Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weight Training and Women Runners

For the past many years I have been doing some form of strength training but never really changed my routine until I started working with trainers off and on a couple years ago. Last summer I started working with my new trainer who I was a little skeptical about at first, he will be the first to admit he is not a runner or anything close to an endurance athlete. I wasn't sure how we'd relate but since he seemed to know his stuff (head trainer) I gave him a shot and I'm glad I did. I can honestly say I kind of enjoy this now! Often I am the only woman in the weight room, like yesterday (yes Christmas) it was 5 guys and me. I have learned another form of stress relief through lifting, I mean it has to feel good to lift heavy!

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I was having a conversation with another runner friend about weight training and why she won't do it, I am sure there are others feeling the same so here is my attempt to break some myths. 

I will get "man arms": Women lack the testosterone to build huge amounts of bulk unless doing power lifting or with a little "help". Women typically have less muscle tissue than men so building this size is less likely to happen. Women can develop sculpted muscle with strength and endurance.

My chest will get even smaller: As someone who has always been small chested and now after nearly 2 years of breastfeeding is barely filling an A anymore! The weightlifting has actually helped to build extra pectoral muscle giving the illusion of a bigger chest and without the flab.

It will interfere with cardio workouts: For any runner weights will supplement and improve cardio workouts if done correctly. My focus for strength training is mostly endurance ad power to help with running. I do a lot of super sets combining multiple exercises together. I also focus on core strength. Yes you need to time the weights with key running workouts or races but with planning it is easy to manage. 

I can't do the free weights: Most gyms will give free introduction sessions with a trainer, take advantage of this and learn. If you are able work with a trainer or a friend who is knowledgeable in weight training. It is funner to work out with someone else anyways.

Women should focus on light weights with high reps: Without resistance and weight to challenge your muscle changes will not happen. Strength is gained through pushing beyond your limits. This was part of my problem; I was so set in my routine and lighter weights and wondered why the improvement stopped. Now I am constantly increasing and changing routines and see the results.

Recently I started running with a woman who is my opposite: new to running but high intensity weight lifter and I am learning from her. Actually I think we are teaching each other as I convince her to run through use of strength analogies and she helps me understand the culture of strength training.

I am hoping that with weight training 3 days a week my running will improve and I can stay injury free. I am also loving the power I feel when I lift heavier and do more than I expected. I never thought I'd be bench pressing more than the bar (up to 70 lbs) or doing pull ups on my own. Working out with my trainer has convinced me I can do more and shown me how I mentally defeat myself. 


15 comments:

  1. Great post Jen! I hear these same things from women. I think weights can be so intimidating for some women and this is a great way to help them feel more comfortable:)

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    1. I too was intimidated by free weights (still am some days!) but we need to show other women we can do this and belong too :)

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  2. Good for you Jen!!! I really need to get back to lifting!

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    1. Thanks Mindy! Lifting is a great addition to any sport :)

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  3. Love your post! Way to go on the weight training!! There are so many women out there who are so affraid to pick up a weight, and many think it will make them "bulky"...which isn't the case. I love weight lifting and teaching lifting at the gym, and I'm glad you've gotten hooked :)

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    1. I'm glad I am hooked too, something new to help me become a better runner and have a fun workout :)

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  4. I started lifting weights with my older brothers in high school. There was no way they would let me use light weights. I learned at a young age that going heavy isn't going to make you look like the hulk. I also had a PE teacher in h.s. who was in figure competitions. She lifted hard and heavy and was TINY but cut. She inspired so many girls to be strong and not afraid of the weight room. Great post!

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    1. That is great, we need more women like that to encourage others :)

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  5. Great post. I plan on making a similar post on my blog. Gotta weight train. It does amazing things to your body :)

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    1. Can't wait to read what you have to say :)

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  6. I'm learning this myself, little by little. It still takes much more work to get me into the gym then out for a run, but I know my body benefits from it, and I'm starting to enjoy it, too!

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    1. This is true, I'd rather be outside running, I often run to the gym to lift. Solves a could things: gives me a good warm up and saves gas :) Although too cold for that now!

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  7. Great article! I love lifting weights, pushing my limits, and it's actually quite aerobic. This is way my Daily Mile looks pitiful. I wish it tweeted all my workouts.

    the one about the chest is especially true! I'd rather have a perky chest regardless of size and lifting weight certainly helps.

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    1. I agree, perky is much better than big a flabby!

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  8. Excellent post! I have definitely seen the benefits of incorporating strength training, although to date I've mostly just used my own body weight rather than free weights (squats, push-ups, etc.). What do you see as the benefit of using free weights?

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