Are any of these fears discouraging you from strength training? If so, read on for more information and some advice.
"I'll bulk up."
You won't, in large part because women have only a fraction of the "male" hormone testosterone, which helps promote muscle tissue growth. As a result, women build less muscle mass than men, and they do so at a slower pace. Keep in mind, too, that a pound of muscle takes up about 18 percent less space than a pound of fat, so as you burn fat and replace it with muscle tissue, you'll actually look smaller.
"I thought I was supposed to focus on cardio."
Cardio, as its name suggests, is excellent exercise for your heart. But when it comes to burning fat, strength training can be more effective. I recommend adding a 30-minute session to your workout routine twice a week.
"I'll hurt myself."
You can reduce your risk of injury with these steps:
Warm up. Muscles require nutrients to function optimally, and those nutrients are delivered via blood. Before you work out, improve blood flow throughout your body with a light jog or uphill walk. You'll also raise your core temperature, and muscles respond better when they're warm.
Breathe. Exhale while you contract your muscles (especially if you have hypertension); inhale as you relax. This pattern helps keep your blood pressure in check.
Get guidance. Hire a personal trainer for at least one session; an hour should be enough to learn the basics of proper form.
For more of Dr. Oz’s beginner’s guide to building healthy muscles, see 7 Reasons to Start Building Muscle Today and No Dumbbells Required: 5 Strength-Building Exercises You Can Do Anywhere.
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From the February 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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