In the second installment of our Women & Training Series, Mark Roper sets the record straight on some of the most common myths and misconceptions around women and training.
1. Lifting Weights Makes You “Big & Bulky”
Weight training should form the fundamentals of every training programme. Whatever your desired goals are, lifting weights such as dumbbells and barbells will allow you to achieve those goals in the quickest time frame possible. Adding resistance work into your programme will also result in a multitude of additional benefits such as improved body composition levels, increased bone density, decreased risk of injury and aligned posture.
Like all forms of training, weight training is a stimulus, so make sure you are following a programme that is suited to your specific goals and compliments any other forms of training you may be doing.
Rather than focusing on your scale weight, it is important to take other measurements into account, such as calliper body fat testing, tape measurements and even photos of yourself. These will allow you to see the changes that are happening to your body. Another great way to monitor your results is the fit of your clothes.
Here at Coach, we measure all of the above which allows us to see the improvement in your lean body mass levels, body fat percentage, as well as visual changes to your physique. Whilst the scale weight may often stay the same when training, the tape measurements and body fat percentage significantly decrease which means you naturally have more muscle tissue, creating a lean or “toned” look. The higher our lean muscle mass levels are, the more calories we naturally burn at rest.
2. You Shouldn’t Lift Heavy
It’s common practice for people to do very high repetitions month after month in the hope it will burn more fat and create “long and lean muscles”. We don’t have the ability to make our muscles longer, all we can do is drop body fat so the muscle is more visible or make our muscles bigger. Learning how to lift heavy weights is one of the most effective ways of getting lean quickly.
Varying your programme so that one month there is an emphasis on getting stronger, with lower repetitions, then reverting back to slightly higher reps is a great way to stimulate the body into improved results. To help build strength in the body incorporate big compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats, pressing and pull-ups into your programme. By doing these exercises you will also improve your ligament, tendon and bone health as well as helping to regulate the hormones within the body which will allow you to train harder and recover more quickly.
3. To HIIT or not to HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most misunderstood training methodologies out there. Done correctly HIIT is one of the most effective modalities of training for improving body fat levels and increasing energy and fitness.
The issue is that so many training programmes or gym classes that are described as HIIT actually aren’t this at all. True HIIT training methodologies train what’s called our anaerobic energy system rather than our aerobic system.
Having a solid aerobic base should be the cornerstone of everyone’s fitness journey but only training this system is not the answer. In my opinion training both the anaerobic and aerobic systems regularly is the optimal way to achieve results.
When training our anaerobic system we are predominately using stored glycogen (carbohydrates) in our muscle and liver tissue. When training the aerobic system we are using fat and oxygen as the sources of fuel. Learning to tap into both of these energy stores is the key to getting into your best shape. It is what’s called ‘Metabolic Flexibility’ and It turns our body into a fat-burning machine, day and night.
To train the anaerobic system effectively you need to have sufficient rest between each effort to help the system regenerate and go again so you can continue to push at a high intensity. A very simple example of this is comparing a sprinter to a marathon runner, one uses high-intensity efforts with long rest periods, and the other does something at a significantly less intensive level for a prolonged period of time.
In next month’s article, Mark will go through an example training plan specifically for women that shows how to effectively incorporate weights, cardio and HIIT into your weekly training schedule. If you’d like help with your programming and to have your measurements taken then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 207 315 4260 to enquire about the new Coach London Lifestyle Consultation.
Written by Mark Roper, Principal Coach and Head of Education at COACH LONDON