enough weight that finishing a set of five repetitions exhausts the muscles enough that it is physically impossible to perform more than two additional repetitions. Workout intensity, not repetitive movement, builds strength. Consistency is also a consideration. Trainers should complete either total body workouts almost every day or alternate between upper body and lower body every other day. A routine of this frequency allows muscle stimulation vigorous enough to increase metabolism, building lean muscle.
The strain of a heavy workout requires correctly supportive gear and apparel. For the most part, women who weight train use women’s versions of the gear men use. Items such as shoes, back braces, gloves, and outer garments do not differ significantly. However, one workout garment that women fitness trainers cannot overlook are suitable sports bras. Furthermore, the trainer must choose a bra with proper fit; otherwise, the garment cannot perform its intended purpose. Insufficient or improper breast support can lead to pain, neural irritation, pinching, and binding. Not only will wearing an ill-fitting bra cause discomfort during a workout but also soreness and tenderness afterward.
Except for the skin and hair-thin Cooper’s ligaments, breast do not have anatomical support of any significance. Although weight training does not involve substantial spirited motion, vertical displacement as slight as three-fourths of an inch is sometimes enough to cause discomfort. Therefore, a bra of adequate support is imperative.
Other issues may arise if a trainee does not wear a supportive and well-fitting bra. Shoulder straps can cut into the trapezius muscles leaving deep furrows in the area. This pressure can also affect the nerves, causing tingling and numbness in the neck, shoulders, and arms. The band can be too tight or too loose and either cut into the torso or prevent proper breast support, respectively. Additionally, if an ill-fitting bra causes pain and restricted movement it hinders the efficiency of the workout. Ultimately, poor posture and lack of full range of motion are detrimental to physical fitness.