I had been struggling with body-image issues, and desperately wanted to lose weight, when I discovered weight training one year ago. I must admit that initially, my primary goal for the first few months was to become â€śthinnerâ€ť. I had spent the months before that eating out regularly, with little or no exercise to burn those excess calories. I had been desperately looking for something to help me get into shape when friends suggested I try weightlifting. I had tried doing freehand exercises before that, but they just didnâ€™t seem to do anything for me.Â It took me around four months to shed off the extra fat, but by that time, I had begun to enjoy working out thoroughly. I was so psyched when I saw the first change in my body- my triceps becoming visible. The primary advantage of weight-training is that you gain muscle mass as you burn the fat, so it really is the best of both worlds. The result is a toned, athletic physique.
As a 26- year old woman who is struggling to make her name as a therapist, while studying for one of her degrees, and juggling an internship, I cannot stress enough how much bodybuilding has helped me. As busy as my schedule is, I always try to make time for a quick workout. A usual workout lasts one to one and a half hours, during which I work on two muscle groups. My workout routine consists of the following days- chest+biceps, back+triceps, hamstrings+glutes, quadriceps +calves, shoulders+core and a rest day. On the days that I have more time, I put in some extra cardio or stretching. I incorporate around 10 minutes of cardio, which consists of alternating between sprinting and brisk walking.Â Weight training has helped me stay calm and focused. I feel more positive and energetic. The high I feel after a good workout is unparalleled, and I am the happiest I have been in a long time.
how to get started?
Starting something new can always be a bit intimidating. It was for me too. Looking at all the different machines can make anyone a bit unsure about themselves. In the initial stages, the workout routine can prove to be difficult to remember too. What you can do is keep a note of the exercises (including the number of sets and repetitions) in your phone, or write it down in a piece of paper. Another useful tip is to always take photos of yourself before you being your journey. These photos can be used to track progress after a couple of months since the weighing scale is very limited when it comes to tracking progress. Click photos of yourself after a month, and compare the pictures. If you are unsure about the posture and movement of any exercise, try to clarify it from a trainer at your gym, or watch videos on YouTube. Understanding the science behind the exercise goes a long way in building mind-muscle connection, and ensuring that your workouts are more effective.
Any form of activity that gets your heart rate up can be considered cardio- jogging, cycling, climbing stairs or any type of HIIT(High-Intensity Interval Training). Cardio is more effective if your aim is to burn fat on spot, as you definitely burn more calories while doing it. Cardio workouts are extremely important for heart health, and help improve stamina and endurance. Incorporating around 10-15 minutes of cardio into your workouts ensures better lung capacity, and lower risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Weight training works in a different way, as far as burning calories is concerned. While weight training does burn fewer amount of calories than a cardio activity carried out for the same duration of time, it does help burn more fat in the long run. Firstly, an hour of weight training will keep your metabolism level up for several hours. Secondly, weight training helps build muscle mass. Larger muscles burn more calories when they work, which means that you keep burning more and more calories, as you gain muscle mass. Weight training helps improve bone density, which is specially beneficial for women, who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because their estrogen levels drop after menopause.
Things to keep in mind
While choosing a gym, always pay equal importance to the equipment as well as the accessibility. Choosing a gym that lies in your work route or is within walking distance from your house is a wise decision. Initially, your body is going to be quite sore, for a few days or weeks. You will also feel more tired and might struggle with your daily chores. I struggled with work for a couple of weeks initially, before I got accustomed to the lifestyle. During this phase, short power naps helped me immensely. But, these hardships are only temporary. Once the phase passes, you will find that you have more energy that you had before, feel more alert and fresh.
Also, I cannot stress enough how important a proper diet is. As is popularly said, fitness is 80% diet and 20% exercise. So, you are not going to see proper results unless you keep track of what you are eating. Avoid deep fried food, soft drinks and junk food, which consist of a whole lot of empty calories. Ideally, all your meals should have a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
If you, a woman, are apprehensive about taking up bodybuilding because you think you will become bulky, you are mistaken. Weight training will help you tone and sculpt your body as you desire. Since it is quite a long-drawn process, you will have full control over how your body looks. You can tweak your workout routines to work on specific muscle groups more frequently to get desired results. As women have lower levels of testosterone, they take much longer to build muscles, and rarely ever get bulky naturally. So, leave your worries behind, plug in your earphones, and give it your best at the gym. The results will be worth the effort, I promise!