Many women exercise to lose weight and get toned, yet after
many weeks and months of working out with light weights and high repetitions,
they get barely any results and get disheartened. The solution, says Cape Town
personal trainer Kelly Dessington of specialist gym Progressive Edge Performance, is to lift heavier weights and do fewer
Kelly, a petite blonde woman with a six-pack that would put
most men to shame and a rather impressive resume of double and triple-digit
lifting weights, does no cardio at all but maintains a lean body fat percentage
in the low teens.She says that lifting weights will not only not make women bulky, but it will fast-track them to the toned physique they're after.
“Most women are scared that if they lift heavy weights they
will look like body builders, but that won’t happen. It’s impossible. Unless
they take supplements intended to bulk them up with the weight training women
cannot get ‘bulky’,” she says.
And as far as research goes, she’s spot-on.
What the experts say
Health24 Fitness Expert and registered biokineticist Habib
Noorbhai says this lingering myth over women bulking up from weight training is
a very common misconception.
“Strength training has a variety of benefits
for women one of which is preventing the earlier onset of bone and
joint-related diseases such as osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and
“Performing low to moderate intensity weight training will
ensure increase in strength gains, assist in the loss of body fat and assist
with activities of daily living.”
He adds that “vigorous intensity weight training can
initially lead to a minimal bulk up of muscle, but generally low to moderate
intensity weight training combined with cardio, and following a healthy eating
plan is the secret to getting toned and losing body fat”.
This article explains the more technical components to why
strength training works so well – if done correctly.
Banish body fat
A lot of women who exercise do so to change the way they
look, and a lot of the time that goes hand-in-hand with dropping body fat.
According to Kelly, strength training is the most efficient way to do this. And
given her extremely toned physique and the fact that she admits to doing
virtually no cardio and only strength training, her argument is very
“Light weights don’t have the same effect on your body as
lifting heavy weights does. However, if you want to look lean you need to drop
body fat in conjunction with strength training... which means your diet plays a
crucial role,” she says.
So where do you start? Kelly advises you ‘eat simply and “start
with eating natural foods in the right portions at the right time”. If you’re
unclear on what that means, it’s probably best to consult a dietician.
If you’re still not sure lifting heavier weights is the way
to go, read
this study in which researchers found that women completing strength
training gained less abdominal fat than those who received standard physical
activity recommendations and also lost a whopping 4% of their body fat.
The experts say it, the researchers support it - strength training is the way to go ladies. Check out some of our fitness programmes to get you started, and book a session with a trainer to make sure you get the right guidance on form and posture.
For more pics illustrating Kelly doing some basic strength training moves visit FitnessEditor's Health24 blog here.