Strong is the new sexy in workouts for women

Mon Dec 9, 2013 4:07am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Women's fitness has come a long way since skinny defined the ideal body and a muscled arm was cause for alarm. Fitness experts say as strong becomes the new sexy the gender divide has narrowed, if not closed.

From resistance training to power workouts such as barbell squats, medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings, a rigorous regime has become more popular with women.

"We want women who want to turn it up a little bit," said Dean Hodgkin, a fitness writer and martial artist who co-authored the book "Better Body Workouts for Women" with fitness consultant and nutritionist Caroline Pearce.

"We specifically included heavy resistance and weight training formats because if women don't train heavy, they'll miss the opportunity to gain strength," said Hodgkin, who is based in Leicestershire, England.

Along with advice on executing workouts from hula hooping to power hopping, the book also dispenses guidance on issues like training before, during and after pregnancy, eating issues and mind games that can undermine progress.

"These are times when women let it all fall apart," he explains. "There's no question that self confidence is more of an issue for girls."

Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, doubts if a women's fitness book filled with power drills would exist 10 years ago.

"Now you see this all the time," said Matthews, noting women are eager to embrace tough workouts like CrossFit.   Continued...

A child waits in his pram while his mother participates in an aerobics class at the gymnasium of a sports center in Cartago, east of San Jose July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate