Strength Training or Cardio for Women’s Fitness?

Strength Training or Cardio for WomenTackling the Misconceptions in Women’s Fitness

There are a lot of women out there that work very hard at getting their bodies in shape and staying that way. Unfortunately, with so much conflicting information, different theories and old-fashioned ideas, it’s really easy to take the wrong path. Sometimes that means slower progress or poor results, but often, it can actually do more harm than good.

In this article, I’m going to take a look at what I believe to be some of the most common misconceptions regarding women’s fitness and I’m going to show you why I believe strength training is the way to go if you’re looking to sculpt your body.

Common Misconceptions in Women’s Fitness

Misconception #1: Diet is the Solution

For instance, there are thousands of fad diets floating around, some of which will have you alternate between starvation and binge eating. Even if you stumble across one of these that actually helps you lose weight or trim your figure over the long haul, it may be causing you increased problems in the future. Let me explain why:

We’re all born with a certain number of fat cells, and that number will never decrease. You can trim down so that those cells don’t contain any stored fat, but they’re still there; ready to fill up with stored energy whenever your caloric intake exceeds your burn.

That number of cells is only fixed as a minimum, though. When you binge, your body can create more fat cells. And those will be with you forever, too. And they can come back to haunt you later.

Misconception #2: Women Shouldn’t Have Muscles

I’ve heard a lot of people, both men and women, say that women just “don’t look right” with muscles. Okay, I understand that the feminine form, nice and curvy, is attractive, and I know that the sight of a serious female bodybuilder may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But anything can be taken to extremes.

I put a lot of work into my body, and I’m very pleased with the results. And believe me, I (and my husband) feel that I look more feminine now than before I began my strength training. A reasonable amount of muscle definition can greatly enhance the feminine physique and give you a great deal of confidence as a bonus.

What’s the “Right” Way to Develop My Body?

There are many ways to go about developing your body to get the results you want, and there’s not just one that’s “right”. I’m just going to suggest what has worked really well for me.

I was very active in sports growing up, both as a sprinter and playing soccer, which also involves a lot of running, so I did a lot of running to stay in shape. I stayed pretty lean throughout my teens but then when I later became a full-time nurse, I found that I just didn’t have the time or energy to continue with my sports and running. So, little by little, I gained some fat, mostly around my abdominal area.

In 2004, I hired a trainer and started strength training with him. In very little time, I noted a lot of improvement in my strength and in the definition in my arms. But my diet still wasn’t perfect, so every time I felt I needed to lose some weight – even 5 pounds – I’d start running again, in conjunction with some crazy binge diet. Once I lost the weight and started eating again, I’d put on even more weight than before.

When I started strength training consistently and really began to understand the dynamics behind it, I saw a dramatic change in my body and I gained a lot of confidence. I started working on my back and shoulder muscles to improve my spinal posture, and on my chest muscles to lift the pecs, which was virtually like getting a boob lift.

Fortunately, I realized that those insane diets were doing me more harm than good, and I started following a proper diet. But I have no doubt that my body generated a lot more fat cells when I was using those binge diets.

I recently attended a fitness show, and there were a LOT of fantastic looking young women walking around, that a few years ago, would have made me feel really self-conscious. No more! I’m feeling healthy, strong and confident, and couldn’t feel more feminine.

Why Strength Training Over Cardio for Women?

Don’t get me wrong – any cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart. But some cardio activity, especially running, puts a lot of stress on your legs, knees and ankles. It can cause shin-splints and joint problems that won’t arise from strength training. And strength workouts are just as great for your cardiovascular system as any other cardio training.

In addition, with strength training, you can laser target specific muscles for development – something you just can’t do with running. That will let you sculpt your body the way you like, avoiding any over-development or ignored areas.

In short, cardio is a lot better for your body than no exercise, but it isn’t really intended to develop muscles the way strength training does. Try it for a while – I’m sure that, just like I did, you’ll find you love the results.

Author Profile: Flavia Del Monte

FlaviliciousFitness.Com Flavia Del Monte is a Registered Nurse, Certified Physical Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, fitness model. Flavia created Full Body Licious specifically for women that what to get fit and healthy in a safe and productive way. You can read more about her training programs, nutrition advice and women's fitness ideas on her exercises for women blog, Flavilicious Fitness.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.

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