Women and strength training: weighty issues

Mon Aug 2, 2010 6:02am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Strength training for women is a weighty issue.

Despite building stronger bones and providing a metabolic boost that burns fat for hours after a workout, experts say too many women resist it because of a misplaced fear of morphing into the Incredible Hulk.

"People who lift weights are generally leaner," said Lou Schuler, a strength and conditioning expert. "This idea that pounds of muscle are suddenly going to appear on a woman's body because she lifts weights is just a delusion."

Unlike body building, in which the goal is aesthetic, the goal of strength training is to get stronger.

Schuler, the author of the book "New Rules of Lifting for Women," says for most women getting huge is simply not in the genetic cards. But you need a bit of muscle on those bones.

"To get definition you need the muscles a little bigger and you need the leanness," he said. "Women have to lift weights big enough to have an effect on muscle mass and strength. You want to get progressively stronger with heavier weights, fewer repetitions."

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 21 percent of women strength train, despite government guidelines that call for adults to do resistance, or strength training, two or more days a week.

Jessica Matthews, of the American Council on Exercise, said getting women to the weight room is still an uphill battle.   Continued...