Katrina Hodgson, NASM CPT, BS Health Science, has helped thousands reach their goals by designing fitness programs with her workout videos and her website ToneItUp.com. As one of Diet.comís featured personal trainers she hopes to share her passion for fitness and continue to make a positive impact for the Diet.com community.

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Fitness Expert Katrina

by Katrina Hodgson, Diet.com Fitness Expert

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Is it true that if I do resistance training my muscles will get bigger? I don't want to get bulky and I already have a bigger boned looking body. I have been working with weights for a while and love doing the weight machines, should I stop and stick with cardio?

Strength-Train to Slim DownThis is a great question. Women ask me this every week when I train them.

Strength/resistance training is amazing for women! Women may think they'll become bulky from lifting weights because they think, "Only men train with heavy weights, and they can get big, so therefore women can too."

Women simply do not have the hormone levels that men do to gain that sort of mass. Women who do have a larger amount of muscle may have had years of heavy explosive training for a sport. A lot of times, too, women have a layer of fat on top of their muscle, which prevents them from looking lean. The muscle will give them the appearance of being smooth, but they may have more fat on top to give the look of bulkiness. Lucky for them, as soon as they lean up a bit they will have nice definition underneath and can still reap the benefits of their muscle tone hidden underneath.

Another reason that some women have bigger muscles than others may sadly be that they take anabolic steroids, which not only permanently damage your body but give you an unnatural looking physique.

So does muscle weigh more than fat? And if it does, why would I want it?

We don't have to get too technical or scientific, but a pound is a pound. One pound of muscle is just denser than a pound of fat. So a pound of muscle will not be as large as a pound of fat - and will be much smoother and lean looking. So YES we want muscle!

Strength training for women has many benefits... below are some of my favorite!

1. Muscle requires more calories during the day for your body to maintain, thus increasing your metabolism! Overtime, an increase in muscle tone can decrease fat without you oeven changing your diet. Planning on eating a little healthier and decreasing your calorie intake? Even better! Strength training can increase your metabolism and help you lose those unwanted pounds!

2. Ever thought about getting cellulite creams or expensive "cellulite removing" massages? Think again. Whether someone is overweight or not, many women have cellulite. To decrease the appearance of cellulite, build some muscle tone in the area to smooth it over! I cannot tell you a better solution, and studies show that fat loss can also reduce the appearance of cellulite... so see benefit # 1!

3. Ever thought about plastic surgery or liposuction in certain areas? Create curves on your body naturally in the right places instead! Forget breast implants - create cleavage that is all yours, girl! How about a more round and smooth butt? My favorite is creating a lower ab area that could even make your low-rise jeans cry. See last week's blog for my favorite tightening ab exercises!

4. Strength training prevents injuries and helps with strong bones and ligaments. This is something that women of all ages can benefit from - young or old!

5. There's nothing sexier than a woman with flexible, long, lean muscles - and all while being able to balance on those 2-inch heels. Hit the weights and strength train your core. It is never too late to start!

6. Increases athletic ability. Who needs that? Women with children, women with teens, women with adults, women with women! Why not enjoy the outdoors and be able to roller-blade, play tennis, show up your husband on the golf course, pick up three kids at once and walk into a family picnic? We are athletes every day of our lives.

7. Increases confidence. A confident woman is a strong woman, and I could go on for days what this can do for every aspect of your life.

8. Extends your life!

What kind of training should you do if you do not want to get 'bulky'? Light weight?

Not so fast... it should be light enough that you can complete 12-15 repetitions, but also heavy enough to stimulate the muscle fibers into changing shape and becoming stronger. The last 2 repetitions should be difficult to do. It helps to complete one exercise after another with minimal rest, so that you can burn more calories and raise your heart rate. Try incorporating some jump-rope or aerobic exercise between strength training exercises to burn optimal amount of calories (circuit training). This will help with slimming the layer of fat on top of that hard-earned muscle!

To answer the original question, strength/resistance ...    Continue

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