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You’ve finally gotten to the point where you’re ready to get in shape. You’ve been saying it for years, even making it your New Year’s Resolution every year for the past decade, but now you’re finally ready. You can no longer blame your pregnancies for that extra “baby weight” you’re carrying around, since your youngest child is now in elementary school. You can feel age starting to creep in, and you don’t enjoy feeling absolutely pooped at the end of the day. The answer to your dilemma is all about diet and exercise. But not just any exercise, you should be focusing on strength-training exercises. Whether that means doing Pilates, using a muscle roller, or lifting weights at the gym, it is up to you.
For most women, strength training is often overlooked. More women tend to focus on cardiovascular activities, since it’s the exercise that garners the most attention. But strength training is actually extremely beneficial for both losing weight and keeping it off. Cardio workouts are great for fat burning and cardiovascular health, but they don’t help raise your basal metabolic rate the way building muscle does.
When you strength train, you’re actually ripping tiny tears in your muscle fibers. That’s why you might be sore after exerting yourself more than you’re used to. Your muscles get stronger because the muscle fiber heals by reinforcing the area, making it stronger than before.
Strength training won’t turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger, either. Women’s muscles don’t have the natural inclination to increase in bulk the way men’s do. Your muscles will become firm and toned, though, which will make you look like you’ve lost weight.
The biggest benefit though is the boost your metabolic rate gets as a result of your muscles growing stronger. Your basal metabolic rate is the energy your body would need, even if you were just lying in bed all day. Strength training builds your muscle cells, which in turn increases your metabolism. You get the benefits of the workout all day, not just when you’re doing the workout.
An important focus of weight-training is having proper technique. If you’re doing crunches or core workouts, you can increase the effectiveness by using equipment like a muscle roller or a Pilates machine. When you’re able to focus on multiple muscle groups with one exercise, your workout will be much more efficient. And that means spending less time in the gym and more time enjoying life.
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