Going to a gym, attending an exercise class or lifting weights can be intimidating. To top it off, many people, women especially, fear lifting weights thinking it will make them gain too much muscle and ‘bulk up.’ In reality, we know that weight training is essential for health and should not be feared. For one, having more muscle is one component of having a higher metabolism. Maintaining strong, healthy muscles as we age is also important to be able to live independently longer. Also, research has shown that the protein foods you eat are utilized better in conjunction with strength training exercise.
Short on time? Lifting heavier weights with fewer reps (8 to 12 on average) and working until your muscle is fatigued is an efficient and effective way to reach your toning goals in place of lifting lighter weights. Not sure what weight is right for you? The chosen weight may be too heavy if you can’t do eight repetitions in a row. Or, too light if you can easily do 15+ reps.
For those who have been exercising regularly and haven’t noticed much muscle soreness after, I would advise a gradual increase in the weights you lift. For example, if you’ve been lifting 5 lb dumbbells for over a month without much muscle soreness, try lifting 8 lb dumbbells for part of your workout. Keep in mind that it’s okay to start with heavier weights then switch to lighter weights for your second set of bicep curls, for example.
Remember that some soreness 2-3 days after is a good thing as it confirms that your muscles are getting stronger. It may help to work with a Certified Personal Trainer or attend an exercise class to build confidence, make sure you are using proper form and to get started on a plan. Since time is an obstacle for many, lifting heavier weights might be the solution for a more effective (and efficient) work out.