Women can have it tough. They wear a lot of hats and multi-task like no other. Trying to know the best ways to keep in shape is another challenge they have. Women have unique need and their bodies are not the same as a man’s body. In order to best understand how working out effects a woman’s body, there are many tactics to consider.

The No. 1 myth I hear from women is the concern of bulking up from weights. You must understand that for 99 percent of women that does not happen and usually the 1 percent that it does just means they need to adjust how they lift and evaluate their diet and cardiovascular training. For many who think that they do bulk up, then they also should check their body fat levels. I determined this by checking the body fat with skin calipers which evaluate various points on the body.

Many ladies are very frustrated with their thighs and hips. When evaluating the client, my experience can tell me if a lady’s thighs have room to lose fat versus if their workouts are making their thighs too muscles. In addition, I can determine the points throughout the upper body as well. This can show the total percentage of fat on the body but also the various points can indicate where the client carries it. If the upper body was about as lean as it was going to get, the body will stop losing in the areas it cannot lose more from and shift to where the fat still sits. In many cases for women, this means it will begin to slowly start using the fat on the hips and thighs. In contrast, if the female client was very lean in the legs but STILL too big there, we probably need to re-evaluate the leg training exercises we are doing but that is very rare.

I think Pilates and yoga are two great classes that we offer at our facility. I think they can increase flexibility, help you tone, and strengthen your core. Many people think that you can make a muscle longer and leaner from taking these classes alone. Your muscles attach from a tendon from one joint to another allowing movement of that joint. The length is determined by the length of the bone and your genetics. Tendons do not stretch and if they do then you have an injury. I do think you become more flexible and get better range of motion from various exercises and training techniques and thus make the most of what you have. The idea that the actual muscle gets longer in the resting state is false. The leaner muscle can happen by losing fat around the muscle which will primarily occur from combing proper nutrition/diet with aerobic/cardiovascular exercises done consistently. In other words, doing Pilates and Yoga classes alone will not make you longer and leaner.

Avoiding weights will not help either. You will benefit the most from combing weights, cardiovascular training, and those classes. Your muscles can appear longer and leaner from all of those techniques combined but those classes don’t inherently do that for anyone.

Be careful taking short cuts with your personal fitness by depending on your “friends” that workout. People may say, “I have a friend who has a spectacular body and she is going to show me what she does.” I have heard women say this and guess what? You are not your friend. I also hear women say, “My husband/boyfriend works out and he can show me what to do.” That might be true, but in my experience with many couples that is not a wise decision. Your husband is probably not a Personal Trainer with an Exercise Science Degree and what he does for his own fitness is not necessarily what you need to do. You will have much greater success starting at the level you need to start at with the program that is made for you and you alone.

The next statement is very much a psychological issue. I hear people in general say, “I can’t lose weight because…” When you tell yourself that you can’t then you have already lost. You must tell yourself that you can and you will. Many women sacrifice for their families, jobs, and others. They need to set aside time and believe that they can and will succeed with their health and fitness. Do not tell yourself, “This is from babies” when your babies are in middle school and high school. You might have to work a lot harder to get that baby weight off but you can and must believe that you can.

The fitness center is no longer a man’s world. I don’t know about other centers but we have approximately 65 percent women and I think that is awesome. Men and women need to make fitness a part of their lives. Don’t let myths keep you from fulfilling your potential.

Published in Edmond Life & Leisure – 12/08/16